British Association of Social Workers

Tens of thousands of social workers throughout the UK devote their lives to helping children out of desperate and abusive situations. To get to the root of what could help more families, we asked these professionals about the pressures they face.
When asked to compile a guest list for a dream dinner party, precious few would add Education Secretary Michael Gove to the usual suspects of Ghandi, Jesus, Churchill, John Lennon et al; yet in Westminster political circles Gove is a shrewd and much respected political figure, a Svengali for New Tories and a man mooted as a future leader.
A former secretary at global corporation Shell, in her youth Gloria Foster was described by a friend as "incredibly glamorous, she loved life". In later life, following a stroke, her vitality faded, and she became reclusive, not wanting her many friends to witness her decline.
Mick Philpott did not commit this crime because he was on benefits, but because of the narcissistic and controlling person he was. It would be a backwards step in our understanding of human behaviour if we start viewing people's actions through a prism of their income. The Philpott children were much loved; they had siblings and extended family who will undoubtedly be suffering terribly from their loss. I hope that Mick Philpott's living children will be supported not stigmatised, as Fred West's children have been, by dint of birth through their grief.
Today is World Social Work Day, but given the dire state of public services, many might reach a conclusion that there is little to celebrate. This year's theme of 'Promoting Social and Economic Equalities' does not sit comfortably with vulnerable people who are being told by social workers that they cannot have help because of funding cuts.
When the wider provision of support for vulnerable children and families is under systemic assault from the decimation of central and local government budgets, some old recycled statistics and 16 isolated families do not merit a reason to be cheerful.
We don't currently live in a country that practices population control, and the poor children that the government seeks to punish simply for existing are already here and a part of our society. We can't send them back, nor should we wish them away.
Yes, social workers make an assessment of a child's situation, but this then has to be scrutinised by managers and local authority lawyers before the child even begins their journey through the care system and the family courts system, whether that is temporary foster care before being returned home, or being removed from home on a permanent basis.
When the 17-year-old Shafilea went missing on 11 September 2003, it was her teachers who reported her missing seven days later. Her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, did not bother to do so. Because they killed her.