The Emotional Impact of Care

No-one wants to imagine a time in their life when a loved one needs real care. We don’t like to think of what it would be like if a person we know and care for, needs professional help. However, care is a part of so many people’s lives and can bring support to more than just their service user.

Communicating with Children

How often do you change your tone of voice or find yourself adjusting your vocabulary when communicating with children? One of the earliest forms of communication for children is the ability to pick up on cues given by adults. Some of these are nonverbal cues, such as a smile, touch, furrowed brow, etc. Others are verbal, and come from reading subtle changes during an interaction, such as inflection and tone of voice. Tone of voice is very important in human interaction, as it tells us more about the topic of conversation than just the words. However, communication is not just about the words you use, but also your manner of speaking, body language and, above all, the effectiveness with which you listen. To communicate effectively it is important to take account of culture and context, for example where English is an additional language.

Good communication is central to working with children, young people, their families and carers. It involves listening, questioning, understanding and responding to what is being communicated by children, young people and those caring for them. To build a rapport with children, young people and those caring for them, it is important to demonstrate understanding, respect and honesty. Continuity in relationships promotes engagement and the improvement of lives.

The importance of listening to children

Children experience a range of problems and worries at home, at school, with their friends and in the community. Some children may talk in a way that ‘normalises’ abuse and neglect because that’s what they have experienced as normal. Alternatively, they may avoid discussing these topics because they are painful to acknowledge or because they’re concerned about the consequences of telling.

With that being said, it is vital that professionals and carers pay attention not only to what the child says, but also to what they are not saying. They also need to pay attention to how the child behaves. Listening to the child’s views will help social workers and others to build a trusting relationship with the child.

The importance of relationships

Looked after children and young people are vulnerable individuals. The experiences that led to placement, including mistreatment or neglect, will have resulted in separation from their birth family which, even if unsafe, was the home they knew. Developing trusting relationships is important for these children to help them build security through attachments. Continuity of relationships is key to helping children construct their identity and develop a strong sense of belonging.

A consistent message is that children value relationships with people who:

  • are always there for them
  • love, accept and respect them for who they are
  • are ambitious for them and help them succeed
  • are willing to go the extra mile, and
  • treat them as part of their family, or part of their life, beyond childhood and into adulthood.

What skills do you need to communicate effectively with children and young people?

In order to communicate effectively with children, social workers need to be confident and have a range of skills. These include:

  • active listening
  • empathising with the child’s point of view
  • developing trusting relationships
  • understanding non-verbal communication
  • building rapport
  • explaining, summarising and providing information
  • giving feedback in a clear way
  • understanding and explaining the boundaries of confidentiality


Check out our Children Services resources out here.

In summary, spend some time reflecting on the words you use when communicating with children. Build a rapport, develop a trusting relationship and use language that the child will understand, but above all – listen.

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Child Protection: Moving Forward in Modern Social Work

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One Stop Social is unashamedly passionate about social work, and therefore, we’re driven by an enthusiasm to show the rest of the world just how brilliant social work is. While we don’t look at the sector through rose tinted glasses, we know there are some fantastic examples of good practice and innovation across the country. Nevertheless, areas of social work like child protection make the headlines on a regular basis for less than positive reasons.

The press is filled with child abuse scandals, stories about neglected young people or examples of councils stretched too thin; but are these just the cases which catch the media’s eye? Sensationalised stories sell papers, so is it just that the countless admirable practitioners and examples of good practice are ignored in favour of the few cases that will make a catchy headline. On the other hand, do a limited number of cases imply that the whole system is in need of change? Are the issues with the current child protection really so serious that we should consider reform?

When you look at the key factors which can cause issues with child protection teams, there isn’t a need for revolution or a complete overhaul of the system. The foundations are not broken; however, they’re not being given the trust and support they need to thrive. We’d like to take a chance to examine some of these elements and make the case against reform, and in favour of implementing the correct structures to support social work in the UK.

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Fragmented approach

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Child protection is about ensuring the safety of at risk and vulnerable children across the UK. Each of the UK’s 4 nations have their own child protection system, as a result they utilise different techniques and laws to help protect children from abuse and neglect. But is this separation of powers and styles contributing to a fragmented system? We see on a regular basis how gangs utilise county lines to exploit young people, partly facilitated by a lack of communication and collaboration between different local authorities; so, is the same happening across nations? The UK is built on the idea of partnership between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; but if we’re not upholding this ethos across child protection services, then it could be easy for children to be missed.

In order to allow child protection to truly succeed, it’s essential that we recognise that we need to work together. Political differences, historical grudges or individuality should have no place in child protection. It’s about looking after a child deemed to be at risk or in need. So perhaps we need to train each other in the different approaches and systems, so that there is a universal understanding of how to safeguard those who are vulnerable. There should also be a policy of openness with regards to sharing information about vulnerable service users who could benefit from the support from teams in different regions and nations. Let’s trust in each other more and recognise the strength in working as 1 overall team for child protection.

