Social work books – recommended reading list

as experienced social workers and practice educators, we’ve been asked by a number of student social workers to compile a list of recommended social work books.

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.

Seven reasons to become a social worker

If you want an in-demand career that lets you make a real difference in the world, there’s never been a better time to become a social worker. If you need a little persuasion, here are seven reasons why you should join.

It will challenge you in ways few other careers will

Social work challenges much more than just your typical professional skills. Social work is practically challenging. No two cases are the same, which means social workers must constantly solve problems and apply their studies and experience in creative ways. Social workers also have a direct influence on someone else’s life, which can be extremely rewarding, but also emotionally difficult, which is why social work requires a unique combination of intelligence and emotional strength.

You get to change someone’s life for the better

You may not get a thank you or card every day, or even every year, but when you do occasionally get someone thanking you for helping them to overcome the challenges in their life, you will not be able to stop smiling. To know that you helped another person in some small (or sometimes big) way is quite rewarding and one that you will cherish throughout your career.

You will learn new things about yourself

The situations social work put you in are unique and often extreme. You will learn how to cope when someone feels unwell or has emotional and well-being issues; you will learn how do deal with aggressive or challenging behaviour. You will learn your different strengths and weaknesses as you constantly reflect on your practice.

Being a social worker is really diverse

Whilst training to be a social worker, you will be trained in all aspects of the profession, from child protection to mental health. While you can choose to specialise in one area once you qualify, you will have the opportunity to move around different areas.

It is not just a desk job!

At any point during the day, you may get a phone call that requires you to drop everything and go to the scene of a crisis. You have to attend people’s homes, hospitals, schools, and community centres. Being an effective social worker means engaging with the community and this cannot be done from behind a desk. In fact, when you do eventually get to sit down at your desk, you enjoy the short break.

Your job will never be boring

In social work, each day is completely different than the next. While you may try and plan meticulously, you can guarantee that there will be several unexpected challenges for you to deal with each week. Social work constantly keeps you on your toes, allowing room for new challenges each day.

Opportunities to make a difference

Social work is undeniably stressful, because you witness many challenges firsthand. You might have to help families living in poverty, parents with drug problems or young people who are turning to crime. You might also witness mistreatment of senior citizens or meet victims of sexual violence. Social work careers are not for the faint of heart, but they are for those who want to make a difference. Few careers offer you the opportunity to be an advocate and a positive force for change the way that choosing to become a social worker can.

Deciding on whether or not a career in social work is for you takes a lot of thoughtful consideration. If, however, a passion for social justice and an interest in both your community and job security appeal to you, then social work may be exactly the career you’ve been looking for.

Resource E-Pack for Adult Practitioners | Social Care Resources

This Resource E-Pack has been developed for Adult Practitioners and showcases an excellent list of free direct resources that can be used when working with vulnerable adults. 

Visit our direct resources, guides & assessment handouts centre

Over 400 direct resources you can download .

Social Work Needs to Help Fathers

[vc_row bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” animate_item=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][vc_column bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” min_height=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][text delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=””]It’s no secret that families have changed in recent years. Divorce is no longer a taboo subject, IVF and other advances have made it easier for everyone to start a family and, slowly but surely, adoption by a gay or lesbian couple is becoming legal worldwide. To look at things simply, the term family means something different to what it did 50 years ago. With such positive development though, we must take the time to make sure we are adapting to the new normal: in particular in terms of the roles fathers play in the lives of their children.[/text][custom_heading delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=”” style=””]

Why focus on dads?

[/custom_heading][text delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=””]When a couple separates children are more likely to live with their mother, which leaves their relationships with their fathers in a precarious position. Or if a family is hit by a tragedy, a father can sometimes be the only parent a child can turn to. These changes mean the importance of the role a father stereotypically used to play in the nurture and emotional upbringing of a child is very different. With these new changes, social workers need to make an active effort to ensure that they are working with fathers and teaching them about how best to care for their children. There’s endless research proving how having an engaged dad is beneficial for the whole family, with kids developing better social skills and mental health, as well as performing better educationally. Sharing the child care responsibilities reduces the pressure on individual parents and statistically leads to more positive relationships with both parents.

