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BASW Chair discusses impact of Covid-19 on children and families at the Westminster Education Forum

Gerry Nosowska joined a panel of experts to speak at the WEF last week.

The Westminster Education Forum hosted BASW Chair Gerry Nosowska last week, where she spoke about the effect of Covid-19 and lockdown on children, young people and families from a social work perspective.

Thanks to the insights and experiences BASW members have shared throughout the pandemic, Gerry spoke in detail about the issue of keeping children safe online in the context of lockdown, as well as the priorities for child social care service recovery.

Gerry said that social workers across the UK have been reporting that children are spending more time on screen – which can then increase the risk of bullying, grooming, exploitation, and access to misleading information – and that this is continuing to increase. Social workers and other frontline workers are seeing that the protective factors for many children and young people, such as education and positive relationships, are being undermined by the pandemic.

Going forward, Gerry said that we need good data about what is happening on the ground, more multi-agency work – as well as an understanding of the experience of Covid-19 and lockdown(s) for children and young people informed by their own lived experience, given that the online world is becoming more central to childhood.

Gerry also discussed the priorities for child social care service recovery, drawing on the views and experiences reported to BASW by members as part of the ongoing Social Work During Covid-19 survey. According to the survey, social workers are generally concerned about the impact of the pandemic and lockdown(s) on human rights in a variety of settings, and the wider negative effect on wellbeing and mental health.

Gerry referenced a SkyNews/BASW poll from October, which highlighted that social workers urgently need more resource and support, in order to not only safeguard the wellbeing of the people they work with, but also their own.

Gerry referenced the BASW Professional Support Service, ethical guidance and peer support forums as positive ways of supporting social workers. She highlighted the opportunity to build on good, creative practice from the pandemic response, and maintain the increased recognition of the importance of social work.

Gerry Nosowska, Chair of the British Association of Social Workers, said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity at this event to share social workers’ experiences of Covid-19 and increase recognition of their vital work.

“Children and young people need social workers to have the time, resource and support to build relationships and understanding with them. This is vital for protecting our children.”

Social workers can find BASW’s Covid-19 resources here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) BASW updates