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Issue:- 17/18  February 2009


“I get daily verbal threats over the phone, I’m threatened with violence, face to face, every 2 weeks. I‘ve had threats made, not just against myself, but to my family and children, I have had my car vandalised on several occasions. I have been locked in a house, and had items thrown at me that have hit me. I’ve even been threatened with needles. All from parents and children who I am working to help.”  A social worker, and UNISON member, working in England.

UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, today warned that violence and abuse against social workers and people working in social care, has reached ‘chronic’ levels, with attacks and abuse becoming a regular occurrence. The union has launched a ten-point blueprint aimed at combating the abuse and attacks.

Helga Pile, UNISON national officer for social care, said:- “Sadly, being a social worker, or working in social care has become a high risk job. It cannot be right that staff who are working hard, often under difficult circumstances, to keep children and vulnerable adults safe, are coming under regular attacks and abuse. Threats and assaults lead to stress, ill-health, sickness absence, and high staff turnover. With serious skills shortages already hitting many social work departments, it makes sense to tackle this problem head-on.  Social workers and social care workers need to see action from the Government, to prove that keeping them safe is a priority. A vital first step is setting up a national register of attacks, so that incidents can be monitored and analysed.”

UNISON’s blueprint to combat abuse in social work and social care, is calling for:-

1. ADDITIONAL FUNDING FROM CENTRAL GOVERNMENT EQUIVALENT TO THE PROGRAMME FOR NHS WORKERS to invest in measures to protect staff, and provide safety equipment such as personal alarms.

2. RISK ASSESSMENT AND PREVENTION STRATEGIES: this should include more thorough risk assessments, and well-developed prevention strategies, such as redeployment of workers whilst incidents are investigated, and training. Staff should not have to use their own car for high-risk visits – number plates make it easy to trace people.

3. REPORT, RECORD, RESPOND, REVIEW: of all incidents and safety arrangements.

4. IMPROVEMENTS IN THE WAY INCIDENTS ARE DEALT WITH LOCALLY so that staff have good support after incidents, to build staff confidence to report incidents.

5. A NATIONAL SYSTEM OF MONITORING OF VIOLENT INCIDENTS for all local government staff, with national guidance on reporting categories, to enable trends to be identified and action triggered.

6. EASY ACCESS TO POST-INCIDENT SUPPORT AND COUNSELLING FOR AFFECTED STAFF, based on need, not rationed to sessions, possible redeployment, compensation for damaged property and practical support.

7. INCREASED INSPECTIONS BY THE ENFORCING AUTHORITIES to make sure employers are taking enough action to tackle the problem.

8. IMPROVEMENTS TO MANAGEMENT OF LONE WORKING should include stopping lone working on risky visits.

9. CLOSER RELATIONS BETWEEN POLICE /CPS AND EMPLOYERS, including local memoranda of understanding for how incidents against staff will be handled.

10. BETTER PROTOCOLS IN MENTAL HEALTH BETWEEN EMPLOYERS, POLICE AND AMBULANCE SERVICES to ensure adequate back-up and support for social workers who have to manage the compulsory admission to hospital of mental health patients.

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Local World Cup teaching initiative kicks off at JLA

Pupils and staff from St Benedict's College.

A set of teaching and learning materials for Key Stage 3 students based on the theme of the 2010 World Cup has been launched at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA).  This football themed initiative is the brainchild of former Merseyside Teacher Phil Freeman who believes the excitement that surrounds this year’s World Cup will create ideal learning opportunities for pupils.

6 books and interactive CDs have recently been published by Yorkshire based Cable Educational, each covering different areas of the curriculum including, English, Maths, Science, Food Technology, Geography and Performing Arts. The hope is that schools will use the materials as part of an end-of-term cross-curricular project during the tournament in June and July.

To celebrate the launch, students from nearby St Benedict’s College in Garston who have been piloting the initiative, attended the Airport to display some of their work, and give a short performance of music and dance from the specially written one-act musical, ‘Own Goal’ which tells the story of a young South African footballer, which is included in the Performing Arts pack.

Attendees to the launch were also able to sample African recipes taken from the Food Technology book, supplied by Jabula, a South African restaurant in Ellesmere Port – including crocodile.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility commitment, Liverpool John Lennon Airport works with local schools in a number of ways and was delighted to assist by hosting this event, particularly with links to South Africa now available from the Airport with KLM via Amsterdam.

Pupils and staff from St Benedict's College.

Phil Freeman commented:- “The World Cup is always of interest to a diverse cross section of pupils and offers a unique opportunity to link so many aspects of education with a global sporting event. As a former teacher I know how it can be difficult to motivate students towards the end of the Summer term, but these packs will give teachers and pupils something different to work on.”

Robin Tudor, Head of PR for Peel Airports added:- “South Africa and this year’s World Cup is of course a destination now served from the Airport so we liked the opportunity to help by hosting this launch here. This is a great initiative that looks like a fun way to learn and is bound to be a hit in such a football mad City.”

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