Dear Deirdre


Dear Deirdre

I suppose you are making an effort with your survey on the Sun website asking readers to tell you all that is wrong with social work.

Personally though, I find it insulting that you were given a place on the Social Work Taskforce that is to report on changes and improvements to be made to Social Work. Although apparently more front line workers are being included, unfortunately, Deirdre remains.  And no, justifying her position because of a Sun petition is not a defence, it is even more of an insult. Let’s put this simply – I say this for the following reasons:-

The Sun organised a campaign which included false reporting of social work – victimised individual social workers and questioned the mental health of a social worker. Now, they are claiming ‘victory’ in successfully causing the dismissal of a social worker and social work managers. Fine with the managers, but honestly if I live and work in a country where red top journalism and over-hyped dishonest media campaigns can lead to dismissal rather than incompetence in the workplace then it isn’t doing very much for morale – don’t you think?

What experience do you have of social work? Seriously. What knowledge beyond what your colleagues report? Where has there been any will to engage –  I see you pulled out of the Community Care Live event? Can’t take the heat, eh, Deirdre?

Fine, if the taskforce wants a media representative – there are many worthy journalists from Community Care or The Guardian who have consistently shown a knowledge and appreciation of the wider issues within social work but AN AGONY AUNT FROM THE SUN??? Who on earth is going to take Social Work seriously if they think that newspaper agony columns offer some kind of expertise in social work?

I don’t want to be trialled and judged by media – I want to do my job well and effectively and be supported by professional organisations and relevant government departments – not held up to some kind of media trial that you seem to be creating by surveys.

If the task force was REALLY interested in views it would have made the meetings for social workers actually more accessible rather than bunching them in with a few days notice and filling up within hours. I desperately wanted to attend one of the feed back days but my only possibility in London was about a week after I found out that they existed because the other date filled up within a day. Hardly feasible for the front-line workers who, you know, have work to do..

Well, I’ve made my views clear but lets try and get to Deirdre’s ‘survey’ and give her some of the opinions she so  obviously wants from Sun readers.

For the record, Deirdre, your first question on that survey, you know where you get one answer and have to say if you have ever had contact with a social worker or you are a social worker.. you know, sweets, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

I am a social worker. My foster child has a social worker, myself and my partner have a supervising social worker, my father who is, himself, elderly (sorry Dad, I know you are reading this!) has a social worker. So what on earth made you think that no social worker can possibly actually USE the services of social workers for your oh-so-helpful survey.

Bleh.  Oh well, I guess it makes a change not to see the pressing issues of infidelities or what to do if you’ve impregnated your next door neighbour’s daughter on your problem page (although I suspect that’s only in the online edition).

image gene hunt at Flickr

Go and fill it out though, guys, and let her know exactly what we think.

Oh and Deirdre, if you do ever find your way here, I’d love to hear your defence.

Wow, I sometimes have grumps but don’t often have a full-on rant. Sometimes it feels quite good.

19 thoughts on “Dear Deirdre

  1. I got stuck on question 5.

    Q5:These are some the different jobs social workers do. Which three of these do you think are the most important?

    How are we supposed to say that e.g. “Helping older people” is more or less important than, say, “Looking after children who have been taken into care”? Where’s the tick box for, “Actually, they’re ALL important”?

    As for question 10.

    “Do you think social workers would do a better job if they got more support from any or all of the following?”

    Tick boxes for schools, government, police…but strangely not a tick box for “the media”. Maybe the Scum thinks it’s doing a sterling job of supporting social workers, so the question is moot?

    • Any more observartions about the survey?

      Community Care is thinking of compiling a list and using it to create a ‘mirror’ survey that asks the right questions.

      We’ll then able able to send the results to The Sun and the Social Work Taskforce.

  2. I have just read through the survey. Question five confused me, why three boxes that are important? All of them are important! I didnt feel question seven was particularly fair where it says social workers spend most of their time on computers. Yes, social workers do spend a large amount of time on computers but this is because of the system they have to follow. Don’t they think that if they could have more time with service users they would? Instead writing reports takes a huge amount of time to deal with. Which is not a fault on social workers at all. I agree with the comment above for question 10 – maybe if the media stopped flaunting all the negative aspects then social workers would get more recognition for the positive things. The media has such a huge influence on people – it’s our way of knowing what’s happening in the world and it can influence us to think about society and people in different ways. How are we supposed to stand up for social work if we are constantly getting knocked down by the media?

