Social Work England has temporarily reinstated the registration of 8,000 former social workers in a bid to help social work departments continue running amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulator of the social work profession has written to suitably qualified social workers who left the profession in the last two years to advise them that they can now practise again if they wish to. Temporary registration means they can now apply for roles with local authorities, health trusts and other employers in England, helping to protect the public amidst staff shortages during these unprecedented times.
Social Work England is also contacting social workers who are already on the register, but not currently in employment, to ask them to consider going back to social work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford, said: “Social workers are the unsung heroes of our society and their dedication to supporting families and children in their care during this pandemic is truly outstanding.
“The unprecedented challenges we face are putting a strain on our social care system, and I am proud to see how many social workers have come forward already to play a critical role battling this virus – we owe them all a debt of gratitude,” she added.
WillisPalmer reported last week how Rita Long* a frontline social worker was working in a team of four rather than at full capacity of eight.
And with tensions rising as families are cooped up during self-isolation, it is likely that referrals to social work departments will rise, despite fewer staff working, for example, those with underlying health issues who have been advised to stay at home. Local authorities often see a rise in referrals following Christmas when families spend much more time together than usual and COVID-19 brings with it anxieties over health, families, financial situations and many families home educating children while working from home.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The skill, expertise and commitment shown everyday by social workers up and down the country is a vital part of our collective battle against COVID-19. I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of them.
“We are calling on all those who left the profession within the last two years to return and support the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
“I want to give a huge thank you to all those social workers currently providing essential support to people in exceptionally difficult circumstances. It is incredibly humbling to see everybody pulling together to provide outstanding care and support to those that need it," he added.