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Working in social services

Working in social servicesWould you like a job helping people and giving something back to society? Read on to find out more about some of the careers in social services that make a real difference to people’s lives.

Social services are services provided by the government which help people in need and improve the quality of life in communities. Social services often work with other organisations like the NHS, charities and some private sector companies. Some social work jobs require a degree or other qualification in social work, but because social services covers such a wide range of things there’s almost certain to be something you can apply your skills and interests to. It’s not just frontline social work either, since all social services departments need people like accountants, IT staff and managers to make sure help gets where it’s needed. These are some of the main areas in which you could work:

Children and families

Social services provide support to families who are struggling to raise their children, and care for children whose parents are unable to look after them. Jobs might include a case worker who visits families to assess their needs, while a care worker helps with children who have been taken into care or have help people to adopt or become foster parents. There are also opportunities to work with vulnerable children in education, like being an educational psychologist or SEN (Special Educational Needs) worker helping young people with learning difficulties.

Vulnerable adults

As well as children, many adults need help looking after themselves. Social workers might work with the probation service to help people who have just been released from prison find a job, or support asylum seekers with their claims and to settle into British life. You could also be a counsellor or run a befriending scheme for isolated and lonely individuals. Social services also provide help for the elderly, like delivering meals on wheels to pensioners at home or running specialist nursing homes to care for elderly people’s physical and mental health


Most local authorities provide council housing, available to people and families on low incomes. They normally work alongside and supervise RSL (Registered Social Landlords), sometimes known as housing associations, who are trusts, companies and co-operatives that provide affordable housing to those in need. You could work in an office allocating housing, help families looking for the right home or do more practical things like maintaining and decorating council houses or finding furniture.


Lots of people need medical attention after they’ve been released from hospital, while others have a condition that makes life difficult for them. Occupational therapists provide support, therapy and advice to people with physical disabilities: modifying houses and other accommodation to make it wheelchair-friendly for example, or running exercise programmes to help people back into work. Meanwhile, psychologists might work with people with mental health problems in community care schemes, or provide counselling for people who are depressed or suffering other problems.

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