  3. The whole survery is very biased. There is no list of choices to suggest why the support you received was good but there is if was bad. Very loaded…

  4. Why is Sanders acting unilaterally of the Social Work Taskforce of which she is (lamentably) a member? This is no way to conduct a Survey and it is too biased and the comments above I totally agree with.

    I have made my own objection to her inclusion on the SWTF to my local MP and urge others to do the same. At a recent regional SWTF Meeting there was outrage expressed at her inclusion and a request that Ed Balls have the strength of feeling about it conveyed to him.

    I feel that SW’s ought to both boycott The Sun newspaper and this Survey – it just further denigrates and demeans the social work profession.

    • Personally I’d be happy to boycott the Sun, except that it would be a bit meaningless in my case since I’ve refused to read the bloody thing for years.

      I don’t use the Sun to line my cat litter tray. It isn’t fit for my cats to take a shit on.

  5. Thanks for all the comments – bit of an early night yesterday so didn’t get a chance to catch up after work!

    Zarathustra – love it! And you are right in highlighting those questions – I think they are poorly thought out. And the media (and the Sun) has a massive role in perpetuating myths.

    Emma – thanks for that. I like the idea!

    K – yes, that question really bugged me too but I didn’t want to be too ranty! I think they are pandering to all the stereotypes that they, themselves, have created. I was thinking of a ‘support our social workers’ like a ‘support our troops’ campaign – and then I got a little sickening shudder and thought there are probably better ways.. !

    TT – Exactly

    Philip – I agree about the inappropriateness of her place but I doubt a boycott would make much difference, as like Z says, I don’t think many social workers read The Sun… as for boycotting the survey – if she’s going to read the results, I want HER to know how we feel about her being on the taskforce..

    Reas – you should see what I’m like when I get ranting in person… er.. or maybe better not to.. but it is enormously cathartic..

  6. Wow! This is pretty incredible! It sounds as if she is the equivalent of the US’s “Dear Abby.” How did she get chosen to be on the panel? And that survey…what a mess!

  7. Go you!
    She really doesn’t deserve to be on that panel. Not when she’s gunning for the whole profession with both barrels!

  8. I’m currently doing a Masters in Social Work. I’ve twice had contact with social workers while myself being in the role of service user. On both occassions I was experiencing fairly severe mental health problems and the social workers in question were mental-health social workers (one was almost certainly an ASW (now AMHP), don’t know about the other one). I dread to think how the Sun would portray me if they ever had cause to.

    (I’m guessing they haven’t heard of Peter Beresford. Since when have the mental health diagnoses a person may have been more important than how well they do their job (with the correct support and/or adjustments if necessary)? – oh wait, since forever, it’s only the soppy, anti-oppressive, equal-opps-promoting, PC social work brigade who try to argue that the realities of a person’s daily life are more important than the labels attached to them …. *sigh*)

    Have been reading for a few weeks – fantastic blog cb, keep up the good work 🙂

  9. Amy – I don’t know Dear Abby but it sounds similar by the way you are reacting – basically ridiculous tabloid agony aunt who is more used to answering joke questions about what to do if you are sleeping with your neighbour and your husband finds out and fancying your step-daughter.. all probably invented by bored journalists.

    wardbunny – thanks and it’s true – it just makes me so grrrr!

    Broken Idealist – Thanks for the kind words. And yes, it makes me so angry sometimes that people (read: The Sun and their ilk) are so ready to categorise people and then seem to be given some kind of ‘expert’ role by the govt. Again, I’ve said it before but it makes me so angry..

  10. I guess she is a step down from Dear Abby…Dear Abby has a few “joke” question but tends to answer some serious ones, too. Still…I don’t think Dear Abby would be an appropriate representative for the direction social work should take in our country or any other country. Wow!

  11. Wow cb, that sounds like a very therapeutic post! Go you!

    Zarathurstra- the comment about lining the cat’s litter tray made me laugh. Did you ever see the episode of the Good Life where Margo gives Tom some magazines to line the pig hutch, and then takes a couple back because they’ve got pictures of the Royal Family in them?

  12. Amy – I know, it’s scary!
    Seratonin Sister – Hurrah! Thanks!
    Julie – it was quite good to get it out of the system!

  13. I’m a recent social work graduate and……

    No, hang on.

    Deirdre from “Dear Deirdre” is a real person?????
    I though that page was just a comedy soft-porn article, written by one of the editorial staff, letters and all.

    Shows how much respect this government has for social work as a profession, then.
    I won’t be taking the Taskforce seriously if they’re not going to, either.

  14. Blandini – thanks for the comment – and of course, I agree although I hope we are heard although I doubt it as the govt has a ‘pandering to News International’ agenda.

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