Tag Archives: social work

Social Work over the last 60 years

There is an excellent article from September 2012 in the British Journal of Social Workers  by Dr Ray Jones of Kingston University – ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Social Work and its Moment’

You can read the full article here.

The summary says:

Social work in the UK has had a torrid time, castigated for not protecting children from risk and cornered as the rationer of scarce resources for adults. Over the past sixty years, it has struggled to create a strong and appropriate professional space and its identity and role have remained contested. This paper recounts the debates and dilemmas which have encompassed and engrossed social work, but also recognises that there is now a stronger platform in the UK for social work as a profession. The paper notes what is special about social work and how it might be promoted.

How is the system doing?

Key points from recent discussion from the Guardian Social Care Network about the child protection system and how it is faring. Some examples of what said are below:

Misrepresentation of Social Work

Andrew Webb, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services: “I agree entirely with the comments about us needing to understand and promote sucess in working with children at risk of harm. But I still get very frustrated by the lack of sustained access for the sector to promote this in the face of all the presumptions about how our systems are failing so many children.”


Building trust between families and the authorities

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of the Family Rights Group: “What can make a difference is access to specialist independent advice and advocacy – with advisers who can assist families to navigate the system and consider what is in the child’s interests and what would work, without fear that that the adviser will judge them or has power over them.”


Improving liaison between different organisations

June Thoburn, professor of social work, University of East Anglia: “Working across agencies and professions works best when a ‘team around the family’ approach is used, and that works best when child and family social work teams combine family support and child protection work and are locality based.”

David Niven, of David Niven Associates: “All serious case reviews talk about failures in communication between agencies – this is true but I believe it’s compounded by massive restructuring in most organisations, partly due to the austerity measures, and so the people in different agencies that are meant to liaise with each other now frequently have never met so there is no relationship to built on.”

Carol Long: “Some local authorities already have a multi-agency safeguarding hub or similar which, if they are working effectively, show great promise in identifying cases where children may be at risk. ”

Sue Woolmore, chair, Association of Independent LSCB Chairs: “Local safeguarding children boards have a role to play in creating a culture of information sharing which puts the needs of the child at the centre, rather than allowing workers to feel inhibited by threats of legal action/data protection/confidentiality. This is no easy task and is a real test of how child-centred the system is willing to be.”

Child protection issues on television, film and radio

Documentaries and news reports

Social work and social workers



  • Love is not enough a series of programmes made by the BBC following the adoption process in the UK, following 4 families from the initial interview stage through to the placement and beyond. 
  • Panorama The Truth About Adoption Filmed in Coventry, this documentary covers the search for an adoptive family for two sisters, decision making about the future of 3 children in care, and the story of a little boy whose foster parents want to adopt him but whose birth mother wants him back.
  • A Home For Maisie In her 8 years of life, Maisie has lived in 10 different homes and been through 2 adoption disruptions. She has significant emotional and behavioural needs. Social services have placed her for adoption one final time, with a couple who have already adopted 8 older children, but if this doesn’t work out, Maisie will spend the rest of her childhood in care. This documentary follows the family and Maisie as they go through therapy at Family Futures, an organisation with a 95% success rate at keeping families together.


Special Guardians




Jo Brand and Alan Davies appear in ‘Damned’ on Sky Arts, a comedy/drama about a social work team struggling in a chaotic office. Read Jo Brand’s interview with the Radio Times and how she hopes this programme will show people what its really like to be a social worker.

Silent Witness – Protection. BBC Drama from January 2015, focusing on how the social services ‘deal with the issue of abusive or neglectful parents, giving the well-worn theme a new slant that wisely avoided black-and-white right and wrong moralising’ (review from The Edge).