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Social Work and Society Political and Ideological Perspectives

Co-edited and co-written by  Ian Cummins, Salford University, and Sarah Pollock, Manchester Metropolitan University.

It is essential that social work students understand the lasting impact political decision making can have on service users, yet little guidance exists on this subject. This valuable book provides a comprehensive introduction to politics in social work, unifying the themes of political ideology and social construction across several areas of social work practice, including emerging areas of practice. The book:

  • Introduces the dominant political ideologies in the UK;
  • Examines the impact of these ideological perspectives on different demographic groups;
  • Explores emerging areas of growing political interest such as radicalisation;
  • Employs case studies and examples from practice to aid student understanding.

Including helpful key points to guide reading at the beginning of each chapter, as well as exercises for seminars and further reading recommendations, this text will be an invaluable resource to all students in social work.

Greater Manchester Delivery of an Adult Social Work Practice Supervisors Development and Assessment Pathway.

Overview

Julie Lawrence was a member of the national Design and Development Working Group coordinated by Skills for Care throughout 2018-2019. The group consisted of senior staff across England. A valuable member was Professor Jan Fook who offered advice and guidance about the development of a suitable practice supervisor pathway, for social workers based within adult services.   

New Pilot Initiative in Adult Services

During 2018 Skills for Care supported a number of early Implementation Sites across England. The key message was to ‘test out’ the design and development of the evolving supervisor pathway over a six to twelve month period.

In Greater Manchester this included Bury and Trafford Local Authorities. Colleagues from MMU supported both implementation sites during this phase of the pathway development. This pathway is a portfolio based route to meet the required standards. 

Skills for Care have since coordinated a new National External Moderation Panel to support this work and it is planned to take place on Wednesday January 8 2020 in London. Julie Lawrence will be attending the panel meeting on behalf of the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy (GMSWA).

The GMSWA has supported the local development (GM) of a suitable supervisor pathway since 2018. Funding was provided to validate the importance of this national development. Implementation of the pathway is on-going at incremental stages across GM and England.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council (TMBC)

Anna Jenkins (PSW) and Julie Lawrence (UoS) have negotiated a series of workshops for the benefit of a small group of staff who are interested in becoming a Practice Supervisor. The workshops have been created to firstly, inform staff and secondly, to enhance knowledge and skills. The workshops are focused upon the post-qualifying standards, which were published by the Department of Health and Social Care in December, 2018.

The pilot will be on-going throughout 2020. The intention is to encourage staff to build upon their supervisory experiences and create quality and effective experiences for themselves and the staff they supervise. This will ultimately have a positive impact upon the local residents of Tameside, in terms of providing Adult services which are appropriate to meet individual and family needs.

National Developments

There are also new open access videos from Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults and Gerry Nosowska, Chair of BASW, which aim to support the implementation of the Train the Trainer Supervisor Development Programme.
Here is the link:
https://www.ripfa.org.uk/latest-news/open-access-resources-to-support-the-train-the-trainer-%E2%80%93-supervisor-development-programme/

Contact for more information:

Julie Lawrence: j.lawrence@salford.ac.uk  | Anna Jenkins: anna.jenkins@tameside.gov.uk

Mindfulness Course Huge Success | University of Salford

The course was facilitated by The University of Salford and funnded by GMSWA. The overall aim was to teach newly qualified social workers mindfulness techniques which would help them to develop resilience in their social work practice. Each day could be accessed as a stand alone day. Over 50 social workers attended across the 6 days, each day had a different theme.

Course Content – Mindfulness course 30th April – 4th June 2019

30th April – Mindfulness and Social Work Practice

7th May – Being in the Moment /Moments in Practice

14th May – Body Awareness / Stress management

21st May – Maintaining Good Mental Health

28th May – Understanding Emotional Intelligence

4th June – Exploring Crisis / difficult practice

Each day participants completed a reflective evaluation from which it could be seen that mindfulness attitudes and ways of thinking had begun to take hold. A few were committed to meditation daily, with many attempting to balance their work life with time at home and with family. There appears to be a consciousness of space and time, so that they no longer allowed work to encroach on family time. There was also an increase in self-care with many taking 3-minute breathing spaces at work, and others creating time to take a lunch break.

