Social Work Recap is a weekly series where we present key news, events, conversations, tweets and campaigns around social work from the preceding week.
From a social worker’s tearful goodbye to a young person they had been supporting to the staggering value of unpaid carers, here’s what you might have missed this week in social work:
Unpaid carers’ work valued at £445m per day
Unpaid carers in England and Wales contributed £445m a day to the economy in England and Wales as of 2021, according to new research.
The analysis of census data, by charity Carers UK and the University of Sheffield, showed that the value of unpaid care in 2021 was up 29% in real terms on 2011.
In total, carers saved £162bn per year, based on the cost of replacing their contribution with paid care. This is the equivalent of a second NHS in England and Wales, which in 2020-21 received an estimated £164bn in funding.
Though there were fewer carers in 2021 than 2011, they were providing more hours of care overall, found the analysis. The proportion of people providing 20-49 hours per week was 1.9% in 2021, compared to 1.5% in 2011, while the proportion providing over 50 hours had risen from 2.7% to 2.8%.
“It is deeply concerning that the increase in the value of unpaid care over the last decade is a result of fewer carers providing more hours of care,” said Helen Walker, the chief executive of Carers UK.
“Having to care round the clock for a loved one has significant implications for people’s ability to stay in paid work, remain financially resilient and maintain their health. Lacking adequate support, unpaid carers feel they are being taken for granted.”
Adolescent to parent violence service sees increased referrals
A service set up in Kent during the pandemic to tackle abuse from young people towards their parents is seeing increased referrals.
The Adolescent to Parent Violence and Conflict RJ Service was set up in July 2020 by Kent police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott to give children aged 10-18 “a second chance”.
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Jacqueline McHugh, who runs the service, said referrals have continued to rise after lockdown, with families feeling “a certain amount of shame” when having to come forward.
According to Scott, lockdown exacerbated child and adolescent to parent violence due to young people being “more exposed” to abuse within the home.
“I’m sure a lot of people would not want to see children as young as ten or eleven being criminalised for behaviour that they may have been a victim of themselves,” he added.
“That’s why this intervention is really important. To give them a second chance later on in life.”
A social worker’s goodbye to a young person
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A social worker took to Instagram last week to share her experience of saying goodbye to a young person she had been supporting.
The care leaver, now 23, had received social work support post-18 due to her complex needs, with the practitioner having worked with her for three years. The two had arranged to meet for lunch on the anniversary of the young woman’s mother’s death.
Going for a McDonald’s meal, they reminisced about the years they had been working together, with the girl thanking the practitioner for never giving up.
“Her character is larger than life and we definitely had our moments, the first time I met her she turned to her old worker and said ‘Well she can f*ck off, I ain’t working with her!’,” wrote the social worker.
“That was my first time a [young person] had sworn at me and she was so direct I was completely shocked.”
Despite that, the two developed a close bond over the years, with the young woman once offering a bag from her collection to the practitioner, deciding the one she had been wearing “needed to go to the bin”!
Fortunately, while it was a tearful occasion, the two will be meeting again as the care leaver remains in the social worker’s ‘pod system’.
Mother who caused death of son through fasting detained under Mental Health Act
Last week, according to the Guardian, Olabisi Abubakar, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was found not guilty of manslaughter and child cruelty by reason of insanity after making her son join her in a religious fast.
The court determined that her mind had been “thrown off balance” by lockdown and worrying over her immigration status. As a result, she had began to deny both herself and her child food, hoping fasting and prayers would save the world from Covid.
Despite the verdict, the judge at Cardiff crown court, Mrs Justice Jefford, detained Abubakar, saying that she still posed “a risk of serious harm to the public” were she discharged now.
However, Jefford added that, until she fell ill, Abubakar has been “a good, caring mother”. Stresses such as immigration, difficulties with a neighbour, money and isolation were what brought her to a breaking point, the court heard.
Friends and neighbours also said that Abubakar’s health problems had been exacerbated by being moved from London to Cardiff, where she had no support network.
“Many leaders weren’t in the room” at anti-racist social work conference
That was the message from Shantel Thomas, the anti-racist lead at the British Association for Social Workers and one of the organisers of the Social Work Education Anti-Racism Network event.
In a post for BASW, she said that, while the mission to inspire, empower and reinvigorate delegates was a great success, there was still work to be done.
Practitioners, leaders and academics travelled from around the UK to attend the conference, with 200 registering for the 70 spaces. Yet, “the ones who really needed to be there” weren’t , according to Thomas.
This was a topic of conversation during the conference with various ideas being thrown around on how to engage managers. In the end, it was decided that “we change culture one conversation at a time”.
“Incorporate racism and anti-racism in every conversation, meeting, and policy decision whilst being bold and brave, clumsy and courageous in challenging and calling out racism when you see it,” wrote Thomas.
“Don’t underestimate the impact you can have, as seemingly simple acts can provoke meaningful and impactful outcomes – remember we all have agency.”
Must Watch: ‘Care system in crisis’
When Isabelle Kirkham was taken into care as a little girl, she was moved from her home in Southampton to a village nearly an hour away.
“It felt a bit ridiculous, cause I had to do a really long bus journey or get a boat,” she said.
“But I shouldn’t have to choose between a boat and a bus to see my friends and family.”
Her siblings being sent “hundreds of miles away” to live with their grandparents also hindered visits to them.
Isabelle was one of many children being placed far from their family till this day – as of March 2022, 16,970 children were placed more than 20 miles from home.
Charity Become recently urged the government to take action to end inappropriate placements far from home, sharing findings that showed these increased risk of lower wellbeing.
Tweet of the week:
(1) “Tens of thousands of disabled people across the country are having debt collection action taken against them every year over unpaid care charges.”
Which essential bill would you cut to pay for care? Would you stop your care? Or go into debt?#MakeCareFair #ScrapCareCharges https://t.co/soABQllI7m
— Inclusion London (@InclusionLondon) April 28, 2023
Disability equality organisation Inclusion London has spoken up about disabled people having to make the difficult decision between care and going into severe debt.