Regional Emergency Social Work Service (RESWS)

About the Service

The regional out of hours social work service provides an emergency social work response across all of Northern Ireland on an out of hour’s basis:

  • 5pm to 9am weekdays
  • 24 hours at weekends and bank holidays.

Emergency Remit

This is an emergency service to be used only when you need a social worker urgently, after hours.
The RESWS will provide services for the following groups:

  • 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 service is also responsible for emergency homelessness for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) and emergency financial issues for the Social Security Agency outside normal working hours.


How to access the service  

Wherever you live in Northern Ireland, Out of Hours Social Workers can be contacted through one central telephone number:  

Tel: (028) 9504 9999

Please read the referral criteria below before contacting this service.

Professionals can also use this number or can complete written alerts on known cases and e-mail to: resws1@belfasttrust.hscni.net


Referral Criteria

Child Care Referral Criteria  

RESWS will accept referrals where:  

  • There are concerns that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer significant harm
  • There are concerns in relation to children who are Looked After by a health and social care Trust or their carers including foster carers 
  • There is suspected or confirmed abuse of a child.
  • In cases where there is a serious and imminent risk of family breakdown both in the community, foster care or kinship placements.
  • An appropriate adult is required for young people who are subject of a care order
  • There is a need for authorised professionals to make an enquiry to the Child Protection Register.

Mental Health and Learning Disability

RESWS will 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 undertake a joint assessment with the GP
  • Families and carers have serious and immediate concerns in relation to an adult’s safety
  • There are difficulties surrounding the care and safety of a person subject to Guardianship.

Older People / Physical Disability

RESWS will accept referrals where:

  • Informal care arrangements have broken down and it is essential that immediate action is taken to secure the health and well being of a service user
  • Extensive attempts by the Domiciliary Services to locate a service user have proved unsuccessful, and there is a necessity to liaise with PSNI regarding further action required
  • There are concerns about the safety of a vulnerable adult
  • Admission to Residential/Nursing Home is required.