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Social Work Support Service to be launched Wales wide as survey reveals pandemic has left social workers “exhausted and seeking professional help”

The service, funded by Welsh Government will be delivered by BASW Cymru

A free peer support service is being launched in November 2021 for social workers across Wales, as practitioners across the country continue to feel the immense strain of working during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Social Work Professional Support Service offers social workers a space to talk and think through any personal or professional issues they may be facing, with a trained volunteer coach who is also a social worker. Social workers who want to support their peers can also volunteer to become coaches themselves, and receive training in coaching and mentoring.

News of the launch comes as stark findings from a health and wellbeing survey by the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust finds an overwhelming number of social workers are struggling with their mental health. Three quarters of respondents describe themselves as emotionally and mentally exhausted. Of these, 17% say they are struggling to cope and 58.7% ‘just about coping’. 70% say they have worried about their mental health, while one in five had to take time off work with stress.

As a result of the pressure of working during the pandemic nearly a quarter – 24% – have sought professional help for their mental health.  Nearly one in ten – 8.5% – have tested positive for Covid-19 themselves and 15.6% have lost a family member or relative due to the virus.

The Social Work Professional Support Service is being funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by the British Association of Social Work Cymru, (BASW Cymru) in partnership with Strengthening Practice, a relational social care training company with a proven history in coaching and support.

On the launch of the service, Allison Hulmes, National Director of BASW Cymru, said: “The Professional Support Service has been specifically designed and delivered by social workers for social workers. During the last 18 months, social workers in Wales have gone over and above to meet the needs of children, young people and adults at great personal sacrifice. The impact of this sacrifice is captured starkly in the wellbeing survey undertaken by the Benevolent Trust. We are grateful to Welsh Government for funding this vital service to support the wellbeing of our essential social work workforce.”

Albert Heaney, Chief Officer for Social Care for Wales at Welsh Government said,

“The pandemic brought unique challenges for social workers who have gone above and beyond to ensure others remain safe. It is fantastic to see BASW Cymru and the Welsh Government working together to provide such a vital wellbeing service and creating opportunities for social workers to talk through important issues with a trained coach.”

Social workers who are keen to support their colleagues by volunteering to become a coach should contact supportservices@basw.co.uk or call 07585918038 for full details on how to apply.