The past year has been dominated by strong women standing up for themselves and taking a stand for equality; and while it’s a slightly quieter movement, men are fighting their own fight around gender stereotypes and what it looks like to be a man in 2019. Hollywood actor Justin Baldoni recently gave an inspiring TED Talk which went viral in a matter of days, where he discussed why he was done being “man enough”. President Obama was celebrated not just for his political actions, but for the way he expressed his emotions towards his daughters while in the public eye, most notably in his farewell address in Chicago. Men in positions of power or fame are more frequently using their platforms to discuss modern masculinity and most importantly, their relationships with their children. The power of technology and media means that children can see what positive father-child relationships look like across the world; whereas historically a father eager to actively participate in the typically feminine role of care was a rarity in everyday life. It’s becoming more normal for fathers to be involved in their child’s emotional growth.[/text][custom_heading delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=”” style=””]

So how do we start helping UK fathers?

[/custom_heading][text delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=””]The whole social work industry needs to develop programmes where fathers can learn about pregnancy and raising children in a welcoming environment, through advice from men going through similar situations or sessions with doctors or child psychologists. By understanding the situation, fathers can then learn to facilitate change with the help of social workers. As a society we need to show support for men who challenge the stereotypical norm and are keen to take on a leading role in the emotional education of their children. Practitioners need to involve dads in their work, by asking about them if they’re absent in meetings or ensuring their voice is heard. It can be difficult to engage with some fathers, maybe they aren’t comfortable discussing their emotions, especially during tough times but it is so important for the whole family that they do. A good place to start could be promoting support groups for dads dealing with loss or encouraging workplaces to recognise family commitments for men in the same way as they do for women. This is an issue that has gained government attention, with MPs recognising that the current parental leave system needs reform, but while the politicians debate legal change; we as members of communities need to show societal change. Social workers need to make sure there is adequate support for dads within the existing structures, even with simple things like making sure fathers get all the same information as mothers. Meanwhile, everyone else can show their encouragement for dads by asking about them in schools, doctors’ appointments, extracurricular sessions… any aspect of a child’s life where another parent would be a positive addition.

A father is an irreplaceable part of a child’s life; no matter what social background, economic class or nationality – fathers are important. And if social work does not factor in this importance then children can be left with emotional scars and damaged relationships that stop them from living their best lives, which at its core is what social work aims to do for every citizen.[/text][callout type=”style_one” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” title=”Direct Resources” message=”List of free to download resources you can use when working with parents.” title_color=”” text_color=”” bg_image=”” href=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][button text=”Parenting Risk Assessment | Assessing Parenting Capacity (NSPCC)” type=”” size=”large” color_class=”” float=”start” target=”blank” lightbox=”” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” href=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk//social-work-social-care-resources/resources-card/?dID=5379″ title=”” popup_content=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][clear by=”10px” id=”” class=””][button text=”Parents Guide to making plans for their children after separation” type=”” size=”large” color_class=”” float=”start” target=”blank” lightbox=”” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” href=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk//social-work-social-care-resources/resources-card/?dID=3819″ title=”” popup_content=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][/callout][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” animate_item=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][vc_column bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” min_height=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Social Work Application Forms | What you need to know

[vc_row bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” animate_item=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][vc_column bg_type=”” dima_canvas_style=”” min_height=”” translate_x=”0″ dima_z_index=”0″ delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=””][text delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” id=”” class=””]When completing application forms, how do you feel about them? For most, it can be an anxious and somewhat daunting experience, which often includes a combination of dread and boredom. However, what do you need to know in order to make it through? Well, below we have offered some excellent pointers and examples to help demystify the experience!

