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.

Depression & Older People – An International Perspective

Depression impacts 1 in 5 of the population

As the saying goes, ‘time flies’. Suddenly we’re already in March and no one can quite believe how our lives can move on so quickly. When you have the energy and distractions of youth, it can be easy to forget that the passage of time affects others much more drastically.

Older people are more likely to suffer from depression, an issue which impacts 1 in 5 of the whole population; and feeling like time has left them behind can bring about intense feelings of loneliness and sadness. So, the dilemma presents itself: how can we help?

What are the ‘symptoms’

Depression can manifest itself in the elderly through symptoms such as lack of energy, sleep disturbances, neglecting personal care and a loss of interest in socialising or previous hobbies. Whether living in their own homes or in care homes, older people of society struggle to fight depression once their regular routines of work or childcare are lost. Retirement brings an era of great change for people and as their health begins to deteriorate, it can be easy to slip into a sense of hopelessness and depression.

Now, it must be recognised that diagnosing depression in older people can be tricky, because the symptoms can be mistaken for grief – an unfortunate companion of the passage of time. As we age, time takes people we care about from us and processing loss can be an incredibly difficult part of life. Therefore, it’s important that we all learn these differences, so that we can be present and able to help those around us who may be going through a tough time. Looking out for our elders does not always involve them directly; it can sometimes be more about the younger generations clueing themselves up on mental health and how things change over time. By understanding what older citizens may be going through, we can then be in a better frame of mind to provide the comfort and support they need.

Understand the role depression

Once we understand the role depression plays in the lives of the elderly, it’s then the case of figuring our how best to fight it. For this, sometimes it’s best to widen our horizons and compare how other countries are finding different ways to support the elderly. While countries such as Germany, who have a current epidemic of “exporting” their elderly due to the price of care in state, are not the example to be followed; another European country is setting the bar pretty high: Denmark.

Envy of the Scandinavian lifestyle is now extending beyond IKEA meatballs and a “hygge” approach to interior design and into the care sector all because of Denmark. Not only do they spend 2.2% of their GDP on the elderly and establishing the necessary facilities for them, but they also have councils of senior citizens to advise on the improvements needed to create the best quality of life. The Danish have also put in place financial help by providing a basic pension of £811 before tax AND making medicine cheaper for those who don’t have a private pension. Their centralised e-healthcare database is also a great source of pride for the nation, as it allows them to be more aware of medical issues their elderly may have; working in conjunction with a policy that all 80-year olds are entitled to home visits to show the older citizens that they are still a priority. We could definitely take a page from their book.

Denmark is not the only nation to take a new look at as we try to rethink how we try to provide the best care for our elders and protect them from the pain depression brings. Canada and the USA are currently taking on an adorable approach to revitilising the elderly: by throwing a bunch of energetic toddlers at them. In Seattle, a living care community shares its facility five days a week with a kindergarten, looking after 125 children aged 0-5. The senior citizens are mostly in need of serious care but being around such young and enthusiastic children reminds them of how vibrant life can be. “Humans are, and have always been, an intergenerational species” so bringing together these vastly different generations of society is both an act of innovation and tradition. After all, before there are friends and bosses and the pressures of adulthood, there have always been grandparents ready and waiting to join in with the daily game or sing a nursery rhyme with.

Depression in older people can stem from feeling out of touch or alone

Here in the UK, we’ve started to recognise these benefits through the Channel 4 programme “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”. But one TV show is not enough if we want to truly help our senior citizens feel an equally-valued part of our community. Depression in older people can stem from feeling out of touch or alone if they live far from family or in a care home because their bodies are not working as they used to. Four-year olds are the very epitome of joy, with their weirdly wonderful train of thought and infectious laughter – so it’s hard to feel depressed and helpless around them.

Our senior citizens are our grandfathers who sit in a deck chair and talk to you about the garden, our grandmothers who never think you’ve eaten enough and will always smell of cake, our parents who would move mountains for us even when they struggle to walk. They fought for women’s equality and in a war unlike any of us want to really understand; they designed the fashion statement pieces we now are calling “vintage chic” and fought against politicians for our futures. Now it is our turn to stand up for them and we are not doing enough. Ideas like integrating the care of older people with the education of the young should be rolled out nationwide and providing financial and structural support shouldn’t be up for regular debate. The UK always strives to be different, but that shouldn’t mean ignoring successful policies from other countries. After all, we owe our elders this much.

