Page last updated at 00:54 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 01:54 UK

Campaign seeks new social workers


The campaign includes celebrities Goldie, Joanna Page, Michelle Ryan and Emilia Fox

A TV campaign is being launched to try to recruit more than 5,000 social workers, amid fears the Baby Peter case has turned people off the profession.

Launching the appeal, actress Samantha Morton spoke of the "wonderful" social workers who supported her as a child.

Fashion designer Sadie Frost, former EastEnders star Michelle Ryan and musician Goldie are among those appearing in the adverts.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said social workers "transform lives".

"Thousands of children and families desperately need the help and support social workers give in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.

"It is a job that makes a difference in ways that most of us can only begin to imagine," he said, adding that its success stories were "rarely heard".

I had some wonderful social workers who supported me and helped me achieve my goals in life
Samantha Morton

The Help Give Them A Voice campaign aims to attract back social workers who may have left the profession and people looking for a career change, as well as people making initial career choices.

It also features Skins star Nicholas Holt and Joanna Page, who plays Stacey in the hit TV series Gavin and Stacey, with each of the actors playing a child or adult in need of the support of a social worker.

Morton, who was looked after in care in Nottingham as a child, said she experienced some "wonderful" social workers who helped her realise her ambitions.

"My early life from infancy to leaving home at 16 was spent in care. I had some wonderful social workers who supported me and helped me achieve my goals in life," she said.

"There are many people out there, whether they be children, families, vulnerable adults, even the aged, who need a social worker."

Goldie, who has appeared in EastEnders and several reality television shows, said he spent most of his life until he was 18 with social workers.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls and musician Goldie on the importance of social work

He told BBC News: "I wouldn't be where I am now without a lot of the help from social workers because I was this really frustrated young child who didn't have anyone to communicate with.

"I think that for me, having a social worker there on a regular basis kind of got me out of my shell a little bit."

Handling criticised

Emilia Fox, another actress supporting the campaign, said: "I think we have got to a really critical situation where people are shying away from becoming social workers because of the bad press about the job.

"But this leaves a lot of people who do need social workers and do need care, alone and without anyone, so this is really to encourage people into a profession with responsibility."

Mr Balls was criticised by figures including the head of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, David Clark, for his treatment of social workers in the wake of Baby Peter's death.

Peter had more than 50 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken back, when he was found dead in August 2007, despite having been seen by professionals in Haringey, north London, more than 60 times.

Two official reviews made it clear that mistakes were made by police, doctors, health visitors and health service managers.

Mr Balls announced the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith - Haringey's director of children's services - live on television and four more social work staff, including Ms Shoesmith's deputy, were later dismissed by the council.

In May, a survey for the Local Government Association (LGA) suggested the criticism of the profession following the case had had a "highly damaging effect" on the ability of local councils in England to recruit social workers.

It found 60% of the 56 councils taking part in the study had experienced problems hiring children's social workers and 40% reported difficulties in retaining experienced staff.

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