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Social Work Together

Former social workers ready to return to essential roles in response to Covid-19 pandemic

Social Work Together

4/2/2020 9:00:00 AM

Thousands of former social workers are now able to support the national effort in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  

Social Work England, the specialist regulator for almost 100,000 social workers in England, has temporarily reinstated the professional registration of 8,000 former social workers so they can fill vital roles in local communities across England in this critical situation

Alongside other care professions, they are more important than ever as society faces unprecedented upheaval. 

Social Work England 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. It is also contacting social workers who are already on the professional register, but not in employment, to ask them to consider going back to social work during the emergency.   

Alongside the register, a campaign - Social Work Together - is being launched in partnership with the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care and the Local Government Association to allow social workers to express their interest in employment opportunities in these extraordinary times. A website has been launched, which will connect those offering their expertise to local employers. The social worker section can be accessed at local.gov.uk/social-work-together, while local authorities looking to register should go to www.local.gov.uk/Social-work-together-council.

Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, said: “This is a huge joint effort with all of our partners to get social workers back into practice and to people who need their support, as fast as possible, without compromising standards or safety. People who need support in our society are more vulnerable than ever right now. 

“I would like to thank all the social workers who have already indicated that they want to come back to work, as well as all those currently practising in extremely challenging circumstances.” 

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.” 

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.”  

LGA Chairman, Cllr James Jamieson, said: “Social workers do a hugely important job supporting families and our most vulnerable. Allowing a fast-track way to temporarily return to practice during this difficult time is a much-needed boost for an already over-stretched social care workforce.

“Councils’ absolute priority is protecting the most vulnerable from this coronavirus, and thousands of additional social workers are critical to achieving this. We look forward to working with Social Work England and other partners to ensure that former social workers re-joining the profession can be placed in councils as soon as possible.” 

Social workers who want to check if they have been temporarily added to the register, and those who wish to opt out, can find more information on the dedicated coronavirus section of the Social Work England website