16 October 2003
'Lust for blame' may mean social work problems will not be addressed
UNISON, the union that represents almost all social work staff
in Scotland today issued a clarion call for an end to the witchhunts
and scapegoating that have marked the fallout from the Inquiry report
into the death of Caleb Ness.
The union's City of Edinburgh Branch Secretary, John Stevenson told
the City of Edinburgh Council today (Thursday), (Copies
of his address are available by clicking here) that the kind
of media witchhunt that led to the resignation of Director Les McEwan
made it less likely that social workers would be recruited to fill
the vacancies in Scotland's care services.
"Social workers across Edinburgh have felt sadness, shock, despair,
anger, and despondency in their heart-searching over the death of
Caleb Ness." He said.
"We all feel responsible, and we want to work with the council
in ensuring that procedures are effective and proper support is
available in order to prevent the likelihood of this happening again.
The lust for blame fuelled by the press-led campaign for the Director
of Social Work's resignation shows no understanding of what needs
to be addressed."
UNISON points out that social workers, especially in children and
families work, constantly live with the risk that something unpredictable
and unavoidable will arise.
John Stevenson said: "If this pressure, along with staff shortages,
constant vilification, and relatively poor pay, also includes media
witchhunts, why would anyone want the job? The inquiry clearly states
that no single individual should be held responsible, yet sections
of the media have done their utmost to overturn this. The resignation
of the Director of Social Work will not be a positive step either
for Social Work as a whole, or for children in Edinburgh.
"UNISON is not here to defend bad practice. But we are not here
either to collude with a frenzied search for scapegoats, or to give
credibility to the disgraceful antics of some of the media.
"What is required is for us and the council to ensure standards
are monitored and met, to re-establish the morale of social workers,
to support them in the difficult job they do and for the Scottish
Executive to ensure that it finances the children's services it
UNISON points out that resources are a problem in social work across
Scotland - in Edinburgh 170 children and families social workers
deal with almost half a million of a population - and that issue
must be addressed by ensuring staff have the proper support, access
to the appropriate training, and that they are adequately rewarded.
"This will require the anger to be put on one side, the drive for
scapegoats to be put on hold, and real efforts made in an atmosphere
of calm and considered reflection."
John will address the full City of Edinburgh Council at 10.00am
on Thursday 16 October. Copies
of his address are available by clicking here - please check
For Further Information Please Contact: John Stevenson, Edinburgh
City Branch Secretary 07876 795 018(m) Chris Bartter, Communications
Officer, 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)