Big names team up to give social work a go

16th March 2015
A politician, a member of the royal family, a senior banker and a poet have spent time trying their hand at child protection social work as part of World Social Work Day (17 March). The charity Frontline organised the shadowing to help highlight the importance of social work. 

Former Home Secretary and author Alan Johnson, Princess Beatrice of Big Change, Credit Suisse’s Nick Wilcock and former gang-member-turned-poet Karl Lokko each visited local authorities in London to learn more about how social workers support some of society’s most vulnerable children and families.

  • Read our interview with Alan Johnson on his shadowing and previous experiences of social wok
  • Read here how senior banker Nick Wilcock’s shadowing experience impacted his views on social work
Frontline runs a pioneering two-year leadership programme bringing high potential graduates into social work with a mission to develop outstanding leaders in the field. Each ‘shadower’ spent time with Frontline participants as well as experienced social workers.
Frontline is positioning social work as a career of choice for top graduates, receiving 15 applications for every place with 128 starting the programme this summer. Frontline will grow by 50% in 2016 meaning expansion into a new region, and has secured cross-party support ahead of the general election.
Rt Hon. Alan Johnson MP:
“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to shadow social workers in the borough where I grew up. Like many others I recognise that children’s social work is one of the country’s toughest jobs – and just a day in the company of those so committed to supporting vulnerable children only reinforced the importance of social work.
“The work of charities like Frontline to raise the status, image and quality of social work are an essential part of improving one of Britain’s most important professions. There isn’t enough recognition of the life changing work social workers do so I’m delighted to help shine the spotlight on these remarkable professionals.”
Beatrice York, Trustee at Big Change:
“At Big Change we are committed to supporting high-impact social projects like Frontline. Today’s opportunity allowed me to see first-hand the incredible work that social workers are doing every day.”

Nick Wilcock, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Credit Suisse EMEA:
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to spend time with social workers in Tower Hamlets. The profession is a blind spot for many people and this was an extremely impactful experience. The home visit and one-to-one meetings that I witnessed taught me so much about the challenges of the job. I certainly encourage others in the city to undertake similar experiences and I am proud that the Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation is supporting Frontline.”

Karl Lokko, Big Changer:
“Experiencing challenging circumstances myself and seeing first hand members of my community going from agency to agency, I have witnessed the effect of great social work. I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time with social workers who work hard to support vulnerable children and families.”