Many techniques and strategies were practiced on the course and those who attended more than once reported which they were using these both at home and at work. They reported that they were doing assessments, writing reports, undertaking visits etc more mindfully. They were able to notice when they were not giving their full attention to service users or in meetings and bring their attention back to the present moment. They said they were using the techniques to deal with unwholesome thoughts, of excess worry and anxiety. There was a sense of optimism about difficult practice and mess. That they could handle this and learn from it, “The messier the situation the better the learning.” One or two felt it was a key component of how they would practice going forward. One wrote “It allowed me to just “be” in my life and this has changed my entire view on life and how I live

All participants had qualified within the last 2 years and a number commented on how training in mindfulness techniques and activities impacted their “being” and “becoming” a social worker?

“Helped me to reflect on difficult situations whilst reducing the amount of time I dwell on them. Identify nourishing activities helped me to have opportunities for relaxation. These will help me to have a good work life balance and take time out for myself.” 

“I am able to have more control over my thoughts.”

“It has grounded me, teaching me to focus on the present. I’ve been less stressed as a result. I have not been thinking what if as much (catastrophising).”

“Definitely my “being” I’m less reactive in stressful situations at work, love me more, focus time with families, and visit the families with a quite mind. Just to be and the things will always pass.”

“Being more mindful in my working day is allowing me to be more focused and present in my conversations/interactions with others or self-aware of my own emotions my thoughts and feelings.”

The course appears to have met its aim as noted by participants in their comments on the overall course.

“-This course has supported me to make lots of positive changes in my work/personal life.

-I found this program very engaging and it has given me a more positive mindset to help me in a difficult profession.

-The mindfulness course has been really helpful to me in developing my emotional resilience in social work. I feel my emotions are more balanced, I’m leaning into the discomfort and I’m enjoying the gratitude practices.”

Rochdale’s World Social Work Day Celebrations

Every community has a day that they get to take stock of their work and mark their successes. For social workers, it’s of course World Social Work Day. Last week, Tuesday 19th March was World Social Work Day 2019, and all week, partners across GMSWA held events to bring together their teams and embody the theme set by the International Federation of Social Workers, of “Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships”.

Rochdale Council had a whole series of different ways in which they celebrated World Social Work Day, both internally and with their external community. Rochdale chose to go down a more digital approach to their festivities, by creating videos with two of their social workers and their Principal Social Worker. This content was then promoted across Twitter, so that friends, colleagues and interested parties could see the passion practitioners in Rochdale have for social work and their roles. These videos got over 1000 views on Twitter, showing just how Rochdale was able to engage with the external community and highlight the social work profession across social media. The work didn’t stop there, as they also raised money to purchase non-perishable food items and toiletries for their internal stock to support people in times of crisis.

The Rochdale team also got 3 social workers interviewed on Revolution Radio, where they discussed their role and the value that World Social Work Day has within the community. It’s great to hear from practitioners why it actually is important to have a day dedicated to the professionals who work with our vulnerable members of society, as they are usually the first to avoid personal acclaim.

They even managed a ‘celeb’ endorsement, as Lyn Romeo (Chief Social Worker, Adults) provided the following quote for them!

Above all, they made sure that within the GMSWA, social workers were aware of the celebrations and importance of World Social Work Day with internal emails and communications, and a news piece in the GMSWA newsletter. After all, it’s great for the rest of the world to mark WSWD, but it’s vital that practitioners themselves are the ones being involved in any activities and benefiting from the positivity of the day.

