Effective Practice Updates

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

Published on 13th August 2015

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.

We feel a degree of urgency about this task for two reasons. Firstly, a narrative is emerging in some quarters... Read full article

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

Published on 19th June 2015

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:

It provides a collective voice for who we are - social workers get to decide what our professional identity is and the values we will work to; we need to work together to agree on these and to be clear about who we are... Read full article

How to be a social worker under this government

Published on 14th May 2015

I’ve just come back from Community Care Live – a big national conference for social workers. Two days of learning, discussing and being around social care people has given me a lot of time to think about what the election result means and how social work should respond. There’s a lot to be concerned about in this government’s plans: a further £12 billion in welfare cuts; reducing the benefit cap by a further £3000; scrapping the human rights act. And this is after five years of cuts, in... Read full article

Why a professional college for social work matters to me

Published on 17th March 2015

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?

Good social work matters because it helps people, who would otherwise lack the resources to manage, maintain or restore their lives.... Read full article

What helps social workers feel less stressed?

Published on 7th January 2015

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... Read full article

What’s the story, social work?

Published on 19th December 2014

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.

... Read full article

What makes a trustworthy assessment?

Published on 29th October 2014

I have just completed an 18-month project with Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) to produce resources to help assessors carry out good assessments.

The main issue that I found was that all assessments have to be different - because people are different, yet we need to know that any assessment is good enough against some kind of universal standard.

So how do you know when an assessment can be trusted?

The RiPfA project looked at assessment research, theory and law.... Read full article

What older people can do for social workers

Published on 22nd September 2014

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.

I was one of the few on my course who chose to do social work with older... Read full article

Best advice for leaders

Published on 8th August 2014

There is a lot being written about leadership in social care at the moment. This is the best advice I have ever seen. It was written for me by my dad (a former management trainer) when I became a manager of other managers.


“You will be expected to be on top of your job and to have ideas. Your job is to meet your expectations and constantly seek out and argue for better ways of doing things, and even different things to be doing.


The old truths still apply:... Read full article

Being kind

Published on 11th July 2014

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.

Using our innate humanity to relate to others is a central part of social work... Read full article


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