Thursday, 6 October 2011

Campaign to champion the role of Children’s Social Workers in Yorkshire and the Humber

Issued on behalf of the 15 local authorities across Yorkshire and the Humber

Children’s social workers across the country are handling a record number of cases, with more than 74,000 children in Yorkshire and the Humber alone receiving their vital help and support in the last year.

And now, in a unique two-year campaign, all 15 councils across Yorkshire and the Humber have united to make sure those standards of care will continue to improve for the most vulnerable local children.

Under the banner of “Children’s Social Work Matters”, the campaign aims to attract new social workers to the country’s biggest region and raise industry standards for people already in the job.

It will create new opportunities and tackle misconceptions about the role of a social worker – using real-life stories from members of regional social work teams who dedicate their working lives to child protection.

Alison O’Sullivan, director for children and young people at Kirklees Council who is leading the project, said it was geared towards meeting future challenges and making sure children are always put at the heart of social work.

Alison went on: “It’s important to raise the profile of social work so that people have a deeper understanding of what it’s really like to work with vulnerable children, some of whom are at risk of serious harm. Children’s social workers are passionate about what they do. The job can be intensely challenging and difficult, yet incredibly rewarding – and it makes a real and lasting difference to the lives of young people.

“Across Yorkshire and the Humber, and for a huge variety of reasons, more children than ever need support. The increase is reflected nationally and is due to a growing awareness of child protection issues, especially after the Baby Peter case in London.

“In our region we viewed this as a call to action. Never before have 15 councils joined forces in this way. We want people to have a better understanding of what it’s like to work with vulnerable children and we want to encourage more people to consider it as a career. As the campaign says, Children’s Social Work Matters – and it really does for thousands of families across Yorkshire and the Humber.”

A key element of the campaign is a new website – – which features real life video stories where some of the region’s social workers explain how they manage the challenges and complexities of the job. The website also features children’s social work “champions” – drawn from participating local authorities - who will deal with online questions about their role and what it takes to be a children’s social worker, working with families often living chaotic and distressing lives.

Alison, who has 30 years experience in social work, said the website would be backed by practical measures looking at issues such as training and support for newly qualified graduate social workers.

She said:

“Councils are linking up to learn from each other and to make sure that even in the most challenging of circumstances, social workers have the support they need to transform lives for the better.”

A regional breakdown of the number of children helped by children’s social workers over the last year follows:
• 7,952 in North Yorkshire
• 23,251 in South Yorkshire
• 29,941 in West Yorkshire
• 13,356 in the Humber area

Notes to Editors
1. Yorkshire and the Humber local authorities involved in the Children’s Social Work Matters project are:

West Yorkshire

North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire

South Yorkshire

East Riding
North Lincs
North East Lincs

2. A copy of the Children’s Social Work Matters logo is available from COI Yorkshire and the Humber, tel 0113 346 6086/6084

Media enquiries: Contact Sheila Perry t: 0113 346 6086 or Helen Lister t: 0113 346 6084