This is the Work

This is social work

Social work is work that changes lives.

Social workers work with people of all ages, at times in their life when they need support, care and protection. These people are often experiencing distress, trauma, loss, and abuse. Sometimes their need stems from disability, mental illness or old age. External factors such as poverty and discrimination intensify these challenges. By building trusting relationships, and working alongside these people, social workers can help them make positive changes in their lives.

It’s work that shapes a person.

Frontline’s mission is to create social change for children and families, by developing excellent social work practice and leadership. Each year, our nation’s social workers support hundreds of thousands of children who do not have a safe and stable home, and make a real difference to their lives, and to those of their families. We want to showcase just how significant this work is. The exceptionally high levels of skill social work takes, and the difference social workers make to people’s lives, that often go unseen.

It’s work that makes a difference.

But, to ensure that children’s social workers can provide the best support possible for children and families, we need to bring more people into social work, who represent the diverse families they work with. People like you.

Our new film, voiced by rapper and songwriter, Professor Green, shows the real potential social workers have to change the trajectory of a child’s life.


Why we need to make a change in children’s social work

Social workers in England support over 680,000 children and their families every year. At any given time there are around 400,000 Children in Need

6% of care leavers between the ages of 19-21 go to university compared to 43% of all young people

Only 14% of social workers identify as men, compared with 54% of Children in Need

There are 50,000 children in England who have a child protection plan, with neglect being the main concern for almost half of these

56% of children sentenced in the youth justice system had a social worker.

23% of social workers are minority ethnic, compared with 29% of Children in Need

Sources: Department for Education, 2018 and 2021; Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board, 2020.

Children in Need are a legally defined group of children, assessed as needing help and protection as a result of risks to their development or health. This group includes children subject to Child in Need Plans, Child Protection plans, Looked After Children, young carers, and disabled children. Children in need include young people aged 18 or over who continue to receive care, accommodation or support from children’s services and unborn children.

Is social work for me?

Social work is a highly-skilled career that needs the right people to create lasting social change. This all starts with people like you. If you want to have a positive impact on people’s lives every day, but you’ve never considered a career in social work before, you could be missing out on your ideal career. If you are committed to making a difference, great at working with people and have excellent judgement, this is the work for you.

Real social work.

Social work is a hugely rewarding and varied career. There’s potential for real development, personal and professional growth, and the opportunity to become a vital member of your community.

As a children’s social worker, your day could include playing football with a young person to help them open up, giving evidence in court, or visiting a child in school where there has been a disclosure of abuse.

While your work will make a big difference, being a social worker is not without its challenges. You’ll experience some distressing situations, see families at their lowest points, and be involved in making some tough decisions that will impact the lives of children and their families. You’ll be working with complexity and navigating risk, all while trying to build trust and supportive relationships.

While some days will undoubtedly be demanding, your work will be underpinned by the knowledge that you are empowering people to help themselves and doing your best work to create positive change and improve the lives of children and families. This is the Work – this is social work.

How to get into social work

There are many routes into social work, each suited to different people at different stages of their lives. Ours, the Frontline programme, is a two-year, salaried training programme that offers you a unique opportunity to work directly with children and families, helping them make positive changes in their lives. The people we train work in some of the toughest environments but do some of the most impactful work, helping to secure safe and stable homes for children in England.

Other programmes include Step Up to Social Work, a 14-month programme of study at a university and hands-on social work placements, and Think Ahead, a two-year programme focussed on mental health social work that combines a master’s degree with on-the-job training.

You can also choose to do an undergraduate degree in social work or a master’s degree if you already have an undergraduate degree. And if you don’t feel university is right for you, a social work apprenticeship offers three years of on-the-job training, leading to a social work degree.

Frontline programme participants’ stories

  • Jill Sinaguglia had some time to reflect on her career during the pandemic, and decided to apply for the Frontline programme. She shares her reasons for pursuing social work, and her positive experience of the Frontline programme so far.
  • "The Frontline programme appealed to me as I was very attracted by the idea of practice learning. I was keen to work directly with children and families as soon as possible. I was also really interested by the unit model, and the concept of sharing ideas and hypotheses within a small, close-knit team."
  • Two Frontline programme participants, Sally and Jacob, worked hard alongside parents-to-be, Lacey and Lee, to ensure that baby Logan would be able to remain safely in the parents’ care once born, but with intensive support from professionals.
  • Tommy Gale talks about his journey to becoming a social worker and the Frontline programme.