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WillisPalmer is the leading provider of multi-disciplinary assessments for children in the UK. While our work is focused on children and families, many of our social workers and staff have worked in adult services during their career and recognise that many of the issues highlighted in our campaign are applicable to both children and adult services. As a result, the campaign covers the entire social work profession across the UK.

Why #Respect4SocialWork?

“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,”

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton, wholeheartedly backing #Respect4SocialWork

What social workers do:

Social workers carry out life-changing work on a daily basis and support the most vulnerable children and adults in our communities. Many frontline social workers are based in cash-strapped local authorities which have been under-funded for years. Yet social work professionals carry out creative and innovative work to support the needs of the people they work with.

There is very little understanding of the work that social workers do. Because not all families need the support of a social worker, their job is not universally understood and quite often they are a ‘hidden service’.

Therefore, the work social workers do often goes unnoticed until, sadly, there is a tragedy where a child or adult has been let down by the system. All too often social workers are made to be the scapegoat and face being vilified in the national media.

However, the truly inspirational work that goes on protecting thousands of children and adults from abuse and neglect and ensuring the needs of adults and children are met is rarely commented on.

#Respect4SocialWork wants to turn this situation on its head and celebrate the phenomenal work carried out and urge a greater awareness of social work in our communities, across the UK and in government.

Respect and recognition:

Key public sector professionals such as nurses, teachers and the police are afforded far greater recognition and respect for the work they do, as illustrated in the weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ in honour of NHS staff during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which was completely justified.

Social workers too had to put their health-related fears to one side, wear PPE and carry on as  ‘business as usual’ in order to support vulnerable children, families and adults. Yet no applause was directed towards the social work profession.

Teachers and nurses are talked about favourably in the media and among our communities, yet social workers are insulted with a misconstrued notion of what they look like and what they do. No other profession receives that level of critique.

“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.”

BASW England

Social work during the pandemic:

Social workers are the bedrock of our communities and support people who are disadvantaged or experiencing problems. They enable families to improve their outcomes by directing them to help and support.

This was magnified during the COVID-19 lockdowns where families struggled experiencing job losses or furlough, financial problems, mental ill health, cramped housing conditions, little access to outdoor space, often coupled with low levels of literacy or poor access to the internet.

Yet with many early help and preventative services pared back in the pandemic, social workers had little choice but to step up and, rather than direct vulnerable families towards departments who could help, social workers stepped up to help and helped vulnerable families to complete housing applications online or help women fleeing domestic abuse to access a GP, essentially becoming the 5th emergency service during the pandemic.

Social workers working with vulnerable adults continued to ensure safe hospital discharge throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, completing needs assessments for older people so that they could be provided with care in their own homes or in a residential setting, arranging a hot meal delivery service for those no longer able to attend day centres, luncheon clubs, or have meals prepared by family members.

Family members who would ordinarily care for relatives were highly affected by the pandemic, with the lockdowns preventing or limiting their ability to do so, and social workers were therefore tasked with arranging alternative care provisions to ensure that the needs of vulnerable adults were effectively met.

Furthermore, the pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. People who were already experiencing issues with substance misuse, alcohol misuse, abusive relationships, and poor mental health found themselves with less support available, both family and professional services, and the additional financial pressures and lockdown pressures caused some people to reach crisis point, increasing their vulnerabilities and ability to cope. These people were even more in need of social work services to provide them with the necessary support and interventions to address their issues and help them to maintain positive wellbeing.

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Our Campaign aims

#Respect4SocialWork is urging:

  1. A national celebration of social work across the UK.
  2. Greater awareness of the life-changing work carried out by social workers.
  3. A better understanding of social work – including an end to insulting and inaccurate myths about the profession as “child snatchers” or “sandal-wearing leftie loonies who meddle in people’s lives”.

We hope a more balanced debate will educate the younger generation about the realities of social work and potentially inspire them to choose social work as a profession for themselves in the future. The campaign wants to see an end to the ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’ depiction of social workers whereby if they intervene with a family in need of help they are slammed as ‘meddling’, yet when they miss an opportunity to safeguard a child or vulnerable adult they are hung out to dry and scapegoated.

A greater awareness of the realities of social work should encourage social workers in their profession and make them proud to carry out the work they do in a bid to end the burn out and stress placed on many social workers which contributes to problems around recruitment and retention.

#Respect4SocialWork wants to raise awareness of the outstanding work carried out in the social work profession and for social workers to receive the recognition and respect they deserve.

“Any initiative or campaign that helps the public to understand the major contribution that social workers make to our communities, working alongside people in crisis and providing protection and enabling them to see a way forwards with their lives is vitally important,” said Professor Jones.

“It is important too for social workers themselves to have the opportunity to see recognition for the work they are trying to do and the contribution they are making. It is now 10 years that we have had austerity measures targeting poor families and children. We need this kind of energy to stand up and say families are becoming poorer, disabled and older people are becoming more vulnerable and social workers are less able to provide assistance – getting that message across is crucially important.”

Dr Ray Jones, emeritus professor in social work

Support #Respect4SocialWork

We are calling for as many people as possible to join us on our campaign trail. Supporters can be social workers, professionals who work alongside social workers, members of the public, academics, policy makers – anyone who wants to support the social work profession.

The more support we get for the campaign, the more ammunition we have to call for respect for the social work profession and a greater awareness and celebration of social workers.

To support #Respect4SocialWork, all you have to do is add your name and email address to our Campaign Pledge signup form on the right. This ensures you are counted as a campaign supporter in our campaign barometer.

We will email you with campaign updates through the duration of #Respect4SocialWork including:

  • Levels of support
  • Key achievements
  • Interviews with social workers, academics and officials
  • Campaign news

On becoming a supporter, make your voice heard by showing your support on social media or contacting your local MP.

Spread The Word

To get our campaign aims out to as wide an audience as possible, we are asking our campaign supporters to spread the word. You can do this in the following ways:

Contact your MP

Your MP works for you and can take to government the issues raised by their constituents as important.

Find your local MP here by putting your constituency or county into the search box below and click on their name to send them a pre-written email supporting the campaign:

I wholeheartedly support WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign calling for a greater awareness of the positive and life-changing work that social workers do – and you should too. Find out more on the WillisPalmer website.

Find Your Local MP

Use the search form below to find your local MP


Twitter Logo

Post the following message on your Twitter account.

I fully support WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign calling for a celebration of social work and a greater understanding of the life-changing work social workers do. Pledge your support here:


Facebook Logo

Post the following message as your Facebook status.

I fully support WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign calling for a celebration of social work and a greater understanding of the life-changing work social workers do. Find out more here: and spread the word.


LinkedIn Logo

Show your support on LinkedIn with the following message.

Celebrating the positive contribution that social workers make to our communities, I support WillisPalmer’s #Respect4SocialWork campaign. Find out more here: and spread the word.

If you have a story to share about social work or have any questions about #Respect4SocialWork, don’t hesitate to contact Clare Jerrom, WillisPalmer’s Head of PR and Marketing at

Join Our Pledge 
raise awareness of the great work that social workers do and keep up to date with the progress of our #Respect4SocialWork campaign


Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
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