Skip to main content

Social Workers Union activates campaign to encourage urgent action to address key issues

Update by John McGowan, Social Workers Union (SWU) General Secretary

Social work is on a precipice following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on working conditions and morale amongst social workers. These concerns have led the Social Workers Union (SWU) to implement a campaign to encourage urgent action to address these issues.  John McGowan, SWU General Secretary, has this week written to a number of MPs and Government Officials highlighting the issues.

In the letter, McGowan has highlighted that;

‘Social work is on a precipice following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on working conditions and morale amongst social workers. Furthermore, the risk of hidden tragedies, with many social workers seriously concerned that the most at risk people have been unable to be reached through digital interventions and communications alone’. In addition, the SWU GS is advising politicians that there will be ‘a mental health collapse among staff dealing with the sick and elderly, many of whom have witnessed significant death rates among their clients without receiving adequate support in dealing with their grief. Importantly, there are member concerns about the increase of referrals to social services and required assessments when we resume to a degree of normality’

These concerns have led the Social Workers Union and union activists to plan a campaign to encourage urgent action to address these issues.  At this time the provisions in our health and safety legislation for risk assessments and for the duty of care are critical and in the forefront in every workplace.

At the General Federation of Trade Union’s recent executive meeting the unsung daily effectiveness of SWU members in protecting lives was hearteningly conveyed. Unsurprisingly the new conditions that are generating more mental health issues are also creating a changed environment, challenging the greatly needed services of those who can help most, like social workers.

This follows years of underfunding in our public services by successive governments that has hampered the ability of front line services such as social work to be able to respond as effectively as they could. The scale of the sacrifice, that the nation now recognises, that so many groups of workers are making only deepened the anger directed towards those in the government, like the Chancellor, who are planning to make today’s heroes tomorrow’s victims in a new round of austerity.