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Financial troubles

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While many areas of social work don’t require super-high-tech systems or the latest gadgets which put a strain on budgets, councils do need sufficient money to maintain social care avenues and to fund enough practitioners to effectively cover an area. However, councils across the UK are regularly commenting on the issues they face due to the lack of funding. The government has been recently criticised for having an “appalling” level of ignorance about the pressure child protection teams find themselves under – a large part of which is due to council budgets being cut 30% since 2010. Even when funding is announced, as it was in the latest Budget, there’s immense scepticism that the promise will be followed through, which impacts a council’s confidence to invest. So, we need to ensure that councils have the resources they need to succeed; and if the central government can’t guarantee it, a stable alternative should be developed. We’re seeing a rise of teaching partnerships across the country, like the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy, so is the future of social work pooling resources together? Yes, a more collaborative approach would definitely promote better outcomes for those deemed in need and we are seeing greater emphasis on supporting practitioner development.

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Increasing Demand

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Research over the past few years have shown us that the demand for child protection services is on the rise exponentially. Technology has made it easier for predators to exploit children from behind a screen. High rates of drug and alcohol abuse makes families more volatile, leaving more children needing to be taken into care. Insufficient support for those with mental health issues and the lack of protection for domestic abuse victims leaves thousands of children in need of safeguarding. However, what doesn’t make the headlines as regularly, is that the number of social workers is also on the rise too. With the correct funding to councils, training opportunities and practitioner support, we can band together to meet every challenge. One Stop Social are keen to aid councils where we can, which is why we’re developing high-quality, cost-effective training workshops which can be implemented nationally.

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Recruitment & Retention Issues

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Across almost every council in the UK there is an issue with recruitment and retention – leaving front-line services with insufficient practitioners for their caseloads. Social workers can pick and choose where they work due to the vast demand; making it harder for councils to retain staff. This regular turnover affects dynamics and gives inconsistency to child protection teams. Councils need to recognise that by making it more desirable to stay in a role, social workers can develop their skills more effectively and overall protect more vulnerable children. Leadership training and clear progression routes are important, but a key element is building a sense of enjoyment by being in a particular role. We offer corporate licences of our OSS Membership to help councils develop retention packages, and demonstrate that they’re willing to reward their teams as both practitioners and people. Employee engagement drives enthusiasm for a role and efficiency: the key to success is making professionals happier.

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It’s not a “crisis”

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Given that there are so many facets of child protection that need work, it can feel like we’re on the edge of the cliff, about to fall into chaos. And until we can be secure in the knowledge that every child is in a safe, healthy environment, we’ll always need to look for changes and improvements.  However, on a national scale, the core foundation of child protection in the UK is sound. It’s on a local level that we need to build on it. Child protection should not be a postcode lottery system. We need to ensure councils everywhere can give practitioners the correct reimbursement, employment structures and rewards packages. By working on a local level, we can give child protection as a whole the room it needs to thrive.


That Wrinkles My Haltung

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”I’m hoping the heading has grabbed your attention?” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]What’s my haltung?  Why does it get wrinkled?  What’s the difference when your haltung is nourished and why we all need to recognise our own haltung?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This blog aims to share my learning from my MA Social Pedagogy Leadership and for me, learning about haltung sticks out as the absolute lightbulb moment when everything made sense, in work, in life, how I behave and how I am supported.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”So rewinding a little bit, let’s start by introducing social pedagogy” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]“Social pedagogy describes a holistic and relationship-centred way of working in care and educational settings with people across the course of their lives…it has a long-standing tradition as a field of practice and academic discipline concerned with addressing social inequality and facilitating social change by nurturing learning, well-being and connection both at an individual and community level.” Gardner 2018[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”It’s not what we do, it’s the way that we do it” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]For me, ‘social pedagogy’ is the ‘how’ of social work.  Social work in its broadest sense is the ‘what we do’ to support people, a whole range of services including, amongst others, children’s services, residential care and home care.

Social Pedagogy is ‘how’ we do this; enable people to have what matters to them in their life, provide great support, build relationships and support people to be part of their communities.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”For more info check out Ali Gardner’s blog” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Or have a look at my short introductory video” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Social Pedagogy is primarily concerned with well-being, learning and growth and seeks to recognise and promote individual potential.  It is underpinned by the concept of ‘Haltung’, a German phrase roughly translating as ‘mindset’ or ‘attitude’.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Haltung is about how we guide our actions by what we believe in and how our values cause us to respond in a certain way.  Haltung is fundamental to social pedagogy because it demonstrates the importance of the professional being authentic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]According to Gabriel Eichsteller (Thempra) your haltung is not like a coat which you can take off at the end of your working day but rather your ‘skin’ that makes you who you are.

