‘Big-hearted’ social worker dies from suspected Covid-19

Tributes paid to "well-respected, well-liked and highly-valued" personal adviser at Birmingham Children's Trust, whose death follows that of fellow social worker from disease in London last month

burning candles in tribute
Photo: Fiedels/Adobe Stock

A “big-hearted” social worker with a ten-year career supporting looked-after children and care leavers has died from suspected Covid-19.

Muhammad Islam, who was a personal adviser in Birmingham Children’s Trust’s care leavers’ service, died after having been in hospital for a few weeks. His death follows that of a practitioner in Southwark, south London, reportedly from Covid-19, last month.

Trust chief executive Andy Couldrick paid tribute to Muhammad, saying: “Muhammad was a well-respected, well-liked and highly-valued member of our care leavers’ team who supported many young people in Birmingham.

“Muhammad was passionate about providing the best care for young people and he will be sorely missed by his colleagues and the young people he supported, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Friends and colleagues paid tribute to him on a JustGiving page set up to raise funds for children’s charities, highlighting his kindness and “big heart”.

Muhammad, you are a big loss to the team and the city. You were always helpful, kind and had a great sense of humour.”

He was a lovely man, whose presence in the office was as big as his heart.”

We will remember Muhammad with affection and pride. Birmingham Children’s Trust is poorer for his loss.”

Muhammad joined Birmingham council in 2010 as a newly-qualified social worker in a children in care team, before becoming a PA in the care leavers’ service in 2017. At the trust, set up in 2018, he was a member of the employee engagement forum in which role he was described as “a reliable participant, always willing to challenge on behalf of his colleagues, he represented effectively, particularly over the issue of caseloads on staff”.

The British Association of Social Workers also paid tribute. Chief executive Ruth Allen said: “Social workers form a tight knit community and this tragic news has hugely affected us. We send our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Muhammad.”

‘We don’t now how many deaths there have been’

Referencing the death of the Southwark practitioner, Allen added: “These two deaths are the ones that are known. Dreadfully, we don’t know how many others there are, or how many social workers are suffering from the virus right now.”

Social workers responding to a BASW survey on the impact of Covid-19 last month raised significant concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for practitioners who needed to do home visits or face-to-face assessments.

The association said it would continue to lobby for social workers to get the PPE they needed “so they can better protected and in-turn, protect the vulnerable people they serve”.

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13 Responses to ‘Big-hearted’ social worker dies from suspected Covid-19

  1. Sharon woodcock April 24, 2020 at 9:24 am #

    Mo I shall miss you beyond words, always always speaking out for kids and your work buddy’s and challenging the ways in which things should and could be done. I am privileged to have worked with you and your wicked sense of humour. Peace with you buddy and I’ll take your practice spirit forward . RIP . sharon

  2. Rafiq April 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm #

    So sad n tragic to hear of such young loss to the SW community & general public.
    I never knew this person but he seems like he always did that bit extra to improve the lives of our vulnerable Birmingham children & families.
    Especially, during this spiritual month of Ramadhan. May his lord accept his good deeds n forgive him for any sins he may have committed,
    May his Lord place him in high place in Jannah. Ameen

    • Reh April 24, 2020 at 8:27 pm #


  3. Majidah Akbar April 24, 2020 at 4:54 pm #

    Mohammed Islam I only worked with you for a short while but your character and jolly disposition left a lasting impression. I sincerely do dua Allah raises you to the highest rank of Jannah during this blessed month of Ramadhan 🤲🏼🕋 May He also give sabr to your wife who you often spoke about 😔

  4. Mercy April 24, 2020 at 6:43 pm #

    This is tragic, especially as this man appeared to be a passionate and dedicated social worker, who appeared to be committed to his work, the children and families, and his colleagues. However, I wonder whether more could have been done to protect him, and to prevent his death by his employer. I am a frontline Social Worker in child protection (R&A), and we are still doing visits to families, where it is not an emergency or serious risk. How many deaths do we have to have in this country before our employers protect us? At my local authority, we have not even been given any PPE, we have to ‘apply for this’, and we were only giving one small bottle of hand sanitiser. This is not good enough, more needs to be done.

    • Sue Brickles April 26, 2020 at 11:09 am #

      Couldn’t agree more .

  5. Joseph Ashibuogwu April 24, 2020 at 6:46 pm #

    You are a big lost to humanity

  6. X April 24, 2020 at 8:05 pm #

    It’s always sad to hear another person and social worker in this case has passed away. I would say we have a responsibility first and foremost to keep ourselves safe. And we should not forget this, despite what expectations work places upon us. May your soul rest in peace. X

  7. Chris B April 24, 2020 at 9:14 pm #

    Muhammad I’ll miss our catch ups on cases, that accent, the passion to support anyone who needed it. Inspired from day 1. Wont be the same without you there.

  8. Sue Brickles April 26, 2020 at 11:10 am #

    Couldn’t agree more we should have clearly guidance and better ppe

  9. Pauline McCarthy April 28, 2020 at 8:15 am #

    Unacceptable. Employers/ Councils/Children’s trust must Safeguard staff first so they can Safeguard children and young people. It’s like sending soldiers to the front line without their combat gear. Social care staff should not have to be applying, pleading for toolkits to do their jobs on the front line. Each worker should have thier own risk assessment and Essential Worker protection plan, like a Safeguarding and risk management plan.

  10. Rachel C April 28, 2020 at 3:42 pm #

    Muhammad will be very much missed by the young people he supported at our housing association, he represented the best values of what it means to be of service. My colleagues and I will miss seeing him at our reception – which i think was his second office

  11. Andy Couldrick April 30, 2020 at 9:20 pm #

    So, to be clear, Muhammad sadly fell ill before lockdown started and before awareness of this virus was as clear as it is now. Throughout the period since then, Birmingham Children’s Trust has had sufficient PPE to supply to all of our frontline staff who need it.