social work

Why a professional college for social work matters to me

It’s World Social Work Day so a good time to reflect on why social work is important and what helps it to thrive. I’ve just become the chair of the Adults faculty of The College of Social Work so want to share my thoughts about what a professional college can and should do for social work.

Firstly, why is it important to have good social work?

What helps social workers feel less stressed?

In the safety announcement on planes, you are asked to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs. Social workers cannot help people effectively if they are overwhelmed themselves.

I am really sad to see the results from the Community Care survey about the level of stress that social workers are experiencing. Each response that highlights stress is someone struggling and worrying, often feeling very alone.

In workshops that I do with social care practitioners and managers people talk a lot about stress because of the amount of work they have to do, the complexity and unpredictability of the work, and the responsibility they feel. Here are some of the things that we discuss that might help you if you are stressed.

What’s the story, social work?

Social work seems to be in two minds at the moment. Is it a strong profession, recognised and valued? Or is it a struggling profession, overrun by work and affected by cuts?

I think it is a bit of both and that a tale about social work needs to tell both stories: a strengthening profession in increasingly difficult times. Social work has always worked at two levels: with individuals and with society. The way in which social workers support people is affected by the context.

What older people can do for social workers

Last week I wrote an article for Community Care about the College of Social Work’s aim to make social work with older people more valuable and more valued. This is why…


In the third week of my social work training I started a work placement in a hospice. Over the 50-day placement I learned about loss, life, death and strength. Older people shared their stories and wisdom with me, and I loved it.

Being kind

Recently in a workshop on supervision, I asked some new practitioners what their ideal supervisor would be like. ‘Kind’ was the first reply.

I consider that a bit more kindness in social care could help us all feel better and make more progress.

The word kind is linked to Old English gecynd, meaning nature, offspring, race. It relates to two important concepts: being natural and being alike.

A few reflections on Community Care Live

I have just attended Community Care Live 2014. It was incredibly refreshing simply to be in an environment where people were constantly discussing, thinking, arguing and considering. I also had the chance to hear some things that really struck me. Here are five of them:

Evidence, Evidence, Evidence

Two reports have recently been published about social work education. Sir Martin Narey’s report considers education for social workers in children’s services and Professor David Croisdale-Appleby’s review examines social work education in general but with a focus on adults’ services.

The debate on what social workers should do and how to prepare them for it is complex and changing. This is because it rests on two separate questions:

What can social workers offer?

The College of Social Work (TCSW) has just finished a consultation with members on its draft document on the roles and tasks that require social workers.

This is an important step in the discussion about the value of social work that has been going on through initiatives like TCSW’s Business case for social work with adults and Research in Practice for Adults’ Manifesto on the value of adult social work.


Who supervises the Minister?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about supervision lately for various projects: how supervisors can deliver good supervision; how supervisees can get what they need from supervision; how organisations can embed reflective supervision that is purposeful.


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