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Social care students in the West Midlands now urged to step up and join fight against Covid-19 outbreak

Council care directors in the West Midlands have widened their call for people with some experience and training in social work or care to join up urgently to help deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Councils working hard to support vulnerable people during the outbreak say that staffing problems and increasing demand are putting a huge strain on services for those most in need.

Current figures show that of the 10,000 staff employed by local authorities in the West Midlands to support older and vulnerable adults, 1 in 5 are away from work because they are sick themselves or self-isolating.

Last week West Midlands councils launched a campaign to attract former social workers back to work. Now they are asking final year social work students in the region to “step up and get involved.”

The students will be asked to do everything from supporting qualified Social Workers and connecting people within the community, to carrying our care roles to support people with everyday tasks that they now struggle to do without some help.

The campaign has been created by the improvement body West Midlands Employers (WME) and the regional branch of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (WMADASS) and reflects and supports similar campaigns nationally and in the NHS.

It has been endorsed by the 14 councils in the West Midlands region, which are responsible for providing advice, support and direct care to adults with disabilities and older people with physical or mental health needs, many of whom have been hit hard by the lockdown or by illness.

At the heart of the project will be a central website on which potential returners and social work students with the right experience or studies can be fast tracked into work as employees or volunteers.

Through the website the 14 councils will be able to match with a pool of candidates and get people on the front line or supporting the front line within days.

The site for students is located at https://stepupnow.org.uk/.

In Adult Social Care in the West Midlands the pressures are immense. The people we serve need our care more than ever before. To keep our social workers on the frontline we need people with skills and commitment to help them behind the scenes.

“It is your time to step up.”

Marc Greenwood, Head of Business Systems and Continuous Improvement, Coventry City Council said: “The Covid-19 outbreak is increasing the pressure on an already challenged adult social care workforce. However, these challenges present opportunities to adapt as a workforce and embrace new and creative ways of working.

“With this comes the opportunity to encourage the next generation of our workforce to join us now to meet the current challenge and work with us to help the city recover in the wake of the pandemic.”

Professor Robin Miller, Head of Department of Social Work & Social Care, University of Birmingham said: ‘Frontline social care staff and social workers are at the heart of supporting vulnerable people and communities to respond to the challenges of this pandemic.

“This campaign will enable students with social care experience and aspirations to contribute to this vital effort and is endorsed by Universities in the West Midlands and the West Midland Social Work Teaching Partnership.”

"Councils have worked together to fast-track the approach to recruiting, reflecting the urgency of the current situation," says Rebecca Davis Chief Executive of West Midlands Employers. She added:

“These students will be the social care workforce of the future so we want to give them the chance to support the community now whilst giving them hands-on experience and learning too.”

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