Back from the US now – what a fantastic trip! Lots to do to follow up from the meeting, but back to earth this week and inspired to blog, not by international jet-setting, but by an email alert re the new ‘Help give them a voice’ campaign to promote social work. This should be a good thing shouldn’t it? But I’m just not so sure.
In my job I’m only working alongside people in the social work discipline of course, but I’m all too aware of the growing discontent in the ranks of academics and practitioners. Sue White’s plenary at JSWEC a couple of months ago didn’t pull any punches about the frustrations of social work today, and there has been heated debate on the listservs in the past few weeks about the new definition of social work in the Social Work Taskforce’s interim report. The books I’m working on also reflect this concern about the role of social work and some present a ‘call to arms’ to return to what’s important. Our recently published Radical social work in practice, aims to promote a more constructive social justice approach to a student audience; Ken McLaughlin’s Social work, politics and society (published last year) has received praise for the author’s willingness to challenge current pessimism and paternalism in social work practice. (We’ve also got some exciting and provocative new books in the pipeline – watch this space!)
So, doesn’t parading pretty celebrities, such as Sadie Frost and Samantha Morton (who I’m sure have given their time for free and have hearts in the right place etc etc), to promote the positive aspects of social work seem insensitive and just a little tawdry? I guess it might make the job appear more glamorous to potential new recruits and be less vilified by the Sun-reading public (how could they be angry at Sadie-Frost-social-worker?). I do understand that the short films are planned as adverts but the first at least seems to reduce a complex role into a simplistic soundbite, which won’t help to explain the daily challenges of social work practice to a wider audience.
I look forward to seeing the next celebrity social worker on our screens soon…
Senior Commissioning Editor
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