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Social Work in the UK

14 Oct

Social Service Delivery

The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Statutory bodies, such as local authorities, exist in each country and have the primary remit to support vulnerable children, families and adults within their boundaries.  England alone consists of 433 Local Authorities. 

Social Care services administered by local authorities are generally divided into children and adults departments.  These departments are further divided into teams which work to together to deliver and implement targeted services to support adults in need, and safeguard children whom may have experienced or are at risk of abuse or neglect.

Throughout the UK, there is also a strong presence of charity and voluntary agencies which also depends on Social Workers and other professionals to engage populations in need.  Usually these agencies have a specialist emphasis or focus on a particular issue. They are instrumental in providing services and support structures to these communities.

Securing Employment in the UK as a Social Worker

A first step would be to ensure your qualification meets the standards for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council – the regulatory body for the Social Work profession. There are forms you will need to complete and you will need to evidence that your education meets the standards for practice in the UK. The link will take you to the page with all the forms you will need to complete and the steps you need to take in the process.

If you are not a British Citizen or from the EU or EEA, you will most likely need to obtain a visa through sponsorship via an employer.   For more information on requirements to work in the UK, please refer to the UKBA website.

Once you have confirmed your right to work in the UK, you can begin to search for employment.  This can be done by approaching local authorities or charities directly, or you may wish to consider using the assistance of a Social Work employment agency.  These companies will discuss your work experience and may be able to assist in securing either permanent or locum/temporary work in the UK.

Many agencies and contacts can be found on LinkedIn and representatives are happy to talk to you about the opportunities they have available. Most Local Authorities also have pages on LinkedIn where you can see what positions they have available. It is a great resource for connecting to professionals in the UK. There are also groups specifically for Social Care in the UK and within these special interest groups to increase your exposure to the professional who may be able to assist you in making the decision or transitioning once you arrive.

Key Legislation for Adult Social Care

No Secrets and the best practice guidance

Safeguarding Adults National framework of Standards for best practice

Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970

Mental Health Act 1983

Disabled Persons Act 1986

NHS and Community Care Act 1990

Carers Act 1995

Community Care Act 1996

Care Standards Act 2000

Mental Capacity Act 2005

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Health and Social Care Bill 2011

Public Health White Paper 2010

Protection of Vulnerable Adults Policy

Key Legislation for Children’s Social Care/Social Work

Every Child Matters Agenda

Children Act of 1989 and 2004

Child Protection Procedures

Munro Review

Tackling Delay- Adoption Reform Guidance

Social Work Reform Board Recommendations

Leaving Care Act 2000

London Child Protection Procedures

Working Together 2013

Children & Young Persons Act 2008

UN Convention on Children’s Rights 1989

Human Rights Act 1998

Protection of Children Act 1999

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Asylum and Immigration Act 2004

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

Adoption and Children Act 2002

Fostering Regulations

There is a different legislative structure in Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has the same legislative structure as England.

Sources of Support and networking

NSPCC – National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (charity helping children); many resources for Social Care/Work across the UK; the development of programs and legislative changes

Community Care – Online Social Care Publication, great resource for jobs across the UK as well as the practice of Social Work across the UK and changes

HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council (regulatory body for Social Work profession in England)

Serious Case Reviews – Lessons and recommendations regarding the review of cases where a child has died from abuse or neglect

Guardian Social Care Network – A way to keep up to date with what’s happening in Social Care in the UK

Ofsted – inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

British Association of Social Work – “BASW is the largest professional association for social work in the UK, with offices in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We’re here to promote the best possible social work services for all people who may need them, while also securing the well being of social workers.”

The College of Social Work – identifies the activities need for career progression in Social Work called “The Professional Capabilities Framework” from the student level through senior management.

The Care Council for Wales – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Wales

Scottish Social Services Council – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Scotland

Northern Ireland Social Care Council – regulatory body for Social Work profession in Northern Ireland

Jobs Go Public – a resource listing vacancies in various local authorities

Guardian Jobs – search for social care jobs

The Local Government Association – “The LGA is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government.” They have a component called the Knowledge Hub where you can interact with government employees around key issues and interests.

