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Social worker saved my life': ex-service users and BASW highlight great social work on Victoria Derbyshire show

BASW’s England Country Manager, Maris Stratulis, appeared on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show this morning, flanked by ex-service users Ian Thomas and David Akinsaya, to promote the important work that social workers do and discuss the lack of positive media coverage of the profession.

Thomas and Akinsaya recounted their hard-hitting yet inspiring stories of struggling in the care system before being sent to prison, yet having the constant unyielding support of a social worker throughout the troubled upbringings, which ultimately helped both to a fruitful life post-prison.

To hear cases like these, on the day when the annual statistics on children in need were released showing a 7.6 increase in section 47 enquiries and a 1.5% increase in child protection plans, should serve as a reminder of the life-changing impact social workers can do, but unfortunately also the increasing need for such work.

Stratulis touched on this duality while discussing the need for more positive coverage of the profession in the media.

The clip has already received praise from the social work world, with Ian Johnston, Representative to the European Social Platform IFSW Europe e.V, saying he was “delighted to see the very positive portrayal of social work on the show”. 

Speaking after the show on the increase of section 47 enquiries and protection plans, Stratulis said: “The statistics reflect the increasing demand on services and the complexity of need of some of the most vulnerable children in this country.

“Local Authorities have legal duties and responsibilities to assess, support and safeguard children and young people and hardworking dedicated social workers continue to make a difference every day to the lives of many.”

She added: “However, the government and inspection bodies including Ofsted need to acknowledge the ever-increasing demand on over stretched children's services and the impact this has on services being delivered.

“Rather than adopting what many front line staff experience as a blame culture 'of failure', we need to create a national dialogue with Ofsted government departments, operational social workers, managers, directors and elected members to find collective improvements solutions in response to demand.”

BASW’s position is that there needs to be investment in preventative services, an increase in the number of social workers, manageable caseloads and a culture shift from process driven work to social workers being given the time to do the job properly and undertake regular quality direct work with children, young people and their families.

To this end, BASW and SWU are continuing their campaign 'Respect for Social Work’: the campaign for professional working conditions through further lobbying efforts planned throughout winter.

The full segment from the Victoria Derbyshire show can be viewed here