NIASW welcomes ministers strong social work support

NIASW has welcomed comments by social services minister Michael McGimpsey in which he emphasised the need to safeguard social work services from cuts and praised Northern Ireland’s social workers for their role in protecting the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our society.

Speaking at a conference in Lisburn, Mr McGimpsey said social workers carried out “invaluable” work and said the current work of a ten-year strategy for the profession was partly about making the profession more attractive to new recruits.

“We need to encourage the best to come forward and make sure that social workers are confident and supported in what they do. That is why my Department has developed the first social work strategy for Northern Ireland. The aim of this strategy is to strengthen supports for frontline workers and to address some of the challenges faced by social workers.”

The minister sought to sooth concerns about potential budget cuts by describing health and social care as “a necessity – not a luxury”. He told delegates at the Social Work at its Best conference: “That is why I will continue to fight to protect these vital services from further crippling cuts.”

NIASW manager Carolyn Ewart said the ministers comments were a positive signal of the Northern Ireland administration’s commitment to the profession. Commenting on the ten-year strategy, however, she urged social workers to get involved in the current consultation period, in order to press the Northern Ireland Assembly to go further in its ambitions for the profession.

The initial deadline for the 10 Year Strategy for Social Work In Northern Ireland: 2010 – 2020, launched by the Department for Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) in the summer, is 15 October. Consultation events are scheduled for Belfast and Derry.