A few days ago I spent a couple of hours with Leicester’s social services team. In Thursday’s Leicester Mercury you can read all about the work they do and the horrific cases of child abuse and neglect they have to deal with.
Social workers very often get a bad press. When things go wrong, when a child slips through the net, they are often swiftly blamed. The rest of the time they are accused of the opposite: interference. The attitude prevails that no-one knows how better to look after children than their parents.
The Duty Assessment Service at Leicester social services receives about 100 calls a day from teachers, police, health workers and ordinary members of the public worried about children.
Having observed at first hand some of the calls that come in and some of the dilemmas facing social workers on a daily basis, it is clear that, sadly, sometimes parents do not know what is best for their children.
It’s also quite clear that this is a job most people would not dare to do.
The responsibility to get things right 100% of the time is immense. Real children’s lives are at stake. One wrong call and, as we saw in the Baby P tragedy in Haringey, children die and people get sacked.
The social workers I spoke to were passionate about their jobs and clearly have a real sense of purpose to do what’s best for children who live in a world far away from what most of us are used to.
It’s a profession that is very rarely thanked. I think we should reconsider that.
PS Working late tonight as just covered the latest meeting at Leicester City Council dealing with the proposed closure of Riverside College. A report about it in tomorrow’s Mercury and I’ll blog about it later in the day.