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“Describe and evaluate the changing nature of the social work role & discuss different services found therein and how they benefit service users” This essay is written to try and established what is actually involved in the role of the social worker and to give a clear understanding of the strains and pressures and how a social workers role has evolved. To enlist the numerous Acts involved with this job and the services involved supporting this role.

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What is now known as Social Work or Social Care evolved as an answer to poverty and unemployment. In the nineteenth century the industrial towns had became horrific for large numbers of people, poverty and unemployment was high. The negative response from the higher class society believed that lower class individuals brought it upon their selves; they were regarded with laziness and degradation, in the wish to drink alcohol and gamble their money away. Due to this fact, it was felt that any attempt to provide help would only increase the problems and enforce bad habits within Society. However, the nineteenth century brought in new beginnings of different types of social work and made it a clear factor that much of the poverty was brought about through social and economic factors beyond people’s control.

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Different initiatives formed to fight against poverty and the problems that arose from it. Workers themselves pulled together mutual aid in friendly societies and later on this became trade unions to help increase better working conditions and provide basic types of health and welfare benefits. More effluent people began Philanthropic charitable organisations they believed would decrease the largest problems for the poor.

In 1869, the Charity Organisation Society (COS) came into force to provide help and support for poverty and unemployment and to create some kind of order for the already formed Philanthropic charities. The COS took a strong ethical approach to this and set out to differentiate between those who really needed empathy through no fault of their own and those who were poor through self infliction. COS then began to work with individual families to improve their situations. For COS to be able to differentiate between those that deserved empathy and those that didn’t, they began to visit the families at their homes in their own environments, and enquiring into great detail on how they led their lives and their problems surrounding them; this later became known as the social casework. Today this approach is still used but the Victorian morals have altered increasingly.

In today’s society, social work would be described as congruous, an established path to the social difficulties of individuals, with an ability to support them to alter and change their situation and support and better themselves within society. In the early part of the twentieth century it was believed that there should of been some sort of state provision of social work for the more desperate individuals in society; ideally to be provided by the local authorities. In the 1920’s the establishment of services for physically and mentally disabled people came into force.

However, these actions have only limited connections with modern social work, and the start of modern social work can be traced back to 1948. By 1948, three different types of social services had developed Children’s Departments. The Curtis Report advised in 1946 that departments were incorporated within local authorities, giving them sole responsibility for children’s homes, fostering, childcare, adoption and family casework.

Progressively the children’s departments’ authoritativeness expanded and by 1952 was given the authority to examine closely, cases of abuse; by 1963 the authorities were given enough power to enable prevention of abuse cases. The Health Services then conformed to local authorities to provide additional services relating to social problems, these consisted of occupational therapy and health visiting but also provided additional employment positions such as hospital social workers and mental welfare officers. Welfare departments were then incorporated to cover a variety of responsibilities and accountable for activities that the other two departments omitted. This consisted of services for disabled people, residential care for the elderly and assistance for the homeless. Their authoritativeness expanded even more to be able to provide recreational facilities, a range of social services including day centres and meals.

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Kylie Garcia

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