Helpful Social Work: from 1 idea to 150,000 listens

Helpful Social Work celebrates 150,000 downloads across the UK and the world.

“Perfect while cooking, or walking the dog, to keep my mind on what I need to be thinking about to make me a better social worker.”

This is one of our favourite comments about Helpful Social Work. It captures so much of what we aim to do (and what we get out of the podcast ourselves).

Perfect while cooking, or walking the dog

When we started in 2016, there were very few social work podcasts in the UK. We had been working together for a while, doing workshops and writing about social work. We hoped that through a podcast we could reach more people and have a bigger conversation. These days, around 2000-3000 people listen to us each month; half in the UK and the rest around the world. We love to think of you driving, exercising and pottering whilst we sit with you and reflect together.

Our favourite podcasts for moving around to are the ones that capture our aspiration that social work’s potential will be fulfilled.

Try: Series 1 and Series 2 on the ecosystem around social work; Series 4 on big issues that social workers can act on; and Series 5, episode 1a on the Ingredients of a social worker.

To keep my mind on what I need to be thinking about

Social workers have precious little time (and what we have is truly precious) for thinking about what we do. There is so much noise and business in social work that we need to fight through to a place where we can understand ourselves, our responses, and how we can be helpful.

We try to focus in on topics through exploring definitions – what we mean, evidence – what we experience, and practice – what we have learned. Each time, we uncover a new treasure that we can hang onto in our next pressured encounter. We hope that you do too.

Our favourite podcasts for being still to are the ones that home in on the essence of social work.

Try: our first ever podcast which was on Integrity; Series 3 on the social work journey; Series 4 on social work through the life-course; and episodes on the use of self in Series 7.

To make me a better social worker

Between us, we have been qualified for over 50 years. But we still feel like learners as the world changes and shifts around us. These series have pushed the edges of our comfort zone a long way. Every time we talk, we find gaps in our understanding and wonder why we have these, and we stitch together a bit more knowledge about our human world.

We have had to sit with the discomfort of our ignorance and assumptions. We hope we have done some justice to the topics and enabled you to catch something new or something to be confident in each time your listen.

Our favourite podcasts for making us grow as social workers are the ones where we delve into the depths of social work’s human rights role.

Try: Series 5 b podcasts on Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and Politics; and Series 6 on the Equality Act.

Every year, as we do episode 10b, our annual review, we are grateful for the experiences we’ve had in making the podcasts. And we look forward in hope to another year of social workers going out there and acting with integrity.

Thank you for listening

Gerry and Jo

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