Effective Practice Updates

What's occuring?

Published on 22nd August 2019

I haven't posted on this site for some time. However, I have been busy elsewhere.

Since June 2018, I have been Chair of the British Association of Social Workers. I write regular updates for BASW which you can find by searching 'Chair' here. 

I also regularly write for Research in Practice for Adults. My most recent blog is on critical reflection. 

And you can find all the Helpful Social Work podcasts here. 

Helping social workers be helpful

Published on 9th April 2018

Two years ago, Jo Fox and I started a podcast, Helpful Social Work. As we begin series 3, it is timely to reflect on our purpose.

Helpful Social Work aims to help social workers to learn, think and act with integrity so that people who need social work get help that will transform their lives. We started this podcast because social work matters to us. We see it as a crucial agent for liberty, equality and justice.

Our aim has always been to inspire people to consider how to be... Read full article

Totally Socially

Published on 19th March 2018

Today, 20 March, is World Social Work day.

This year emphasises ‘Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability’, which relates to the third pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.

The Agenda, created in 2012 after a global gathering of social workers, educators and development workers, sets out where we can and should make a difference to the world:

Promoting social and economic equalities Ensuring the dignity and worth of peoples... Read full article

Regulation, regulation, regulation

Published on 2nd March 2018

The government consultation on how the new social work regulator (Social Work England) will operate in England is open till 21 March. A few months ago, I discussed regulation in the Helpful Social Work podcast with Jo Fox. Here are some of my thoughts.

The vision for Social Work England is for a regulator that “focuses on public protection and supporting practice excellence” (page 11, Consultation document).  

I think that the true role of a regulator is public protection.... Read full article

What makes me a social worker?

Published on 28th June 2017

I am not a social worker because a regulator says that I am.

I signed up to be part of an international profession, with a global identity and ethics, and with a shared purpose that crosses national boundaries.

I studied with others who shared a commitment to this identity, ethics and purposes. I carried out work that enabled me to put these into practice. I continue to learn and develop so that I can do this better.

As it happens, I undertook a course approved in... Read full article

Keep hopeful; keep helpful

Published on 24th March 2017

I am finding that more and more conversations in social work are ethical conversations about how we do good work in a difficult context. I hear a great deal about struggle. And I find myself wondering how we can aspire when aspiration may not seem realistic.

Much of the work I do requires aspiration. It is about how we empower people, develop excellent practice, build support for social workers, and argue passionately and knowledgably for resources. Sometimes the choice seems to be to... Read full article

Our tenth podcasts, time to think about progress...

Published on 7th February 2017

What has happened in social work in the last year that felt like progress? What do we need to work on?


As our podcast, Helpful Social Work, comes up to a year old, Jo Fox and I look back on the last twelve months in social work.

We try and avoid thinking just about what’s different (change), and look for where things have got better (progress). There are positives, despite the difficult context, but a lot still to do.


Our ambition for the next year is... Read full article

Doing less with less

Published on 21st November 2016

In our latest podcast, Jo Fox and I unpick the idea that we can keep doing More with Less.

As cuts affect more and more people, evidence grows that we cannot maintain quality with less resource. We talk about how social workers can sustain ourselves and work ethically in the midst of cuts. We also consider how we can most effectively lobby for the resource that is needed for people to have good lives.

We argue that we cannot pretend that we can do everything. Instead we need to... Read full article

Not a luxury: new podcasts on support and supervision

Published on 27th October 2016

The latest podcasts from Jo Fox and me are on emotional containment and supervision.

The National Audit Office reported this month that “nationally the quality of help and protection for children is unsatisfactory and inconsistent, suggesting systemic rather than just local failure." The NAO highlighted that:

Social workers work in pressured circumstances that can sometimes lead to low morale, high vacancy and turnover rates, and a reliance on temporary staff. Ofsted has found... Read full article

New podcasts on social work relationships

Published on 28th September 2016

The latest podcasts from Jo Fox  and me are on relationships between social workers. The first is about relationships with colleagues, including group dynamics. The second is about social work as a single profession.

Relationships with colleagues – at work and across the profession – are a crucial source of support. Relationship comes from the Latin relatio meaning a narration or story. We think the story of social work relationships should be a positive and hopeful one. Some current... Read full article


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