Monday, April 06, 2009

Stand Up Now For Social Work?

Community Care magazine has launched a campaign called 'Stand Up Now For Social Work', to demand better PR for social work.

There is a clear case for this given the media witch-hunting over the Baby P case, but it seems to me that it falls woefully short and only addresses quite superficial issues.

According to the campaign's organiser, 'Stand Up Now For Social Work' has three central aims:
1. Better media coverage of social work (to achieve better public perceptions of the profession)
2. More government support (the government has supported the police and teaching, with the ‘Those who can, teach’ campaign – social work deserves something similar)
3. Better support from employers (lots of local authorities refuse to allow social workers to tell their positive stories to the press. The result is that the only coverage the profession gets is when there is a child death. LAs need better, more proactive PR to tell the good news)

But what about better funding? More social workers? Reduced workload? Reversal of some of the restructuring measures that have made both the service and workers' conditions worse? I'm no expert on how social work is organised, and I'm sure that there are issues other than this (I think better IT might be one), but you get my drift ...

Some media coverage of London Underground annoys me, although it is rarely as nasty as the commentary on social work by the likes of the Sun (except when we go on strike, of course). But rather than demand better media coverage of the Tube, I'd sooner demand better funding, cheaper fares, more accessible stations, more reliable train services, and more staff with better pay and conditions. Yes, you have to tackle negative media coverage - particularly from the right-wing, reactionary, keep-the-nanny-state-out-of-the-private-family-sphere stuff of the tabloids - but a signficantly better service would be much harder for the press to attack.

The second demand mentions the government's 'those who can, teach' campaign. I suspect that if I were a teacher, my reaction to that campaign would be to resent the government running a PR campaign whilst doing nothing about low pay, massive class sizes, workload, testing, privatisation, etc.

Perhaps these problems arise from this initiative coming from a magazine rather than from workers or socialists?