Useful articles on Working in the UK

How to get a Social Work job in England if you trained abroad

Crossing the boarder: moving between social work in England and Scotland

Five Reasons why Social Work in Scotland is better than England

Social Work in Diverse Britain: A Special Report

Nine Benchmarks to Test your Social Work Decisions Against Each Day

What Social Workers Need to Know about the new NHS

Tools Social Workers Can Use to Talk to Children

Chief Social Worker: “Together, we can drive improvements in adult services”

How to choose the right recruitment agency

Check UK social work departments’ vacancy rates, pay levels, inspection results and much more, to help you find the perfect job

Everything you need to know about finding your perfect social work job in Wales

All the essential information you need to know if you are considering a move to Wales

Social Work UK Blogs

American Social Worker in London

UK Human Rights Blog

How Not to Do Social Work

Keeping the Balance in Social Work

Secret Social Worker

WALL – A Social Work Blog

Fighting Monsters – Life and Thoughts of a British Social Worker

Social Work/Social Care & Media

The Not So Big Society

The Social Work Blog

The Children’s Services Blog

Adult Care Blog

There are several things you need to consider when considering a move to the UK. In response to a group post on LinkedIn in the NASW group, one member wrote this:

Based on my experience over the past 4 years of social work practice and learning about social work education in the UK, I think social work practice in the US is more ecologically grounded with a more therapeutic/clinical focus (I trained as a clinical social worker in the states). Less than a decade ago, you could qualify as a social worker in the UK without having to have a bachelor’s degree. Even now, you do not have to have a Master’s to qualify. The change in the qualification process drove many local authorities to recruit internationally because there weren’t enough people who could qualify as social workers under the new qualification criteria. That’s how I and many other american trained social workers landed up here. Now, immigration laws have changed making it harder for local authoririties to recruit internationally. I mention all of this to say that social work practice is in a different place in the UK which makes it hard to compare with US social work practice standards. The recent changes and innovations in social work practice in the UK are bringing it into more alignment to practices in the US but it has a different context, namely a public social welfare system that can often make UK social workers more the equivalent of caseworkers (if compared to their US equivalent). Alot of this is changing now, with the Eileen Munro review. I was lucky enough to be part of a local authority which has been one of the forerunners in changing social work in the UK but essentially, it is just the beginning of a culture shift in social work practice in the UK. This is something that many of my american social work colleagues practising here in the UK and I speak about. It’s an exciting time to be here and you will probably find that how you are being trained is very different from many of the social workers who will be your senior once you start to practice. All of this has made for an interesting and sometimes challenging transition for American trained social workers like myself and my colleagues working in the UK. I would imagine that a UK trained social worker who qualified years ago would probably need to retrain in the US to qualify in the US. Those doing UK post graduate social work training now would probably have an easier time making the transition but ironically may have more of a challenge transitioning into UK local authorities where old ways of working are still very prevalent. Would be happy to chat more about your experience training here in the UK (and your decision to train here as opposed to in the US).

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9 Comments

Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Social Work Practice

 

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9 responses to “Social Work in the UK

  1. Pingback: Social Work CE
  2. Social Work Shenanigans

    October 15, 2013 at 1:38 am

    How great to come across your blog! Not sure how I missed it…but I will be adding it as a link to mine. My blog focuses on my experience as a Canadian Social Worker navigating through the UK system.

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  3. Rachel Wiggins

    July 2, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Thanks for having such a helpful blog! I’m moving to England as an American social worker (HCPC registered) in 3 weeks and relying on a recruiting agency (REED) more than I’d like to. Any chance you’d be able to recommend any agencies hiring for direct practice in children’s foster care, preferably permanent roles willing to sponsor me? I checked out the link you provided but wanted to know which agencies you found to be reputable with direct practice.. Thanks for the extra help.

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    • TG Consultancy

      July 3, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Hi there,

      I came over through an agency and they arranged everything but I can understand the frustration. The only thing I can suggest is that you approach the local authorities or independent fostering agencies directly. First I would say have a look at the list on the UKBA website of all the agencies willing to sponsor workers. Then if you google “map of london boroughs” you will get a map and you could go to each local authority individually OR you could go to jobsgopublic.com where local authorities from all over England post jobs and you can do a search for anything you like. Personally, I would stay away from the agencies and go directly to the local authorities. But I have worked with Pulse (who helped myself and the group I came with organize things) and since being here I have worked with Charles Hunter Associates and Amicus Recruit.

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