Did you know you can find a job and upload your CV? You can also search, find and refer to the latest social work and care courses and events.

Resources addressing Depression - download for free

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]

Top Tips: How To Be A Good Social Work Manager

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As practitioners, what qualities do you look out for and value in a manager? Below we’ve put a few ‘top tips’ that we hope will help assist managers in developing their skills and support for practitioners within the social work and care sectors.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Honesty” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

If a staff member has asked you for help on a certain task and/or your opinion, be honest. Sounds simple, right? But you’d be surprised at how many managers try to ‘wing it’ or misinform their staff. Honesty really is the best policy… so lets practice in line with the correct social work values and ethics we’ve been taught.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”You won’t know everything, live with it!” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

The difference between being a good manager and an average one is that a good manager will be the first to admit that they don’t know everything. But, what they will do is help you find out the answer (as a shared journey). By being open about not being all knowing will break down barriers and show that you are human after all. This will help create a far better working relationship with your staff/practitioners.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

One of the most common themes when highlighting the difference between a boss and a leader is that the latter is not afraid to get down and dirty in completing work with staff. Whereas the former is more than happy to sit back and ‘bark’ orders (usually to hide their own incompetence) even when there are staff shortages… A good leader will not be afraid to do as well as say.

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4908″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center”][vc_custom_heading text=”Don’t punish good practice” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

As managers we can often become reliant on our most skilled and experienced practitioners to complete the majority of work. We often allocate and inundate them with the most complex cases and do this because we know that the work will get completed to a good standard. However, think about it, this isn’t good practice. In doing so, you are likely to increase staff burn due to them managing unworkable caseloads. It can also create feelings of resentment within a team, which can be toxic. So, make sure cases are evenly distributed between the teams. Yes, you may need to offer one practitioner more support, but this helps professional development and will strengthen the team and their practice.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Good communication skills are essential” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

To manage effectively, it is wrong to assume that you can communicate with all staff at the same level or way. If staff are to fully process information, communication must be tailored to their own individual needs. Remember learning styles when working with service users/customers? Well, the same applies here… Some learn best by doing and others by watching or following. As managers, you need to adapt to these variants and engage with your staff differently.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Compliment staff work” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

All too often managers only comment on staff work if it’s not of the expected level or standard. This can create an atmosphere of hostility and one that will be counter-productive. Whilst it sounds a bit cheesy, positivity really does breed positivity. So, the next time a practitioner does something well, tell them… It doesn’t hurt.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Be careful not to create anxiety” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

Sometimes it’s difficult as managers not to feel the stress of the job. Whilst this will always (to some extent) be a part of our role, it’s essential that your anxieties are not passed onto your practitioners. Yeah, we want to promote professional autonomy, but we need to do this in a supportive and ‘save’ environment. If we don’t safeguard staff from manager anxiety, this will increase the likelihood of panicked decision making; which will fall under defensive rather than defensible practice.

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Related article:

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”How To Be A Social Work Manager Practitioners Value” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:center|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-manager-value%2F||target:%20_blank|rel:nofollow”][vc_empty_space][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#ef7e21″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Free Resource Packs on Self Harm, Forced Marriage, Trafficking & FGM

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Self-harm Awareness Resource Pack” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Virtual College have completed these free resource packs on self harm in young people, forced marriage & FGM. Download copies for free now.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]To help parents & practitioners to understand the scale of self-harm and raise awareness of the issue, we have created a free resource pack.

The Resource Pack includes:

  • A poster
  • An infographic
  • An email footer
  • Images to share on social media
  • A website banner

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Download Self-harm Awareness Resource Pack” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1310%26title%3DSelf-harm%2520awareness%2520resource%2520pack%2520%7C%2520Understanding%2520Young%2520Minds|||rel:nofollow”][vc_custom_heading text=”Human Trafficking Resource Pack” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]An estimated 36 million people are being used, bought, sold or transported for exploitation worldwide, yet awareness of the issue remains low. Download this resource pack by filling out the form below to help raise awareness across your organisation.