For me haltung is reflected in values; the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization, the guiding principles which determine behaviour.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Research shows that people who are consciously connected with their priority values are better equipped to lead with authenticity and suffer less from stress than people who are unaware of their personal priority values (Le Fevre 2018).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I first learnt about values doing a future leaders course with Wellbeing Teams, facilitated by Helen Sanderson and Emily McArdle, with contribution from Jackie Le Fevre, who passionately shared about the importance of values.  According to Jackie, values are “big, emotionally rich ideas that help us make sense of the world and our place in that world.  Our values lie behind our choices and our behaviours. Our values shape how we feel about, respond and rise to both our daily life and our ultimate grand plan.” (2018)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Completing my values profile and recognising the link with my haltung was a light bulb moment.   Emily, my critical friend, supports me to think bigger and deeper and asked “are there times when your values cause you to act in ways that aren’t helpful?.”  My initial response was, of course not!  But then I reflected a bit more…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My top value of belonging is described as “having a place or sense of home. To be devoted to people you consider family and to experience belonging and acceptance.”   My need to have a sense of belonging is at my very core, whether at home, with family, with those I’m close to and in work.  Remember haltung is a skin not a jacket and you can’t remove it, it’s who you are.  If I have a sense of belonging, I feel connected, joyful and productive.  It’s the feeling of being valued, of being part of something bigger.  When I don’t have a sense of belonging I sulk, feel left out and withdraw.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Having no sense of belonging wrinkles my haltung.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The lightbulb moment learning about values and haltung helped me to understand why I behave in this way.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]According to Brent at al (2017) “the ability to align our personal values and tap into our own intrinsic motivators is a wonderful privilege.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Haltung and values are weaved like a golden thread through all aspects of Community Circles and Wellbeing Teams and underpin all we do; building authentic relationships, taking responsibility through the principles of self management, enabling people supported and team members to flourish, being creative and curious to deliver compassionate care and support.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I am in a wonderful position of working in a space of psychological safety, that space “where team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other” Rosovsky (2015) where I can bring my whole self to work and ask for what I need.  It’s also great when you’re asked, “how can we nourish your value of belonging?”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My values now have a more prominent space on my one page profile, people around me know what nourishes and what wrinkles my haltung and this gives me a greater sense of purpose and wellbeing.  I’m conscious to reflect with colleagues about their haltung and how we can do more of the things that reflect our values.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Connection with values and recognising your haltung can increase innovation, productivity, trust, confidence and courage while reducing the harmful effects of stress and fear.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Find out what nourishes your haltung.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”50px”][vc_column_text]

Contributed by Cath Barton, Community Circles

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We believe in giving something back to the social work community. To this end we are working with a number of like-minded organisations to provide you with the tools to develop good practice across the UK. Most importantly, we believe that everyone’s voice matters. By joining OSS Membership, you’ll be actively involved in the development of our collective and you’ll be able to champion the causes that are important to you. 

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A Cover is Not the Book: Reviewing Prejudices in Social Work

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]No matter how we try, there are prejudices everywhere. Our minds immediately assume someone with glasses looks intelligent, tattoos imply a rebellious nature and millennials are ‘snowflakes’. While some have an inherent predisposition towards making assumptions and discriminating against demographics, this isn’t the case for everyone. For many, these prejudices are unconscious connections made in the mind, a consequence of societal pre-conceptions that are spread by historical stereotypes and the media. However, we were all taught as children, don’t judge a book by its cover. So, what happened to this ideal? Why is it that in social work we see so many prejudices about different groups in society? There are 3 key areas where practitioners will notice a level of prejudice from those external to the sector, which are important to be aware of. By understanding how the non-social work community perceive these groups of people, we can all work together to reframe the narrative and showcase the truth of our sector.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The Homeless ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082596861{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]This is possibly the stereotype that will raise the most eyebrows with readers. There’s an assumption that everyone who is homeless is a substance addict, with potentially violent tendencies and should be approached with caution. Their personalities are put into the tidy box of “hobo”, a rough character who you’re not 100% safe around. We’re hesitant to give beggars some loose change because we always think they’ll spend it on alcohol or drugs instead of food or the chance to get shelter. There are countless prejudices in our heads about those who are rough sleeping. But is that entirely fair?[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Now, it can’t be denied that many people who end up homeless do have an issue with addiction, which has usually contributed to their state and will prevent them finding a stable living situation. However, we should be careful not to tar everyone with the same brush, as lots of people end up sleeping rough due to a range of completely different circumstances and are actively trying to turn their lives around.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]More importantly, these prejudices about the people on the streets have a much bigger impact. As The Guardian commented in 2015, they are “treated like illegally parked cars”. Our assumptions influence how we support the homeless, which in turn makes the cycle of homelessness much harder to break. No matter what circumstances have led to someone having to live on the streets, our compassion as a society should never be lost. And it feels like currently, we’re letting our ability to sympathise, care and support be undermined by these notions of what homeless people *might* be like.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Care Leavers ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082650184{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Care leavers have historically faced a struggle overcoming the “care” label, because it became associated with troubled people or a personal trauma. And while yes, some children enter care in tumultuous circumstances, there is no 1 blueprint for why a child will require care or how they will develop as they grow up. Care leavers are expected to fail, or at least not make very much of their lives, because they had an upbringing that differed from the norm. Why should it matter though? We all have individual and unique experiences, so why is one element so important about determining someone’s impression of you? Every human being is a complex mixture of their experiences, their passions, their ambitions and so much more. And growing up in care, or spending some time there during your life, is only one small piece of the puzzle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“You’re expected to fail before you get a chance. People pity you. They assume that care leavers are going to do worse because they’ve looked at the statistics.” – Kelly, Project Positive. ” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:20|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555083715775{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]By allowing these stereotypes and prejudices to continue, we’re creating an almost self-fulfilling prophecy. Society doesn’t expect much of care leavers, so they’re conditioned to think they can’t achieve much, which means they don’t. Thereby ‘proving’ the stereotype. We need to break the cycle, and this can be done so easily. Ensure growing up in care is only a part of the conversation if the child or young person wants it to be. Set standards across higher education and employment to protect care leavers from discrimination. Most importantly, shine a spotlight on the reality of all that care leavers can achieve. Every young person has the potential to change the world, so let’s show the world just what care leavers can contribute.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Social Workers Themselves” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1555082807279{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]This one is no secret. We have all faced the prejudice that anyone in social work is a certain type of person. Think elbow patches on tweed jackets. Or some villainous creature like the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Social workers are perceived as bland people who steal babies from the families in the middle of the night, when we know that our work is so much more complex. Social work is about understanding a situation, protecting the vulnerable and facilitating change where needed. If there was ever any job role that is driven by good intentions, it’s social work.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]And yet, when you ask a stranger to think of a social worker, they picture the extreme caricature practitioner portrayed in TV shows or films. The alternative is sometimes just as difficult: they simply have nothing to say. So many people have only one of two assumptions about social workers – either society’s villains or completely overlooked. Good practice is developed with support from within the social work community, but those outside of our sector have a role to play too. If this negative prejudice against those in this profession could be torn down, it would make a social workers job easier and would allow us to showcase how beneficial social worker intervention can be.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”custom” style=”dotted” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_column_text]A lot of our work in social work is based around knowledge, theories and facts; but has that left us susceptible to adult cynicism, scepticism and prejudice? Children are not born with prejudices, it’s something they are either taught or shown by society. Therefore, if this stereotyping is not a natural part of our DNA, it should surely be something we can ‘un-learn’. Let’s take a leaf out of the children’s handbook and view people for exactly who they are, and not for some preconceived. So, I leave you today with 1 final piece of advice from the recent Mary Poppins film, where super-nanny Mary herself (with the help of some dancing penguins) encouraged children that “the cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look!”. I think it’s about time we teach others to see past the cover in so many areas of social work and learn to see people for who they really are, what their experiences are and what they can offer a situation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1555082963241{padding-top: px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1555083191811{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