Make it easy for the short-Lister

Notice what the organisation or service is asking for within the essential and desirable job description. You will often have clues that you can use, such as using the headings:

  • Relevant experience
  • Achievements
  • Relevant competencies from the person specification
  • Essential experiences
  • Skills

Analyse the person specification and BE CLEAR

“Go through the job and worker descriptions and extract the key criteria they are looking for. When filling in the application form, place each criterion as a heading and use examples from practice to demonstrate how you have met those criteria. It may seem simplistic but if you are explicit that you are suitable for the job role, then an interview is guaranteed.” Source: Guardian.

General Competency questions in Application Forms 

  • Describe a situation when you lead a team/worked in a team
  • Give an example of a time when you dealt with confrontation
  • Describe a situation when you influenced or motivated others
  • Describe a situation when you used initiative
  • Give an example of when you solved a problem
  • Give an example of how you have applied knowledge of legislation in a social work setting.
  • How you would you seek to promote independence for service users
  • Give an example of a time when you acted in an anti-oppressive way.
  • What factors do you consider when making an assessment?
  • What factors do you consider when assessing risk?

If you are completing several application forms at once, as is often the case, you can use the above headings to create a ‘bulk answer’ crib sheet. This will help you evidence your work consistently whilst also reducing chances of you becoming complacent.

Use the STAR approach to help evidence examples

  • S – SITUATION – When, where, with whom (contextualise)
  • T – TASK – Describe the situation or task you want to offer as evidence
  • A – ACTION – What did you do? What was your contribution?  How did you make things happen?
  • R – RESULT – What was the result/outcome? (preferably positive) What did you learn?

Using the above formula will assist in offering structure to your answers, whilst also keeping them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely. Be concise and to the point. Have a go: Pick a question and share a STAR example

Personal Statement strategies

Completing the personal statements/specifications section is by far the most difficult task to undertake in any application form. As such, develop strategies to help guide you through this processes. For example:

  • First sentence -make a short STATEMENT summarising how you meet the individual specification from job details.
  • Then provide an EXAMPLE of the claim you have just made.
  • Final sentence – show REFLECTION on the above – what you realise.

Example – Specification requirement – about commitment to promoting Equal Opportunities:

‘I have always tried to ensure in my personal and work life that I am sensitive to and inclusive of the cultures and circumstances of other people. In 2006, I worked as a mentor/facilitator to a group of students on the Aim Higher project to encourage pupils from non-traditional backgrounds to consider university. I designed projects and activities that recognised and focused on the diverse experience within the group to ensure participation. The programme was successful for the pupils and a rewarding learning experience for me. The experience showed me that working together with mutual respect is more productive and rewarding.’

We hope this has offered you with some useful guidance in relation to application form completion. Please feel free to download or save a copy of this. The above information has been used and delivered to Social Work Students, Social Workers and Return Social Workers as well as Care Professionals so as to help increase employment opportunities.[/text][callout type=”style_one” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” title=”We have also completed the following guidance” message=”Further resources to help you land that perfect job” title_color=”” text_color=”” bg_image=”” href=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][button text=”10 Steps from Job Application to Job Interview” type=”” color_class=”” lightbox=”” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” href=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/10-steps-from-job-application-to-job-interview-one-stop-social/” title=”” popup_content=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][clear by=”10px” id=”” class=””][button text=”Social Work Interview Questions: What you need to know” type=”” color_class=”” lightbox=”” delay=”” delay_duration=”” delay_offset=”” href=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/social-work-interview-questions-need-know/” title=”” popup_content=”” id=”” class=”” style=”” tutorials=””][/callout][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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.

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Join the Social Work Community: Pursuing a career in social work with the University of Manchester


People come to a career in social work through a variety of routes. Some come as career changers. Mature students come into social work having experienced successful careers in other areas of employment but feeling they want to do something they consider to be more worthwhile with their lives. People often want to make a difference and to use their skills to benefit others in the community. They bring life experience with them and are able to transfer experiences from previous employment to help them succeed in their social work careers. Others come to social work as they have had experience of benefiting from social work services themselves or seeing how services have benefited others. People also come to social work from their undergraduate degrees – wanting to continue studying and to gain the social work qualification to enable them to develop their careers effectively.

