Posted on 8/06/2016 by
Dear 'Vicky': secretly filming other social workers broke our trust
An open letter to ‘Vicky’, the social worker who went undercover for a Dispatches programme looking at Birmingham children’s services
Like many other social workers, I suspect, I settled down last week with a huge degree of trepidation to watch the Dispatches documentary that you were so pivotal in. The ensuing hour made me feel plenty of frustration, disappointment and the overwhelming sense that I had been betrayed by somebody who should know better than most the pressure faced by frontline social workers.
A quick look on Twitter confirmed that my feelings were shared by practitioners up and down the country. After a few days spent mulling over the implications of the programme, I felt compelled to write to you.
Last week I went to bed and cried. It wasn’t the first time this year, nor will it be the last
My first, and probably most enduring feeling, is that by choosing to film people covertly and without consent you broke a sacred trust. The importance of being able to speak to colleagues about your cases, your struggles and your successes should never be underestimated. Nor should it be suggested by anybody that by admitting you are finding a case or some aspect of your work challenging, this means a child is at risk.
Vicky, I feel certain that in your career you have struggled and sought support, and offered that support to colleagues in return. But I should imagine there are some devastated social workers in Birmingham who may never feel able to engage in informal peer supervision again, thanks to your deception.
My second thoughts are about your explanation of why you decided to go undercover. The brief interview I read talks about changing the discourse around social work. How did you expect to manage that by using such clandestine measures? The only logical way to change any discourse is to disprove it, and another quick look at the responses on social media demonstrate that, if anything, you have reinforced the existing one.
Finally, I want to say that last week I went to bed and cried. It wasn’t the first time this year, nor will it be the last. On this occasion the source of my tears was not frustration caused by austerity, or because I felt unable to deliver the quality of work a family deserve due to caseloads and conflicting demands. It was because a member of our professional community, our family, decided to betray us in the worst possible way. If one is to believe your interview, you felt you had an opportunity to show the public an insight into the difficulties of our profession. Instead you contributed to a piece of television which directly contradicts what you set out to do.
Source: The Guardian