If you’re working with any level of prejudice within social work, whether it’s towards your service user or yourself, there are resources available which can help implement positive practices and structures for all involved. 

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Care leavers’/young people’s views on their lives – questionnaires” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Positive Social Work: The Essential Toolkit for NQSWs” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Emotional Resilience Toolkit” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

All Fired Up

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.“ William Butler Yeats” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554825158334{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]Are you looking for something to re-light the embers of your passion in social care? Then read on about my first encounter with social pedagogy at the Fire Starter Event, and my subsequent voyage into the MA social pedagogy course at UCLan.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4779″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Fire Starter event day began with presentations of social pedagogy in other countries. There were smaller country groups so we could ask questions and find out more. I was fascinated and intrigued. In the University courtyard we used sparklers to share our own fire with the group.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Fire Starter Event” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]I returned in the evening to share supper and chat to some remarkable people. To add to the enjoyment a local samba band had been asked to play. I could feel the sound of the drums, it made my heart beat quicker. The band got louder and faster. It was brilliant, the music made a carnival in my mind. After several pieces of music, we were offered the chance to join in and play a drum. Lots of people rushed to have a go. I hung back afraid to join in, until somebody shouted, “come on this is really pedagogical”.

Oh no this was awkward. I felt I had to have a go otherwise I would be the odd one out and look stupid. It didn’t feel comfortable though.  I had told people at work that I was going to an event to find out more about social pedagogy, how can I tell them how educational the day had been when I am on video playing a very large samba drum! But I loved it!!!!!![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4780″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Haltung” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554827959576{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]I am now coming to the end of my first year feeling like a different person! I have come to realise that my spirit and tenacity, which has often got me into trouble, sometimes resulting in quarrels and conflicts with people, comes from my Haltung. Loosely translated into English, Haltung means ethos, values and mindset. Our Haltung drives the way we think and motivates our actions. Haltung is essential in social pedagogy as it demonstrates authenticity.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Eichsteller explains this here” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text]My Haltung has led me to a career path in social care, which although I love, drives me to distraction most days because of the poor support we offer people and the outrageous way that social care staff are undervalued and dehumanised by the officialdom of the day. Hence why I became inquisitive but cautious about social pedagogy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Social Pedagogy” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554826208263{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Karl Mager coined the phrase social pedagogy in 1844. He was a German educator and collated ideas from many disciplines including sociology, philosophy and psychology. Social Pedagogy is a value-based approach used in social care. It offers creative theories and methods to develop the potential of human beings. It is a holistic, ethical methodology which is constantly curious about the world. Social pedagogy has deep roots in many European countries but relatively new to the UK. Social pedagogues admire the richness in people and endorses their potential while promoting human equality and inclusion. Social pedagogues understand that a person is the product of their interaction with their cultural and social environment, this is where they develop their behaviours and attitudes to life. It is a relational concept and is underpinned by many tools and models. Learning about the common third model helped me to appreciate why the energiser activities we did at the Fire Starter Event were crucial in developing my skills and building the strong connections with others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”The Common Third – a relationship-based approach” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554826261176{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]It is commonly recognised that relationships and experiences are more important than the outcome. Sharing activities generates a positive and authentic relationship, which is essential for human development. Januscz Korczak spoke about the ‘unseen’ potential in everyone. The Common Third process can create the right conditions for relationships to flourish. The ‘Third’ is a shared activity that is external to a problem or issue. The focus is on the task rather than on each other. The diagram shows the relationship between a worker and a child sharing an activity that puts them on an equal footing. This model could be transferred to any relational situation. The ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in meaningful activity promotes identity and self-esteem.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4781″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I hadn’t realised how reserved I had been and how much I had held back, not exhibiting my true self, and that is why I initially found the activities so hard to do. They made me feel very vulnerable and exposed but weirdly also gave me the most pleasure too and where I have gained most learning, even though it has taken some time to work that out. I didn’t know I had a Haltung but now I have I’m pretty proud of mine. This is now a common word in my vocabulary. I can visualise using The Common Third approach at work to reverse the power dynamics often found in social care. The safe space at university was essential for me to achieve this transformation and now I recognise this, I want the people that I work with to feel safe too, to share their anxieties and be open and honest without the fear of feeling foolish. I want them to be true to their Haltung too. I have the autonomy and agency within my organisation to facilitate change. I started this course angry that social care systems were broken, now I know I have the power to change that, even if the change is small. Social pedagogy has given me a language and the tools to act on my intuitive feelings. It gives me permission to think creative thoughts and do what I feel is right. It offers me the research behind the visceral feelings I have. It has challenged me, inspired me, it has started my fire.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.“ Martin Luther King.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554830056939{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1554826539202{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554826982771{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

