social work

New Year blog: learning from 2015; hopes for 2016

The blogs that I have written in 2015 show the shape of my year: January’s was on stress following a survey by Community Care; for world social work day in March I wrote about the importance to me of having a college of social work; May’s blog was about the election and its implications for social work; through the summer I wrote about the closure of the college and how we could take its legacy onwards; I finished up the year with a blog on motivation following the November spending review.

‘Don’t accept this narrative of failure – the college achieved a lot’

By Ruth Allen, Brigid Featherstone and Gerry Nosowska - chairs of the mental health, children’s and adults’ faculties of the College of Social Work

Now that some weeks have elapsed since the shock announcement that the College of Social Work (TCSW) is to close, as chairs of the three faculties we think it timely to offer our reflections on its achievements and legacy.

On a dark day, we need to be hopeful and proactive

A few months ago I wrote this blog about why a professional college for social work matters to me. Yesterday, I found out that the college of social work is to close because of lack of funding.

This news doesn’t change the reasons why a college matters to me:

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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:


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