This resource pack contains:

  • A poster for your staff
  • A flowchart of actions to take should you suspect trafficking
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 legislation

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Download Human Trafficking Resource Pack” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1311%26title%3DHuman%2520Trafficking%2520Resource%2520Pack||target:%20_blank|rel:nofollow”][vc_custom_heading text=”Recognising and Preventing FGM Resource Pack” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]A recent study revealed that 137,000 women in England and Wales are estimated to be living with the consequences of FGM. We worked with the Home Office to combat this by creating a resource pack which aims to increase awareness of the issue.

To help you raise awareness of FGM, this pack includes:

  • A poster for your staff
  • An email to send to your colleagues
  • A banner to put in your email signature

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Download Recognising and Preventing FGM Resource Pack” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1312%26title%3DRecognising%2520and%2520Preventing%2520FGM%2520Resource%2520Pack||target:%20_blank|rel:nofollow”][vc_custom_heading text=”Awareness of Forced Marriage Resource Pack” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Help in the fight against forced marriage by downloading this resource pack and raise awareness across your organisation.

This free resource pack contains:

  • A poster for your staff
  • A footer for your email
  • A facts and figures infographic
  • A guide to Forced Marriage legislation

[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Download Awareness of Forced Marriage Resource Pack” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#ef7e21″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fsocial-work-social-care-resources%2Fresources-card%2F%3FdID%3D1313%26title%3DAwareness%2520of%2520Forced%2520Marriage%2520Resource%2520Pack||target:%20_blank|rel:nofollow”][vc_column_text]Virtual College also run a number of free online courses. Follow the link below for further information.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Free Online Courses” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_background=”#666666″ outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”round” align=”center” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.onestopsocial.co.uk%2Fvirtual-college-free-online-courses-social-workers-care-staff%2F||target:%20_blank|rel:nofollow”][/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!

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”4646″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/social-work-membership/”][vc_single_image image=”4665″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.onestopsocial.co.uk/social-work-membership/”][vc_custom_heading text=”You’re studying what?” font_container=”tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23ef7e21″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]

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.

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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:
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Add your front-line service to our Social Care Directory for free!

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We are continuing to expand our social care directory database on a National level and we’re inviting all front-line social care service providers to join us. Whether 3rd sector, charity, voluntary, private or local council services, our social care directory is completely FREE to register and list.

All you need to do is register for a free ‘advertiser’ account via our sign-in/register page. Once your email has been validated, you’ll be able to list any service you offer under the ‘social care directory’ listing package. It takes five minutes and it’s a great cost effective way to help promote the fantastic services you offer.

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One Stop Social was created by Matt Hughes when he was managing a local Children’s Team. What he found was that front-line services and social care practitioners needed a better way to help improve referrals and communications, so that the right services could be found to help those in need of them. He understood that time is precious due to work pressures. As such, One Stop Social’s aims isto be a single point of access or ‘one stop shop’ where practitioners can search, find and refer to local social care services.

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For 3 years, we’ve been supporting the lives of thousands of UK social workers by assisting with interview skills, practice education, CPD sessions, legal training, access to relevant jobs and resources to build good practice. Our Work and Care Together events unite our community for innovative discussions and valuable training, continuing our mission to advocate good practice nationwide.

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Don’t Let Your Past Define Your Future: Care Leaver’s Story & Advice

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Paul is a young man who is confident and charming. He tells me, he lives life to the full and feels lucky to be where he is. Paul has his own business (hairstylist) and is surrounded by friends and family members who love and care for him dearly. Life seems good.

However, Paul says that life hasn’t always been good. There is a distinctive tattoo on his left wrist with the date 4th December 2000. Paul tells me that this was the day when he and his brother were removed from his mother’s care and placed into the care of his Aunty.

Early years.

 “Brother was hit with a hammer.”

Paul is very open and honest about his past childhood exposures. He tells me that since he can remember, his mother would often physically and emotionally abuse them, he would go to school in dirty clothes and was bullied because of it. Paul’s school attendance was sporadic, which included a number of moves and up to three years of non-attendance, all before he was 9 years old. Paul says that he would often be hit across the face by his mother and was always in fear of retribution. She had a sense of control over them both and would regularly threaten them so as they would not disclose any of the abusive incidents.

Paul tells me of a further incident whereby his brother was hit with a hammer. He tells me that such experiences were a regular occurrence at home and he is remarkably reflective in detail. I would hazard a guess that once witnessed, such events are not easy to forget. However, Paul does not resent his mother. He says that his mother had her own issues within life, such as learning difficulties and was later diagnosed with having a personality disorder.

