Episode two of the four-part Channel 4 social work drama ‘Kiri’ aired tonight (Wednesday). Last week’s opener focused on investigating and exploring the decision made by Miriam, the allocated social worker, to allow Kiri an unsupervised visit to her paternal grandparents. This led to her subsequent abduction and death. In my review last week, I acknowledged that Miriam demonstrated some good social work skills. However, I felt it was yet another unrealistic and damaging portrayal of social workers on screen and depicted a number inaccuracies. Whilst I remain of this view; that ship has sailed!
This week’s episode, in brief, offered some interesting twists and turns in relation to ‘whodunit’. Much of it focused on the paternal grandparent, Tobi, and his search for his son, Nate, who protests his innocence when found. Doubt also grows in relation to Kiri’s foster brother, Simon, as a possible suspect in as much as he lied to the police regarding his whereabouts on the day of Kiri’s death and that her jumper was found in a bin in his bedroom.
Whilst Miriam’s involvement was rather limited in this episode, aside from the hip-flask, it was significantly less contentious than the first.
During the episode, we witness Miriam being further vilified by the press for her ‘role’, assaulted by a member of the public and informed that she might be struck off from the HCPC register; As well as investigated through a serious case review and public enquiry. In one of the final scenes, Miriam gives a passionate defense of her actions to reporters stationed outside her home address.
Links to ‘real life’ social work
Whilst it’s not lost on me that this is a fictional drama, overall I felt today’s episode was a more accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a ‘real life’ social worker (notwithstanding the classic social work stereotype). It showed the potential stresses and strains of the job; focusing on the challenges and, sometimes, emotionally traumatic experiences social workers face on a daily basis. It demonstrated the seriousness and aftermath of what can happen when things ‘go wrong’ and, as a profession, the responsibility bestowed upon us as well as the repercussions.
During Miriam’s passionate defence to reporters, she spoke of her reasons for joining the profession; of which I am sure will resonate with most social workers. With there being limited positive publicity of social work in the media, it was refreshing to depict Miriam as having humility, honesty and integrity; it demonstrated that social workers are vulnerable too and that we join the profession to make a difference. Like the majority of social workers, Miriam talked about her love for the profession and in wanting support those assessed as in need.
Whilst I remain of the view that the inaccuracies depicted in the first episode does nothing but damage our reputation, future workforce and retention of staff; this evenings showing was an engaging TV drama, which showed the human element of social work. It showed just how social work decisions can divide opinion within a nation and how intrusive the press can be and how quick judgements can be made. It highlighted some excellent ‘pointers’ for both social workers and line managers; and that is the fact that decisions should never be made in isolation and effective support networks (both professional and personal) are key ingredients in the promotion of a social workers well-being.
What did you think?