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Social Workers Praise Action to Improve Staff Safety

The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) has warmly welcomed plans, announced today by the Department of Health, to help protect social workers from violence and abuse.

In a speech at the British Association of Social Workers UK national standing conference, Chief Social Work Officer, Sean Holland, revealed the role of a task force established to improve the safety and well-being of social work staff.

Following the announcement, BASW NI National Director, Carolyn Ewart said: “I am delighted by the Chief Social Work Officer’s decisive action to address the problem of violence and abuse experienced by social workers. Earlier this year BASW NI conducted research which found that half of all social workers who participated had been subjected to violence, three quarters had been threatened, and close to nine out of every ten had experienced intimidation and abuse. For many of our members, threats, violence and intimidation are a daily occurrence.

“The Department of Health’s response to our research findings has demonstrated leadership. Establishing the task force will help ensure social workers are kept safe as they support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Speaking about the Department’s plans, Sean Holland said: “When it comes to intimidation, threats and violence employers need to understand how to meet their responsibilities to employees and to do that they have to understand particular issues associated with social work. I am looking forward to working with BASW NI and others to make sure that best practice in this area is standard practice.”

Ms Ewart concluded by saying: “The challenges facing social workers are many and severe, yet we as a profession are committed to supporting our service users and improving their well-being. I look forward to working in partnership with all organisations that have a stake in the delivery of social work services, to ensure social workers are empowered and protected. They deserve nothing less as they deliver vital services in what are often demanding and potentially dangerous situations.”