We want to build our social work collective on your ideas, and champion the causes that matter to you. To this end we are working with a number of like-minded organisations to provide you with the tools to develop good practice across the UK and to bring together a community of people as passionate about social work as we are.

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Find Out More” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Reinstilling Child Road Safety for Family Safety Week

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”“Every death or serious injury of a child on roads is devastating for the family, the wider community, and the pre-school, school or college – and every one is preventable.“ – Brake: The Road Safety Charity” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:20|text_align:right|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1554221170797{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]This week marks Family Safety Week 2019, a coordinated effort from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents where they work to raise awareness about the thousands of preventable accidents that happen every year, putting children and families at risk. While there are around 14,000 people killed by accidents in the UK every year, the focus for 2019 is on pedestrian safety. For the past few decades, our lives have been dominated by cars; to the extent where we now need congestion charges, car share schemes and more to counteract the immense traffic levels. However, this natural dependence on automobiles has left the most recent generations facing an unexpected struggle when it comes to road safety.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It seems strange that in 2019 we need to discuss simple matters like crossing a road or other pedestrian risks, as we’ve been dealing with automobiles since the 1800s and mass-produced cars since the early 20th Century. Surely this is something we should have mastered by now?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Apparently not.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:18|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1554220717308{padding-bottom: 16px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In 2017, there were 24,831 serious injuries in road traffic accidents reported to the police, of which 1,793 people were killed. 26% of the fatalities were pedestrians, showing a serious concern for how we approach staying safe on the road.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4732″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Why does this involve social workers, when we have so many other requirements on our time, I hear you ask? In 2017, 5,838 children aged under 15 were injured in road accidents. That’s 5,838 children and young people who sustained preventable injuries, raising a question about the extended safeguarding process. If we’re working to protect children from unsafe home environments, shouldn’t we also make sure they are safe out of the home as well?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The primary responsibility for teaching children road safety skills should still lie with families and schools, as the main contact points for those under 18. However, the extended community should play a role in ensuring the future generations know how to stay safe with automotive technology. Cars will only get more and more advanced as time goes on, so we all need to understand that they still pose risks and a level of human awareness and consciousness is needed to avoid having an accident. In addition, a lot of the vulnerable children who naturally are part of the social work sphere might be more susceptible to road accidents, due to learning or physical disabilities, or even mental health issues which affect their caution and overall safety. Therefore, it’s important for those in our sector to advocate for an increase in the education surrounding road safety, as part of our overall campaign to help keep young people safe.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have put together information packs to further develop the way we educate both children and adults about their interactions with the road and automobiles. They shouldn’t be the only ones though, and most importantly, the education should be tailored to suit every demographic. As with so many generalist issues within society, anyone who doesn’t fit into a neat tidy box is marginalised from appropriate education about how to protect themselves. Those with disorders or illnesses which impact their relationship with the road aren’t always given personalised guidelines, and those without are rarely taught about how to support people who may take longer crossing the road or who may treat road safety differently. For example, children with a learning disability might view the road or cars with a level of curiosty that is not tampered by natural societal instincts to be cautious. Or children from unsafe backgrounds, where they may not have the standard parental guidance, might not know how to cross a road safely or the risks that come with playing near high traffic areas. If the social work community became a stronger voice in this debate, we’d be able to collectively protect thousands of children and young people who are killed or injured every year. By promoting higher levels of road awareness and education, our society will ensure that future generations not only have sufficient pedestrian safety knowledge, but also evolve into more capable and considerate drivers. All in all, this is a win win. And the best part is, that it’s so simple to enact.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Education is key in this matter. All we need is a bigger push towards more road safety classes in schools being driven from the local government down. In addition, social workers should make sure to keep a particular eye out for the vulnerable children and young people they work with in regard to roads and automobiles. Are they out driving on their own, posing a threat to other drivers or pedestrians due to their emotional instability? Perhaps some trauma you’re working through with them is making them careless when walking along the pavement. We all know that the issues which bring in a social worker can have ripple on effects across the entire lifespan of a vulnerable child; but currently, we’re not talking about how it may make them more susceptible to preventable accidents. Family Safety Week isn’t just about parents remembering to keep knives out of the reach of small children or watching out for if they choke on a small toy. Our community in social work is a family of sorts. We look out to protect each other from harm, and we support the chilcren and young people within our community to ensure they fulfil their potential. Therefore, Family Safety Week needs to be on our radar within social work, so that we can continue to look after our service users and prevent them from having potentially fatal, but vastly preventable accidents.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1554219682823{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554219921726{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

