At a meeting yesterday we heard a presentation about the impact of welfare reform. The presenter, a housing officer, explained some of the issues and challenges facing families as well as some of the successes. In this presentation one comment stood out - speaking of the client group in question the officer remarked that:
"...they all have a fear of social services."
These very poor families often with huge challenges are utterly terrified of social services and the social worker because they believe that they'll take the children away. These are families where the only 'abuse' is not having enough money and the problems going along with that condition - malnourishment, ill-health, cold and so forth.
The families are happy to deal with the housing association, with outreach workers from Job Centre Plus, with any number of voluntary organisation but suggest social services and they will run a mile.
It may well be that council social services departments have real problem, one they perhaps don't fully appreciate. How do you support a family that lives in fear of you and what you might do? That considers you to be just a child snatcher?