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The role of social workers in disasters

BASW England looks to raise awareness, but also formalise, the important role social workers play in disaster recovery

Social Workers play an integral role in disaster responses – their skills, knowledge and expertise are critically valuable in an emergency, as well as in the post-disaster recovery stage. This was evidenced recently during and after the Manchester Arena bombing and Grenfell Tower fire tragedies.

Awareness of social workers’ role in disasters remains low however, and it is the aims of this BASW England project to promote the important role, and duty, of social work in disasters.

Indeed, every Local Authority has a legal duty to have policies and procedures in place to respond to disaster including critical incidents, serious injuries, explosion, flood, poisoning, electrocution, fire, release of radioactivity and chemical spills. 

The project will also seek to crystallise the role and its responsibilities, noting there is much variance nationally in responses to disasters.

To launch this project BASW England has with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) in England, co-produced a document that sets out the role of the Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) and social workers in disaster recovery.

The document sets out key recommendations for both roles, including greater clarity and uniformity of the HALO role in all local authorities. The document can be viewed here.

For more information on this project please contact Maris Stratulis, BASW England National Director, at