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Star Hobson case: BASW speaks to media

We spoke to Sky News, Channel 4 News and BBC Look North about Star Hobson's murder and the pressures on frontline social workers...

Yesterday BASW proactively engaged several media outlets, following news of the horrendous murder of Star Hobson.

BASW chair Gerry Nosowska spoke to Channel 4 News and Sky News - and an anonymous BASW England member provided his perspective as a frontline social worker to BBC Look North.

Gerry told Channel 4 News: "Star’s death is a tragedy and social workers really feel it because we go to work every day to keep children safe."

She said there will be particular things to learn from the case - and that we need to look at the context in which social workers are currently working: "A context of rising demand, cuts to services and the impact of Covid-19 [is] making it much harder to see children and spend time with families."

Gerry also spoke to Channel 4 News last night: “We know that demand on child protection is going up and that there have been cuts to services that have affected the safety net available to children and families.”

“We also know that there’s a high vacancy rate of around 15% within children’s services – and that is going to impact on the number of families that an individual social worker is working with. I think those things really do need to be addressed."

A BASW England member spoke anonymously to BBC Look North about the realities of frontline social work over the last 18 months - the additional pressures the pandemic has presented to social workers, as well as the effects of over a decade of austerity on social services.

“Being a social worker right now is extremely challenging. Caseloads have been on the increase for a number of years

“A lot of austerity cuts have made managing risk for vulnerable children quite challenging in terms of accessing support within the community, particularly from voluntary sector organisations, some of whom have disappeared now.

“Demand has gone up in terms of referrals into social care and supply of social workers is significantly dropping.

“Sometimes I think members of the public don’t fully understand what we actually do… Tabloids don’t help - words such as “child snatcher”, language along those lines doesn’t help.

“We save children from harm on an hourly basis, every day of the year… Coming on here is personally risky but my reason is if I can change one or two public perceptions of social workers and what we actually do, then that’s why I’m sitting here speaking to you.”