Social workers play a vital role in supporting families and individuals, helping them to overcome barriers and make positive changes.
And those working in the profession say they are expecting a huge increase in work once the current lockdown restrictions start to be relaxed.
March has been designated as Social Work Month, a time to celebrate the work social workers do in the community.
But many working in the profession say they feel forgotten compared to other key workers during the coronavirus crisis. A Community Care poll of almost 500 social workers in England found 75 per cent of those questioned felt more negative about their job in November 2020 than they had 12 months before.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has predicted that social workers will see their workloads increase as the nation attempts to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic later this year.
The end of the first lockdown saw a surge in referrals and professionals are expecting a similar rise in demand once the current restrictions are relaxed.
In November and December last year, the BASW carried out a survey of its members and found more than two out of three respondents had seen an increase in their caseloads since schools went back in September.
More difficult to protect the vulnerable
And more than three out of four were worried that lockdown restrictions were making it more difficult to protect the vulnerable. Making contact with families over Zoom rather than in person makes it more challenging to spot potential problems with living conditions or circumstances.
Allison Hulmes, the national director of BASW Cymru, said: “There are so many children who wouldn’t have been vulnerable prior to the pandemic but have become vulnerable as the pandemic has unfolded. Our fear is that there will be an absolute tsunami of need which will translate into increased referral and increased demand on the profession.”
A government review of children’s social care in England has already been started, while the Welsh Government has said it is working closely with local authorities to address any problems caused by the pandemic. A social service workforce review is also being carried out in Northern Ireland to look at how the current and anticipated demand can be met.
AlphaBiolabs carries out DNA, drug and alcohol testing on behalf of social workers and local authorities. These tests are often required as part of child protection matters and may be used to help monitor the progress of individuals with a history of addiction or substance misuse.