Systemic racism worsened Covid’s impact on disabled people from ethnic minorities – report

Our review of the week in social work

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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 Joe Swash’s documentary on teenagers leaving care and a social worker’s case recording tips to a report on how government failings affected disabled people from ethnic minorities during Covid, here’s our week in social work:

Systemic racism worsened Covid’s impact on disabled people from ethnic minorities – report

Nurse and disabled black man

Photo: Prostock-studio/Adobe Stock

Systemic racism worsened the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, an inquiry has found.

During the pandemic, the government failed to “meaningfully engage” with disabled people from ethnic minorities or address the increased risk they faced from the disease, said the Commission on Covid-19, Ableism and Racism, in its final report this week.

The commission was set up by the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group to examine the pandemic’s impact on disabled people from ethnic minorities and how far this were driven by discrimination.

People surveyed by the commission reported experiencing increased discrimination when accessing health and social care services during the pandemic compared with before, while it also found public health information was less accessible for disabled people from ethnic minorities.

For example, most information was not provided in accessible formats, such as British Sign Language, EasyRead or languages besides English. Also, the government’s reliance on the BBC to relay messages excluded some black, Asian and minority ethnic people for whom it was not their main source of news.

“I experienced first-hand how government decisions negatively affected Disabled people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities,” said the chair of the commission, Kamran Mallick.

“Disabled people matter. Our lives matter. But unless ministers make a concerted effort to learn from the pandemic and engage with everyone in society, whole swathes of the population will continue to be left behind.”

BBC documentary: teenagers leaving care “set up for failure”

Joe Swash

Photo by BBC/Firecracker Films/ Michas Vanni

Teenagers in care are being “set up to fail” by being made to leave the system too early, without sufficient support, according to a BBC One documentary.

In Joe Swash: Teens in Care, the actor and presenter follows young people aged 16 and over as they navigate life in – and coming out of – care.

Swash’s own connection with the care system comes from his 18-year-old foster sibling, Daniel, whom his mother has cared for 11 years.

“You don’t just suddenly grow up at 18,” he says. “As for Daniel, that’s a job for life for my mum.”

However, in his documentary, which aired on July 11, he finds that the care system is sending young people out into the world unprepared at the same age.

“Once you fall through that net, there’s not many people there to catch you,” says Swash.

As well as young people, Swash also speaks to experts and policymakers about how the system can be fixed.

Clare Bracey, director of policy and campaigns at children’s charity Become, says young people in care are “counting down the days until their 18th birthday” when they’re “expected to become independent overnight”.

“When you think about that in relation to other children who are living with their parents, that support doesn’t get cut off overnight,” she adds.

You can watch the documentary here.

Video: why are disproportionate numbers of children from ethnic minorities in care?

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has shared a video examining the disproportionate numbers of children in care from black and other minority ethnic groups.

Summarising research led by University of Huddersfield, the video shows that, while black and mixed heritage children are much more likely to be in care than white British ones, Asian children are much less so.

This cannot be explained by poverty alone, the video explains. Firstly, Asian families – as well as black and mixed heritage ones – are more likely to be poor than white British families.

And secondly, poverty has much less of an impact on the chances of a black African or black Caribbean child being taken into care than it does on a white British child. This means white British children are overrepresented in care in poorer neighbourhoods, while black children are overrepresented in richer areas.

Through the video, the organisation calls for more data from individual families and children to improve understanding about how a family’s economic circumstances affect rates of care.

It also says there needs to be research to examine whether individual or institutional biases in the family courts, schools, police or health services are impacting on care rates.

Another video! How to improve your case recording skills

YouTuber and social worker Kayleigh Rose Evans has created a short video to help fellow practitioners improve their case recording skills.

It focuses on the fact that social workers can never be sure that what they are observing is 100% the case for the individual they are supporting.

As a result, she says, practitioners should make “cautious claims” rather than “categorical” ones.

Check out the video for an example of the difference.

What are your tips for improving case recording? Please share in the comments below.

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