One Stop Social has a whole range of useful resources to help keep children and young people safe, in lots of different areas of their lives, not just in regards to road safety. To find out more, head to our Resources Page, and don’t forget to let us know if you have a relevant guide, tool or book you’d like to recommend to our social work community! 

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”12px”][vc_btn title=”Safe at Home Safe Alone: Youth Activity Book” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Children’s booklet – Feel safe at home: What to do if violence is happening around you” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Safety questionnaire and toolkit for Young People” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Scotland Says Autism is a Difference Not a Disorder

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We’re all used to the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” for someone who is on the autism scale in some way. However, a change is being demanded from our Northern nation; Scotland want to ‘redefine’ autism as a difference not a disorder. This is an important step towards an end to the stigma surrounding autism and understanding that being diagnosed with ASD is not as debilitating as the stereotypes make it out to be. Linking in with #AutismAwarenessWeek this week, a Scottish partnerships is announcing its intention to advocate for the name change, as part of a process to enable autistic people to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Now, while it’s not the entirety of the Scottish nation who are requesting this, it’s still symbolic of the drive to promote equality and rewire society’s psyche to see autism less as a condition that needs curing, but just a different way of approaching the world. The charge is being led by Inspiring Scotland, an organisation working “towards a Scotland where everyone, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, or the circumstances they are born into, has the chance to enjoy a happy, healthy life free from poverty or disadvantage”. Working with the Scottish Government, Queen Margaret University and Scottish Autism, this campaign is dedicated to showcasing what autism really looks like and the positive contributions those on the spectrum can make. After all, some of the biggest breakthroughs come from just seeing the world in a slightly different way, so shouldn’t this “disorder” be celebrated for the potential for innovation?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Why bother?” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:26|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Words have power. Although Juliet famously said: “what’s in a name?”, we can’t deny that names have an intrinsic hold over our psyche. A name conjures a particular image, sentiment and value; without us having any control over it. This then drives how we think about something or someone, and how we act towards it/them. Therefore, if you define someone with a “disorder”, they are immediately seen as a victim of an illness or at the mercy of a condition. The term “poor thing” will always come to mind. There’s also the notion that this may not always last forever; that they could be cured. Hence, there’s been a negative association with the terminology for autism for years, as it’s been classed as a “disorder”. Realistically though, autism provides a wonderful opportunity for out of the box thinking, creativity and insight into new areas; which in an era of uniformity and homogeneity across both products and individuals, is a very welcome change.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4727″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At face value, this seems like the start of a good journey for not just Scotland but the whole of the UK; helping us all progress to a more inclusive society. However, you can’t help but thinking, is this the stand to take?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We recently wrote about the struggle that autistic adults face when trying to integrate into society, so would efforts not be better served campaigning for revised employment standards or an increase in community programmes so that they feel less isolated? While moving away from the term ‘disorder’ is important in the campaign towards equality for those on the autism spectrum; surely the better move would be to ensure that appropriate safeguarding and inclusive structures are in place? There are around 700,000 people with autism in the UK, but more often than not, we’re hearing about how they are discriminated against, not supported enough in work or school and face unnecessary challenges. There aren’t enough support systems in place for children who have autism so that they get the most out of education that they can, or for adults to thrive in a work setting. Our society is too rigid, based around people who’s brains operate in one way, so those who fit into a different box struggle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Whether it’s a difference or a disorder to you, or you’re simply not bothered about the name; one thing must remain true: autistic people face a stigma that needs to end. We need to do better in showing our acceptance for those who view the world in a unique way, fostering their individuality and celebrating their difference.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1554136997385{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1554136936287{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