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Return to Social Work

The University of Manchester and the University of Salford delivered two separate training courses for social work practitioners who needed to update their practice in order to re-register with HCPC. UoM ran the course in January and February and UoS in February and March. The courses were funded by GMSWA for social workers living within Greater Manchester (GM) and /or social workers wanting to practice in GM after they had re-registered with HCPC. The course was intended to encourage experienced social workers to come back into practice in a supported way. The course consisted of 5 days university input and 10 days on practice placement at local authorities across GM.

UoM recruited 10 candidates who were all qualified social workers but who had been out of practice between 2 – 5 years and so needed to update their practice to re-register with HCPC. Candidates were from Children and Families and Adults backgrounds. UoS decided to broaden the time restrictions so that they were able to offer places to more students. They offered 28 places and some of these candidates had been out of practice more than 5 years. It will be helpful now to look as a partnership at the pros and cons of working with the broader or narrower practice timescale.

The course consisted of five facilitated workshops in the University. Day One explored changes in current practice and experienced social work practitioners came along as part of a practice panel to answer questions and give candidates the benefit of their frontline current experience. This worked well at enabling candidates to know what they didn’t know and what they needed to find out more about. Day Two was focused on updating candidates on changes in legislation and policy across social work areas. Day 3 was a day of simulation where actors were employed and candidates practiced undertaking safeguarding interviews. The interviews were taped and detailed feedback and discussion took place after the interviews to explore what had gone well and other ways candidates might have approached the issues. Candidates then went out on 10 day practice placements. 

All placements had a mentor provided who supported the candidates and offered supervision to enable the candidates to get the most out of their time in the agencies. Candidates then came back to the University on Day 4 and discussed their experience and learning from their practice placements. All students gave a presentation on their experiences and crucially on what changes they had seen in practice and what they had learnt. Day 5 was our final day on Employability. Employers from several agencies across GM came along and did mock interviews with candidates as they would have done if they were interviewing for jobs. Candidates also had the opportunity to ask employers questions and were given detailed feedback on their interview performance.

Both courses were highly evaluated and effectively prepared students for their return to practice.. At UoM candidates said they had experienced fantastic learning and 100% of candidates rated the course as excellent. One person commented ‘The whole unit was incredibly valuable. Within the second week of placement, I had secured a permanent position. I am certain this would have taken much longer without this course’

Out of the 10 candidates we recruited by UoM we know that 5 already have new social work related jobs in GM. UoS also had very positive evaluations and the results of these are currently being processed.

Our evaluation overall is that both courses met their aims. We created a learning package which was through and effective in supporting people back into the workplace. The courses worked excellently in partnership with employers who were vital partners in enabling the learning to be truly authentic and helped prepare the candidates well. We are looking forward to running the course again later this year and have already received many enquiries.

Colleagues from UoM and UoS who ran the Return to Social Work courses are now keen to evaluate the experience further and to consult now with candidates who have started work, with employers who provided placements and employers who are now employing the Return to Social Work candidates. We will keep us all updated!
Pat Cartney

Service User and Carer Involvement

In the past 12 months the GMSWA has made considerable efforts to involve SUCs There is representation on the Governance Board and the Executive Board. The Public Involvement Board was established (the service users and carers forum) and there are opportunities for service users and carers to be involved in all the planning groups and work streams.

A key issue for me is whether the GMSWA is meeting the challenge of meaningfully involving individuals. This is going to be even more testing with the likely restrictions on spending. It is difficult to avoid the usual problems where carers and service users can feel they are on the periphery with many discussions going over their heads with some topics appearing irrelevant or difficult to understand. Barriers include complex language, unfamiliar concepts and the use of acronisms.

These issues have affected the Public Involvement Board as well as other meetings even though the Chairperson has excellent communication skills and has a flair for engaging individuals. Another challenge is involving a wide enough range of different experiences amongst the carers and users of services, including underrepresented groups.

