So, we have come to learn that ‘Vicky’, the social worker that went undercover in the recently aired Dispatches programme “Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services”, has been referred to the HCPC.
As many of us already know, ‘Vicky’s’ actions have caused a divide within the social work camp – with some reporting that she has done social work a “service”, whilst others argue that she has breached the HCPC Code of Conduct which underpins our social work practice. Specifically, respecting confidentiality with service users and being honest and trustworthy.
My view in relation to ‘Vicky’s’ actions is that they were not malicious in nature. Moreover, they were as a result of her desire or wanting to highlight the environment within which one section of social work is practiced – Children’s Services. Let us not lose sight here that work in Children’s Services is only one ‘spoke’ of a very complex wheel in which social work is practiced on a day to day basis.
Whatever your position, we must all accept that ‘Vicky’ was somewhat ‘hoodwinked’ by the Dispatches programme in how it would be edited and aired. Yes, ‘Vicky’ was naïve and yes, as a qualified social worker, I would have highlighted my concerns differently. However, as I have detailed in my earlier articles, social work practice in Children’s Services is a political hot potato. This combined with it being a very emotive subject often results in negative attention from the media, which further compounds public perception of social work more generally. Only those that are involved in the running of day to day Children’s Services fully appreciate its challenges and, despite public perception, has many many success stories and outcomes for some of society’s most vulnerable people.
As a caring profession, whereby we promote and advocate for those in need and are less fortunate, my view is that we should support ‘Vicky’ in her time of need. Let us use our core social work values to help ‘Vicky’ learn from her mistake. Only then, when we act in unity, will we truly give our profession the recognition and credit it fully deserves.