A key part of breaking down the stigma surrounding autism and those affected by it is to talk. Sharing information about how day to day experiences differ can help promote better understanding. If you’re working with someone who has autism, then make sure you look up different resources and share techniques which you find offer suitable support. That way, social work can develop into a more supportive system overall.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_btn title=”Person Centred Planning Toolkit” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”A Practical Approach at Home for Parents & Carers (Autism Spectrum Disorder)” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]

NQSW explores relationships as the heart of social work

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The past” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Throughout my social work education, it was drummed into me the need to be a radical social worker. Fight for social justice they said, stand up to the establishment they said, this was the ONLY social worker to be. Now whilst I don’t mind challenging when necessary, here I was, a fresh faced, unqualified newbie who was now questioning how I was going to hold down a job, look after my family, attend rally’s and protests and generally cause a bit of trouble. Noooooo that couldn’t be right surely? I mean, I had sacrificed my entire social life, my sanity AND the pub to fulfil my career goals, surely there was a better way? .

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”4676″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”The present” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

They say social work is a calling and I believe it is.  I have heard stories about social workers lying to people about their jobs, but not me.  Wear my badge with pride I do.  I can honestly say I love my job, I really do.  I had found that work life balance that most people fantasised about.  You see social work values really do fit in line with my own.  However, eighteen months qualified and I was beginning to feel unsatisfied.  I knew I was struggling to deal with a profession that was becoming besieged by targets and timescales.  It has been feeling like social work was being defined by everyone except social workers and we were losing our voice.

Then I was given information about an event looking at social pedagogy in Europe.  Having completed a module on it in university I was intrigued to find out more………and besides, who can refuse a free day out in Preston?

On the day of the event I spoke to many people from many countries, all talking about this value-based approach of relational working.  This was it, this was the “radical” social work I had been looking for.  A holistic way of working to support well-being, learning and growth. Putting relationships at the heart of social work!  Before I knew it, I had signed up to the MA in Social Pedagogy Leadership, and that “free” day out in Preston would result in more student debt!

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One of the first things I was introduced to was the term ‘Haltung’.  Roughly translated as ethos, mindset or attitude.  I was taught how Haltung guides our actions by what we believe in, and is characterised by core conditions of congruence, empathic understanding, and unconditional positive regard.  It was now that I realised why I had been struggling.  Yes, I love my job, but at a time when social work and austerity go hand in hand, I was finding it increasingly difficult to build relationships with the children and families I work alongside, and I was realising why that was.  Relationships are important to me both personal and professional – and these are naturally linked.  It was obvious there was a “tug of loyalty” between my Haltung and the needs of my organisation.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”The three ‘P’s'” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

I was always told not to share any personal information when working with families.  I found this difficult as I felt like I was doing “to” families rather than doing “with”.  There I was with my laptop and ID badge oozing power, expecting families to divulge their deepest darkest secrets without sharing anything of myself.  I mean, as far as I am aware I am human too? I have my own challenges and experiences, and by sharing I could help reduce the imbalance of power and connect on a human level.  The relationship forms the foundation of my work and that could only succeed if I was authentic (3-ps).

Social work values and ethics tell us to be non-judgemental.  We were taught to be aware of our own beliefs and prejudices and how these can affect working relationships, but never to consider what the people we work with bring with them.  Very often we get “stuck” cases that become labelled as “troubled families”.

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Hermeneutics offered me an understanding of why people don’t come to any given conclusion without some form of pre-understanding, which is influenced by their own views and experiences.  “Understanding is, essentially, a historically effected event” (Gadamer, 2004). Basically, the inappropriately labelled “troubled families” bring with them their own views and experiences, and by realising how their reality is constructed by these experiences, effects how they engage and could make a person feel misunderstood.  Never had the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” made more sense – change will not happen if it is imposed.  Essentially, I needed to understand that we can all look at the same thing differently and arrive at different conclusions.

When I initially read a case, I make assumptions about a family, its natural, I am only human.  However, hermeneutics explained how my prejudices can affect my interpretations of that family.  It made me look at people’s behaviour and challenge my own thinking, beliefs and perceptions, and consciously try and not label families.  It is important to me to understand the way of life of a person, therefore, I had to understand their thinking and behaviour.  By utilising empathy and dialogue will only lead me towards a greater commitment from families and develop positive relationships.

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I am used to the scrunched-up faces and look of confusion when I tell people what I am studying.  I try and explain that social pedagogy is not a method or something we can adopt for a particular situation, it is about how we do what we do.  As professionals I learn and act using my head (knowledge) heart (emotions) and hands (actions) – striving for the balance of all three.

*Gadamer, H, G. (2004) Truth and Method. London: Continuum.

