PUBLIC SECTOR: Social work watchdog set to reveal head of comms

The newly created watchdog to monitor and regulate social work is

set to appoint its first head of communications.

The General Social Care Council, which came into being this week, will

draw up the sector's first national code of conduct.

PR in the interim has been led by PRO Lorna Shearman, who was appointed

in the summer and will report to the head of communications.

One of that person's early tasks will be to drive through a PR campaign

to improve the public image of the profession.

Shearman said: 'The reputation of social workers is at rock bottom. The

council has an important task in reinstating public confidence in the

profession. We aim to champion social workers and to be there to ensure

best practice is maintained through the code of conduct.'

The GSCC is also on the hunt for a media relations officer to fill

another gap in its initial five-strong PR team. This includes two

information officers who are already in post.

Last week the GSCC brought forward planned media relations work to

coincide with the opening of a public inquiry, chaired by Lord Laming,

into the death of Haringey child abuse victim Victoria Climbie.

Freelance PR consultant Bonnie Sands was brought in to assist Shearman

in gaining coverage of the GSCC in media reports about the inquiry.

The inquiry was told of failures by health workers, police and care

workers - including social services teams at Haringey and other London

boroughs Ealing and Brent - for failing to avert the abuse and death of

the eight-year-old. She was murdered after suffering horrific and

sustained non-accidental injuries at the hands of her great aunt Marie

Therese Kouao and Kouao's lover, Carl Manning.

The GSCC, headed by CEO Lynne Berry, was set up following the Care

Standards Act 2000, which also launched the National Care Standards

Commission in April this year to monitor care homes.

The code of conduct is expected to be drawn up next year, following a

consultation period.

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