It wasn’t until 4th December 2000 that things started to change for Paul. After a weekend away with his Aunty, Paul remembers returning home to get his things for school. However, after being home only a short while, he says that his mother had hit his brother over the head with a shower-head and pushed him down a flight of stairs. Following the incident, Paul remembers hearing his mother call his Aunty. She admitted that she could no longer cope or care for them and to ‘come and take them away’. Paul remembers running out of his mother’s home address with only a handful of pants and socks, and a pink hair dryer – Paul admits that this was perhaps an early sign of his eventual choice of career.

This prompted a referral to children social care. Paul never returned home.

Living with my Aunty – life in Care.

“The Pink Hairdryer was a positive omen.”

Paul speaks with his upmost respect and admiration for his Aunty, who stepped in during his time of need and that he will be forever thankful for her support. However, he admits that initially, it was difficult for him as he struggled to readjust to life. His behaviour deteriorated as all he wanted to do was to go back home. After all, he knew no different – this was his ‘norm’, he tells me. During this time, he would often break or smash items within his Aunty’s home, be disruptive and eventually turned to regular drug use. Paul admits that it was a very difficult and challenging time for him, which lasted for a period of three/four years.

However, slowly but surely things started to change for the better. Through the continued support, love and attention from his Aunty and his support networks (including his Social Worker), things started to settle and Paul’s confidence increased considerably. His attendance at school increased as he began to value education, learning the importance in gaining qualifications so as to achieve future employment aspirations. He stopped misusing drugs.

After a short spell on a plumbing course, where he achieved NVQ L2, Paul decided to move abroad for work. This lasted for a few years and is another example of his increased confidence and self-worth. He eventually returned home to complete a qualification in Hairdressing, a profession which he both loves and feels passionate about. Paul says the Pink Hairdryer was a positive omen.

Having met Paul, and now knowing his background, you could be forgiven for not knowing what he had witnessed as a child. This is further testament to his character and resilience and the support he has received over the years.

My amazing Social Worker – Alex.

“Alex went above and beyond”

After going into care, Paul was allocated a Social Worker called Alex. Like most Social Workers, Alex went above and beyond to support him. Paul speaks very highly of Alex, admitting that he could not fault her. Paul said that she helped support him and his brother at their time in need. He always felt listened too, was central to her decision making and believed she wanted the best for him. Whenever he needed advice, support or just someone to talk to, Alex was there. He felt like her only case – she was there when they did good things and not just when things didn’t go so well.

Paul is still in touch with Alex today.

Paul’s advice and guidance.

What advice would you give to anyone that is going through or has been through the Care System?  

“Don’t let you past define your future. Life is a journey and you are the master of your destiny. Yes, you will need help along the way, but the great thing about the future is that it’s not happened yet. Also, surround yourself with a positive support network. For me this was my Aunty. My brother and I were lucky to have such great support. My Aunty taught me right from wrong and I have a very special relationship with her now.”

What advice would you give Social Workers? 

“It’s all about the Child – please, never lose sight of this! My Social Worker was amazing and that’s because she was all about my brother and I. We felt central to what was going on around us. Also, make those that are in the care system, feel like they’re not in care and talk at a level so as it can be understood by them.”

What advice would you give to any Foster Carers?

“It’s not about the money. Foster Care is a difficult job and, yes, you should receive payment for it. But remember the best foster carers are those that go above and beyond to help others at their time in need. Also, you need to have patience. It won’t happen overnight and often there will be challenges and difficulties along the way. You need to be their rock!”

What would be you message to anyone reading this?

“Everyone is on a journey in this life. Some bad paths and some good paths, but it’s your choice which path you take. Things can get hard and things can be amazing but that’s life – it’s all about the ups and downs and how you deal with them. In other words, don’t let your past define your future. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support I received especially from my Aunty.”

We would like to thank Paul for his time in meeting with us here at One Stop Social. It was a hugely humbling experience and one that we shall never forget. There are many positive stories like this that start with some bad life experiences. Paul is a fantastic example of how you can achieve happiness through strong will and a loving and supportive network.

If you have a story you would like to share with us, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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Free downloadable direct resources, assessment and guidance handouts.

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