At the University of Manchester we are very proud of our MA Social Work programme and of the part we play in educating the social workers of the future. In 2019 the University of Manchester is rated as the tenth best University in the country  and the twenty ninth best university in the world. A social work qualification from the University of Manchester is internationally recognised. Manchester itself is an excellent place to live and to study – it is a welcoming and inclusive city.

The MA Social Work programme recruits approximately 40 students each year so we have the opportunity to really get to know you and to work closely with you to develop your potential. Each student has a dedicated Academic Adviser who stays with you throughout your studies and offers you academic and personal support.  We are key members of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy and have strong links with social work employers across Greater Manchester, including the ten local authorities. This means we are able to place you in excellent practice placements to give you experience of social work in the community. We also make sure you are well prepared before you go out on placement. In your first semester we work closely with you in our simulation suites to help you practice your interviews and communication skills to build up your confidence and expertise. You will work closely with social work practitioners, people with lived experience who use social work services and experienced academics. You will also be supported to develop your academic skills and to work towards submitting a dissertation on a practice related area of your choice. You will be supported in your move into employment and most of our students obtain social work positions very quickly after qualifying.

We still have a few places available on our social work programme to start in September 2019. If you want to know more about what studying for social work at the University of Manchester entails hearing about this directly from our students – past and present – would be a good starting point:

Apply today: Study a MA in Social Work at the University of Manchester

For further information about our programme and details about how to apply please contact our Graduate Social Work MHS Email: pgtaught.socialwork@manchester.ac.uk or Gary Norton gary.norton@manchester.ac.uk, who is the Admissions Tutor for the MA Social Work programme.

My Social Work Story Series: Managers Need to be Good Drivers

Being a social work manager is similar to being a responsible driver.That may seem like an unusual analogy, but realistically, the principles are the same. You need to understand the rules of the road, you have to have a great awareness of the law, experience improves your confidence and decision making… Your driving evolves the more you drive, simple as that. As you become more experienced you know when to use the fast roads and when to explore the countryside. You will experience speed bumps, road closure barriers and having to go the long way round. Road works will appear in your way and you will have no control over speed limits. You need to complete regular servicing and maintenance and you will be tested to ensure you are still road worthy.

Sound familiar yet?

Your journey as a social worker will take many forms, but life as a manager is always going to be riddled with pot-holes, speedbumps, route changes and complications. No matter how positive the experience is, I’ve never encountered an entire smooth ride that goes exactly as planned. Maybe that’s just my experiences, but it’s always felt like a car journey: clear objective with the possibility of changes at every stage.

So why, why do we do it?

We want to support others in their journey, to achieve their destination. We want to help people grow, to develop their knowledge and understanding and to Improve their confidence.  We want to be part of a great resource, where people get linked up with others, where challenges can be seen from a different direction and regardless of the chaos, spinning roundabouts, the traffic lights and road works destinations are reached. We want to use our practice knowledge to support your journey and help you navigate the roads ahead.

We will experience delays, breakdowns in communication, chaos due to critical situations and times when no route is a good one. But with the back-up of effective managers staff should never feel alone, they should never feel they have no-one to turn and in the event they do they should know who to contact. As a responsible driver, you need to be able to handle any last-minute changes or twists and turns. Life as a social work manager is no different – you need to be the calm in the storm, able to support your team through any complications.

]There are emergency services for social workers, support groups and forums should you ever feel truly alone or isolated. But whilst it’s good to have this back-up and reassurance for a time of crisis, ideally, managers would want to provide you the emotional reassurance and stability you need, in a timely manner to keep you happily on your journey.

Contributed by Nigella, a Social Work Manager

While you’re here…

No matter what your social work journey has been, we’re here for you. One Stop Social are a community of practitioners who work together to develop the future of social work, and your voice matters to us in this mission. We want to champion the causes that matter to you, celebrate your successes and have a positive impact on your working life however we can.