Regional Emergency Social Work Service

What the service does
How to access the service
Referral criteria


What the service does

The Regional Emergency Social Work Service (RESWS) covers all of Northern Ireland. It provides social workers at the following times:

  • between 5pm and 9am, Monday to Friday
  • weekends (24 hours)
  • public and bank holidays (24 hours)

Please note this is an emergency service that should only be used when you need a social worker urgently.

The Regional Emergency Social Work Service helps the following people:

  • children and young people
  • older people
  • people with mental health problems
  • people with learning difficulties
  • people with physical disabilities
  • families and carers of all these groups

The Regional Emergency Social Work Service also works with:

  • the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to address emergency homelessness
  • the Social Security Agency on emergency financial issues

How to access the service

The contact number for the Regional Emergency Social Work Service is: (028) 9504 9999

Healthcare professionals can also use this number or email alerts to: resws1@belfasttrust.hscni.net

Referral criteria


  • Children

    We accept referrals where:

    • there are concerns that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm
    • there are concerns about a child who is ‘looked after’ by a Trust or carers, including foster carers
    • there is suspected or confirmed child abuse
    • there is a serious and imminent risk of family breakdown, including foster families and kinship placements
    • an appropriate adult is required for a child who is the subject of a care order
    • an authorised professional needs to make an enquiry to the Child Protection Register
  • People with a mental health condition and/or learning disability

    We accept referrals where:

    • compulsory admission to hospital under the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 is required – the Regional Emergency Social Work Service will provide an approved social worker to carry out a joint assessment with the GP
    • families and carers have serious and immediate concerns about an adult’s safety
    • there are difficulties around the care and safety of a person subject to guardianship
  • Older people and those with a physical disability

    We accept referrals where:

    • informal care arrangements have broken down and immediate action must be taken to secure the health and wellbeing of a person
    • domiciliary services have been unable to locate a person and we need to work with the PSNI on further action
    • there are concerns about the safety of a vulnerable adult
    • admission to a residential or nursing home is required

Services