Written by an anonymous NQSW Social Worker.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_separator color=”orange”][vc_custom_heading text=”Related topic:
My Social Work Story Series: NQSW’s journey to Social Work” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left|color:%23848685″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_separator color=”orange”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1553858897896{background-color: #848685 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Want to know more about social pedagogy?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_btn title=”Thempra website has lots of information and resources” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”Sign up to the FREE Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to look at social pedagogy across Europe” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_btn title=”MA in Social Pedagogy Leadership at University of Central Lancashire” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ffffff” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ef7e21″ shape=”round” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

We don’t describe the world we see, we see the world we describe

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Before I go any further, let me clarify. I have been involved in social care in its broadest sense for the past 35+ years, aside from the odd stint at taxi driving, selling websites and various other random paid activities. Mind you, if we are talking about social care in its widest sense, maybe taxi driving is relevant experience![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In terms of mainstream ‘activity’, I have worked in a large residential home for adults with learning disabilities, had oversite of a YMCA advice and counselling centre for young people, and walked the streets as a detached youth worker. My last experiences of working for an organisation involved a number of years within regulation and inspection, firstly as a Senior Inspector for the Care Standards Inspectorate in Wales (CSIW) and then as an HMI for Estyn (Welsh Equivalent of OFSTED).[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Then I got out, to work independently. I wanted to spend time helping teams and organisations improve, rather than merely passing judgement on them. I wanted to be a more active part of the process. Initially I did what we all do, I worked the way I was familiar with. I looked at strengths and weaknesses, but there was an inherent focus on weaknesses – because as we all know, if you can fix the problems everything will be fine won’t it? Hindsight has shown me it’s not that easy, but I didn’t recognise that at the time.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”How did I find AI?” font_container=”tag:h4|font_size:28|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” css=”.vc_custom_1551883172704{padding-bottom: 35px !important;}”][vc_column_text]After about two years of mainly conducting independent reviews, I had a random conversation with an ex-colleague who told me she had been on a one-day course on AI (Appreciative Inquiry). AI I said, isn’t that something to do with cows or computers? Isn’t that where robots will take over the world? However, the term caught my interest, and Jo’s short summary of what it involved fascinated me even more. I then went on a very steep learning curve that turned how I worked upside down.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]AI is based on positive psychology and social constructionism. I won’t say anymore about the underpinning theory except to say it’s interesting. There is also a methodology for its application – the 5D Cycle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”15″ equal_height=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1496755964373{padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_icon type=”entypo” icon_entypo=”entypo-icon entypo-icon-info-circled” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”custom” size=”lg” align=”center” custom_background_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_custom_heading text=”Define” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]

What you’re looking at (amongst other logistical matters)

[/vc_column_text][vc_icon type=”entypo” icon_entypo=”entypo-icon entypo-icon-search” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”custom” size=”lg” align=”center” custom_background_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_custom_heading text=”Discover” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]

What’s working and why (the why is important)

[/vc_column_text][vc_icon type=”entypo” icon_entypo=”entypo-icon entypo-icon-clock” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”custom” size=”lg” align=”center” custom_background_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_custom_heading text=”Dream” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]

Where you want to be in the future (actually imagine you’re there)

[/vc_column_text][vc_icon type=”entypo” icon_entypo=”entypo-icon entypo-icon-pencil” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”custom” size=”lg” align=”center” custom_background_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_custom_heading text=”Design” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]

How to build on the best in order to turn your aspirations into reality

[/vc_column_text][vc_icon type=”entypo” icon_entypo=”entypo-icon entypo-icon-box” color=”white” background_style=”rounded” background_color=”custom” size=”lg” align=”center” custom_background_color=”#ef7e21″][vc_custom_heading text=”Delivery” font_container=”tag:h5|font_size:22|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21|line_height:1″ google_fonts=”font_family:Open%20Sans%3A300%2C300italic%2Cregular%2Citalic%2C600%2C600italic%2C700%2C700italic%2C800%2C800italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]

Agree how you will make the whole thing sustainable

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]AI not only makes sense in terms of the underpinning theory, it works in practice. It is a totally inclusive, bottom up, process that engages all stakeholders. To use the jargon, it is co-productive. It avoids the blame game, which typically follows the process of identifying problems. However, what it does do, is resolve the problems by reframing the conversations with a solution focused lens – i.e. the Dream stage involves talking about doing more of what is working, doing things differently and doing different things.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]I have been using AI for the past 10 years, I also train others in the approach. I use the thinking and methodology in almost everything I do. I have used it within community development, service review (extensively), programme evaluation (e.g. EU funded projects), and team development.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Have I always got it right, absolutely not! My biggest learning is the need to totally engage and involve senior decision makers and managers. Typically, they are the ones who agree to the process being used but are generally not in the room when it happens. Big mistake! The process needs ‘width’ and ‘depth’. Width involves all key stakeholders, depth involves all layers of the organisation.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]So, if AI interests you, read some more about it. Go on a course or two, then slowly introduce it into your work. If you do that, I can guarantee you will see more and more applications for its use…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Contributed by Roger Rowett.

Roger Rowett is based in North Wales. You can find out more about his work at He has written a number of publications and books on AI including ‘Zen and the Art of Appreciative Inquiry’.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”content-moving” css=”.vc_custom_1551963003111{padding-top: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;background-color: #848685 !important;background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”While you’re here…” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1551963180008{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

We have a whole range of helpful books, guides, tools and worksheets on our Resource Page that can help develop your practice in different ways. We’re always looking for new avenues and ideas which can support good practice across the UK and we welcome any contributions from our social work community. If you’ve got something you think will help social workers – get in touch!

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