The text: a comic about social work pay

A practitioner receives her pay while contemplating the overwhelming expenses of the upcoming month in this comic, illustrated by John Cei Douglas

In our first comic, we introduce you to Lana, a 35-year-old social worker and a single parent. Like many others in the sector, she worries about getting through the month without going deeper into debt or borrowing from friends and family to make do.

But today is payday.


Illustrated by John Cei Douglas

What do you think of this comic? Would you like to see more in Community Care?


More from Community Care

17 Responses to The text: a comic about social work pay

  1. Lilly callidge September 5, 2023 at 7:22 pm #

    Thanks and gratitude does not put food on her child’s plate or pay her rent. The comic captures the reasons so many practitioners stay in social care – because they care – but at the same time seems to also undermine the issue. Grateful service users are not the ones answerable when she has debt or can’t pay for school trips.
    And it perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if there was some gratitude from the state, that need us, but they seem committed to watering down social work until unqualified practitioners can be paid even less to do the same.
    I believe the comic is meant to be encouraging, and speak positively to the difference we make, but I can’t help feeling it is trying to patch up an issue that is only growing, and will continue to grow. Social work is amazing but we won’t have any Social Work left if we keep pretending the rewards of the job are enough.

    • Eli September 6, 2023 at 2:26 pm #

      Spot on Lilly. Taking advantage of good nature and ignoring the real issue.
      And not to mention that the nice comments or rewarding moments are few and far between.

      Frankly, it’s a bit disappointing from community care
      I’m retraining and leaving this profession

      • Anastasia Koutsounia September 7, 2023 at 10:54 am #

        Hello both, thanks so much for the feedback and apologies if the comic has caused any form of offence – it was not our intention.

        The thought process behind this story was not to undermine the crucial issue of pay or debt. We have covered the topic extensively throughout the past year(s), highlighting the impact the cost of living crisis and current local government pay have had on social workers.

        Instead, we chose to showcase the reason many practitioners might choose to stay in the profession in a realistic but bittersweet way. Because, despite the hardships, social workers do help change people’s lives. There is also only so much depth you can find in an eight-block comic.

        Hope that helps, but know that we will definitely be taking your feedback on board.

    • Chris September 7, 2023 at 7:18 am #

      What she said.

    • Stephen J. Mordue September 7, 2023 at 7:37 am #

      Completely agree! Not what I’m after from
      Community Care. Such cartoons are at best going to take a complex idea and simplify it to the point where it’s of little use in such a forum.

    • Ann September 7, 2023 at 8:02 am #

      Totally agree!

    • Angie September 8, 2023 at 1:24 pm #

      completely agree!

    • Jonathan Taylor September 8, 2023 at 3:33 pm #

      Nailed it Lilly.
      Like Johnson’s applause, gratitude and thanks don’t pay the bills.

  2. Andi September 6, 2023 at 5:01 pm #

    In answer to the questions;

    In response to Lily – Govt doesn’t want to pay for social work- it’s akin to the difficulties faced by NHS- the remit has increased since inception and the expectations of people about what those sectors can do.
    whose ‘responsibility’ it is to look after themselves /children/ health has become that of Govt and cannot continue to be funded. So, politically you start reducing funding, followed by the importance of/ need for the sector then reduce qualification requirements- remember last month the Govt was talking about reducing the number of years for a medical doctors training, now we have the idea of unqualified SW – that’s what the whole registration system was brought in to address, of course the counter argument Will be ‘not all cases need a qualified worker’ which is true, if you want to ignore what is going on and where that might lead, which ultimately the Govt wants to do- ignore, it’s cheaper (in the short term).

    In short, general populace wants its needs met but does not want to pay for it, or take responsibility for themselves or the consequences of their decisions. Social Work has been dragged along into this by quasi politicians- local councillors- who are interested in themselves and are able/allowed to impact on/shape services they don’t understand and have no commitment to (other than a (passing) bleeding heart interest) and our service managers and above cow tow to them.

  3. Dawn Wills September 7, 2023 at 8:56 am #

    If she is a social worker she would be on a good wage, do you mean a care worker? That would be a whole different ball game!

  4. LT September 7, 2023 at 11:12 am #

    This comic makes it seem as though social workers should just grin and bare being taken advantage of, exhaustion, and only living for the betterment of other people. Maybe the next comic could be about her having enough and petitioning for better pay, or showing the anger of being pushed into being a martyr when it should be a wage that not only meet the needs of the practitioner, but also compensates for the stress and emotional investment it requires.

    No one wants to work to continually struggle, and it isn’t fair that caring jobs like social work, teaching and nursing are giving this narrative that it’s all worth it in the end. It reads as ‘It doesn’t matter that you’re struggling, because you make people struggle less.’

    I’m sure anyone she helps would also be appalled that she’s worried about paying her bills when she is emotionally invested and struggling financially in a job. This comic is dismissive of the problem that, and it’s only a matter of time that anyone who thinks a nice text will keep them in the job will realise that it’s not enough. I want to see a comic where this woman creates change with her colleagues and gets treated fairly instead.

  5. Matt Tagg September 7, 2023 at 11:42 am #

    The only humorous thing about this cartoon is the way in which it has been received lol! TBF I think it makes an important point about doing the job for the love (over money). However, I would agree that we Social Workers are underpaid and undervalued. In my opinion, SW is one of the most valuable occupations to society. Our work is as skilfull and demanding as any other profession. If we were paid by this measure, our prestige/salaries would be on par with Doctor’s.

  6. Leah K September 8, 2023 at 11:59 am #

    Having a comic strip is a great idea, but it will be wayyy much more popular if it has some biting satire and wryness, ridiculousness, truth to power etc

  7. C Wilson September 8, 2023 at 2:19 pm #

    Totally agree with Lilly’s post. The comic actually made me sigh rather than encouraged me. Should I feel guilty that I don’t feel that “some things do make it all worthwhile in the end”? I am fortunate that I am not a single parent who is totally dependent on one salary but I have colleagues in that situation who are seriously struggling to make ends meet. They are having to undertake additional work just to earn what they need to pay the bills which puts them under increased emotional pressure and inevitably limits the quality time they can spend with their own children. Whilst social work can of course be very rewarding and no-one is in it to earn a fortune, I’m afraid the stress and demands of social work combined with the low pay are not always compensated for by the rewards and we shouldn’t feel the need to pretend otherwise.

  8. Ann September 8, 2023 at 2:25 pm #


  9. Laus September 9, 2023 at 10:25 am #

    I thought the comic was great.
    I agree with most of the comments too…the important thing is to connect to as many people and keep this issue alive.
    I have been a social worker for 25 years, mainly in child protection and family support. I can only afford to my job because I have a partner who earns more than me. I am currently paid for 3.5 days The hours I actually do (that i dont get paid for) far outweigh my contacted hours. Over the past 4 weeks I have accrued over 60 hours toil (which of course i can not possiblyever use). I am passionate about the work we do and the families I work with however social workers are not valued and our pay reflects this.

    Sitting round a large network meeting of professionals the other day I realised that I was the most experienced and had the most responsibility for the case, I had the most tasks from mundane admin, to delivering complex theraputic support and risk management. I was DEFINITELY the least well paid. The climate we are working in, the complexity of our role is not financially rewarded.
    Sadly I am on the brink of burn out and plan to leave statutory social work over the next few months. Not an original story I know but feel very strongly about this issue and needed to share! Thank you if you got to the end of this message!!

  10. Ang September 9, 2023 at 12:02 pm #

    Not quite I see its purpose and feel it skirts over a really serious/anxiety raising issue for some workers.