My mother has been unwell so like many my age we find ourselves increasingly taking time out our normal routine to care for older parents. Whilst at my mother’s home I have been further subjected to the misfortune of “the soaps”.
My mother who is a huge fan of them is keen to catch up whilst I have only fairly recently bought a TV again after leaving home 9 years ago. Safe to say I don’t regret being without one for so long when I see the horror that is day time TV and the after day time comes night time and all its nightly soaps. Quickly I feel like I am being attacked by neglectful and lazy writing. There’s a cocktail of soaps leading up to in my view “the big three”.
Now Hollyoaks I grew out of (despite its catchy guitar riff), and the Aussies provide a nice bit of nostalgia for me and rover city always good for a laugh. But the big three Emmerdale, coronation Street and EastEnders.. they have a lot to answer for.. I don’t expect a bafta performance or even a TV quick award for their fleeting social worker appearances but it all just lacks accuracy and substance.. Unfortunately it would seem they have all Out done themselves this month in writing appalling “social services” plots.
Let’s start with EastEnders.
I heard about it before I saw the footage so not unlike the storylines we see I won’t go into a lot of detail… Essentially worker comes in, removes child, little compassion and lacks accuracy and from what I understand any legal context or justification. What disappointed me was that I remember a similar story line a few years ago with “Billy’s” young female relative and her child ( I think).
Then and now the response from the profession was the sound of frustration and disappointment. For this opportunity to be used as another panto villian child catcher in a half hour Melodrama
A character leaves baby in a&e. Medics are concerned but the family leave. Not unfamiliar scenario to those in a duty team perhaps. Then back home mum and gran talk when suddenly the phone on screen goes and I can tell instinctively as if it were the phone in my own living room.. that’s not expected and it will be the concerned GP or more likely… You guessed it “social services” planning a visit. Now we have yet to see the social worker but already the response from family who clearly would benefit from a little bit of early intervention… Is “put on a show” essential the dialogue was lie, fool and don’t let them take your children!! I couldn’t help but think it would give vulnerable young mothers the impression that’s what they should do it they ever had a call from “social services”. Stay tuned for the outcome… But probably not an outcomes assessment..
Finally coronation Street a mystery joint visit with friend and “social services”. More of a wooden and formulaic portrayal I have not seen. She wasn’t the panto visit granted but was very much the “do gooder”. She quickly offered a support worker and left with the friend who was not really a friend. The mother takes an overdose due to the stress of the visit and then very quickly the social worker does. Return visit with two police brandishing a court order getting in to a shouting match with the 16 yr old sibling deeming that the only option is to take them into care. Well slap my thigh here comes the panto villian just in time for christmas!
Now I don’t expect the break down of a parenting assessment to take place in the 27 mins on screen. There does not need to be a diagram of the assessment tool in the credits . However why the need to be caricatures. The medical staff, legal professionals and police don’t seem to be portrayed quite so deliberately badly. It all just seems to repeat like a bad sunday soap omnibus!
I may have missed it but given we looked at three distinct upsetting story lines of child harm, substance misuse and what seems to be post natal depression.. there were no helplines and nothing that would say to any young person or parent that it’s ok to seem advice or support. But after watching this why would they want to initiate such a call!?
I don’t really know what else we can do as individuals and professionals other than make ourselves vocal.
Be vocal in your living room like I have so my mother knows that’s not what I do. And maybe she will tell her friends and their friends will tell their family.
Take to social media so your friends know that you don’t condone that portrayal of the profession.
Get in touch with any agency you think might listen so that the public hear and see we don’t want people to fear the words “social services” or “social worker”!