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More needs to be done to support social workers facing intimidation and threats – Gildernew

6 June, 2018 - by Colm Gildernew

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Carers, Colm Gildernew MLA said today that more needs to be done to support social workers and health service staff  after a reports released into the impacts of intimidation, threats and violence against social workers. 

As a former social worker Colm is only too aware how valuable social workers are but also about the challenges they face.

Colm Gildernew said:

“Social workers are an extremely important asset to the health service and the community. 

“Often bridging the gap between clinical and social care, social workers help address some of the most challenging and complex cases to help ensure the best outcomes for all involved.

"Being a social worker can be such a rewarding experience but it can also be a challenge. 

“As a former social worker for several years, I have experienced this problem myself and am well aware of the prevalence and insidious nature of intimidation, threats and violence against professionals working with some of the most vulnerable in our society at times of crisis and stress. 

“This report ‘Insult and Injury’ highlights many of the negative aspects of the job. Nearly 9 out of 10 social workers surveyed have experienced intimidation. Over 4 out of 10 have been physically assaulted at least once.

"More needs to be done to support social workers and health service staff. Recently we heard of the level of assaults on hospital staff, with around 35,000 incidents reported. We need to break the silence and explore the issues raised in this report.

"Unfortunately, too many social workers go to their job with a conviction to endure and preserve through it all, accepting abuse as just part of their job. Often seeing the situation or person behind it all.

"Sinn Féin believes that our health service is our workforce. 

“We need to ensure that employers have measures in place to support lone workers, at work and in the community. 

"They need to ensure that support is not only offered but readily available following incidents. We also need to ensure that social workers report incidents and follow through with the measures to resolve them.

"Sinn Féin welcomes this report and will work with the NIASW on its recommendations." 

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