PUBLIC SECTOR: Social services to receive media image help-packs

Action is being taken to help councils improve the image of social workers.

Within weeks the Department of Health is to send out resource packs to all councils with social services. These will offer council PROs and social service teams media advice, including ways of better positioning stories to journalists and inviting members of the business community and media to job-shadow social work teams.

The resource pack is the latest initiative in the Government's three-year campaign to improve social services. Launched last year, the campaign aims to boost the number of recruits into social work and improve its public image.

Social work's reputation has been battered in recent years by a number of high profile cases, mostly child-care blunders. One of the most high-profile of these was the abuse and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in north London.

Lee Zimmer, consultant with agency Munro & Forster, which was brought in to handle PR for the campaign and devise the resource pack, said: 'We want to see councils be more proactive with their PR not just reactive.'

The launch of the resource pack will come just weeks after the Government's launch of the first league table of councils' social service departments.

From among 150 included, ten were given the bottom, no-star rating while just eight gained the top, three-star award, when the table was released last week.

Although gaining a one-star rating, Worcestershire County Council has been singled out by the DoH for its improvements in promoting social services.

Initiatives include the recruitment six months ago of its first social services marcoms officer.

Last week social care watchdog the General Social Care Council's PR chief Mark Oakes revealed the body is developing its own long-term strategy aimed at improving the image of social work (PR Week, 31 May).

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