Celebrities launch social worker appeal

By Ian Dunt

A host of celebrities have launched a television appeal to counter the desertion of social workers from the profession in the wake of the Baby P scandal.

Actor Samantha Morton spearheaded the appeal with a description of the “wonderful” social workers who helped her as a child, while musician Goldie and Eastenders star Michelle Ryan also contributed to the adverts.

“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,” Ms Morton said.

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

The profession has been hugely damaged by the Baby P scandal, with social workers suffering from low morale and a suspicious public.

“Thousands of children and families desperately need the help and support social workers give in difficult, and sometimes dangerous, situations,” said children’s secretary Ed Balls.

“It is a job that makes a difference in ways that most of us can only begin to imagine.”

Mr Balls was instrumental in the reaction to the Baby P case, which was triggered by the death of the child despite being seen by professionals in Haringey more than 60 times.

The campaign, Help Give Them A Voice, also features Gavin and Stacy star Joanna Page and Skins star Nicholas Holt.

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 has become the focus of many social workers’ anger for the manner in which he responded to the tragedy, most notably by sacking Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey’s director of children’s services, live on television.