Respect for Social Work campaign launched

Two leading social care associations have launched the Respect for Social Work campaign to stem the damaging levels of stress within the sector and halt a staff exodus.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and Social Workers Union (SWU) are urging Parliament, employers and the press of the need for better working conditions for social workers, to eliminate the threat of social workers leaving the job because of high demands and cuts.

In July, the UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing study emphasised the problems of diminishing resources and increasing demands, causing record-high sickness levels. Worryingly, 52 per cent of those surveyed in the report stated an intention to leave the profession early, increasing to 55 per cent for social workers in children’s services.

Of the reasons given, high, unmanageable caseloads, a lack of professional and peer support and burdensome red-tape and bureaucracy came top for over 70 per cent of social workers surveyed.

BASW and SWU are calling for management regimes of unmanageable workloads to end, to reduce stress and attrition rates, ensure time for reflective supervision to work through complex cases and treat social workers like professionals who have solutions as well as legitimate concerns.

Ruth Allen, CEO of BASW, said: “We know the key elements of success: access to professional supervision, manageable caseloads, good leadership and management, fair pay, reduced unnecessary bureaucracy, time to spend with individuals and families, and access to ongoing professional development and well-being support. Peer support amongst social workers is also crucial and protects against burn out, as the study showed.”

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