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New campaign #Respect4SocialWork urges greater recognition of social work profession

WillisPalmer is today launching our #Respect4SocialWork campaign urging greater awareness of the life-changing work social workers carry out on a daily basis.

During the pandemic, social workers had to amend their practice in order to support vulnerable children and adults in our communities. Putting their own health fears to one side during the outbreak of COVID-19, social workers had little choice but to don PPE and get out into their communities to ensure the safety of vulnerable children and adults, while quickly getting to grips with technological advances to support their visits with online assessments and meetings.

Chief Executive of WillisPalmer Mark Willis said: “Overnight, the pendulum swung in social work practice from a position where social workers had to justify the use of technology in very rare cases, to having to get on board technologically and upskill to feel confident using Skype, Microsoft Teams or Zoom in order to complement face-to-face visits with online meetings to support vulnerable people.”

“Social workers had to use their skills and experience to utilise technology to get the same benefits as face-to-face assessments when COVID and restrictions prevented actual visits,” added Mark.

“The phenomenal work carried out by the NHS was, rightly, honoured with weekly applause. But because social work is less obvious than some professions as many families do not require access to children’s or adults services, the heroic efforts demonstrated by social workers every day was not recognised in the same way,” said Mark.

Independent Social Worker Mary Cullen told WillisPalmer earlier this year how social workers had stepped up to be the 5th emergency service during lockdown. She explained that as many early help and preventive services were pared back during the pandemic, social workers had to step up and become even more hands on as there was no service to refer people – who may have low literacy skills or no access to the internet - on to help with filling out a form for housing or getting registered with a GP.

“I am very hands on anyway, but with many services unavailable, it was quicker and easier for me to help families fill out forms or contact housing departments than to refer them on. It was a very good insight as to what some parents go through trying to access different services and departments and there was a lot of learning,” said Mary.

“The greatest challenges were ensuring that families had what they needed, that there was enough food in the house, that children were safe and the parents were supported. Often families became very isolated, particularly if they had relied on their professional networks which were gone, and then their mental health deteriorates, whereas others had physical health needs,” she added.

WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign is urging:

  • A greater awareness of the life-changing work that social workers carry out on a daily basis.
  • A better understanding of the social work profession.
  • Greater protection for social workers who often work in hostile or dangerous situations.
  • A celebration of the positive work that social workers do in both children’s and adult services.
  • An end to insulting and outdated myths around social work and social work professionals.

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton has given his backing to #Respect4SocialWork, saying: “The role of Social Workers in our society is unfortunately widely underappreciated – I fully support  #Respect4SocialWork Campaign in the hope that it will raise awareness and appreciation of the importance of Social Workers and to highlight the tremendous efforts they make and impact they have in helping to improve the lives of so many vulnerable children and families who rely on their support.”

BASW England, has also given its endorsement to the campaign, saying: “BASW England supports this campaign as social workers are hard-working professionals doing an extremely difficult job who often go above and beyond the call of duty every day – and have especially done so during the pandemic. They have been on the frontline, at times putting their own lives on the line, yet do not receive the same recognition by government and in the media as our health and other emergency worker colleagues.

“Furthermore, it is absolutely essential that we work to create decent working contexts for social workers where they can make the difference to people’s lives they want to make,” added BASW England.

To add your support to #Respect4SocialWork, you can give your backing to our campaign aims here, share our campaign articles on social media to spread the positive message about social work and contract your MP, telling them that you back WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign – and so should they.

Find out more about WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign here.

If you have any questions about the campaign or want to get involved, or endorse the campaign, please contact Clare Jerrom, Head of PR and Marketing at WillisPalmer by emailing

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