Key questions include: are users of services and carers helping to set the GMSWA Agenda or is this solely set by the professionals with carers and service users responding? Also are there opportunities for carers and service users to have in depth discussions on the issues that are important to them. Having an agenda item such as ? service user issues? at all meetings should help to focus on ways of consulting and involving service users more effectively but perhaps more needs to be done to ensure that service user involvement has a positive effect on developments and outcomes.

Terry Williams – Member of the Public Involvement Board and new Member of the Executive Board

Greater Manchester Practice Educator Conference 2019

Members of the Social Work Directorate were also thrilled to contribute to the planning and delivery of the first Greater Manchester Practice Educator Conference this year called, ‘Building relationships in practice learning’, which was held on 28th February 2019.

The Practice Learning Team from The University of Salford were out in force to share the good news about their recent publication LISTENING TO BLACK STUDENTS… A CRITICAL REVIEW OF PRACTICE EDUCATION a chapter written by Su McCaughan, Gabi Hesk and Andrea Stanley  in the book, ‘Innovations in Practice Learning’ published by Critical Publishing, this was one of the books offered to attendees as a gift at the conference.  Social Work lecturer Su McCaughan one of the contributors to the chapter, also ran a workshop with the editor of the book Sue Taplin.

Former students from The University of Salford, Bright Mude, Winnie Ebockayuk, Olamide Osunnuga and Vee Manyonda from the Social Work course at Salford who are all qualified social workers and now all working in GMSWA except for Winnie who works for Birmingham LA ,  were there to discuss their placement challenges, solutions and progression for Black social work students.

Also in attendance was Dr Suryia Nayak a senior lecturer from the Social Work Directorate at University of Salford, who was a guest keynote speaker, Suryia was instrumental in the research which was used to underpin the chapter mentioned above, along with Allison Coleman. Her keynote was entitled: ‘Intersectionality will revolutionise the experience and outcome of practice educators supporting social work students in practice’.

A great event led by our colleagues from Trafford and involving all GMSWA colleagues, and the Practice Learning Team are lucky to have been invited to participate again in the 2020 GMSWA PE Conference, which we look forward to being part of.

GMSWA Vision and Launch Stage 3

On Tuesday 22nd of May, the Greater Manchester Social Work Academy had a look at what stage they are currently at in securing further funding until March 2019. They are currently working on ensuring the work they do can be sustained post-funding.

So, who are GMSWA?

The prime aim for GMWSA is to increase social work standards across Adult, Children and Mental Health Social Work Service. Collectively, employers and Universities are working together to recruit, educate, retain, and continue to develop the best calibre of social workers across Greater Manchester.

Stage 2 Key Achievements

The second stage showed innovation, reform and the driving up of standards. This was evidenced by:

  • Centres of Excellence – areas of social work needed focus on were led by employers, in order to improve standards across the whole of Greater Manchester.
  • GMWSA’s expansion – the collaboration of the three biggest Universities (Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Manchester and University of Salford) to work on the reform agenda and drive up standards.
  • GMSWA held the first National Project Managers Forum and worked with South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership to establish it into Stage 2.
  • Completing all their case studies and capturing the impact of what GMSWA is trying to achieve!
  • Producing the Work Force Data analysis – this was a challenge but a great achievement as they attained a formal document which was presented and considered at GMWA’s Governance Board.
  • The biggest achievement – being awarded Stage 3!

Key priorities and milestones

  • Interim Evaluation to be submitted to the Department for Education by June.
  • A full evaluation to be submitted to DfE by March 2019.
  • To prepare for Return to Social Work Courser to be on offer from September 2018.
  • Development of CPD programme – to begin in autumn.
  • SLA’s for placements to address capacity issue and reduce pressure in the system.
  • To harness role of Principal Social Worker to capture more innovation.
  • Election of chair roles and agree the role of PM.

Sustainability – How will the partnership continue post funding?

GMSWA’s key objectives are to ultimately be a mature and intelligent partnership which thrives on challenge and is responsive to the needs of employers. They are strong in wanting students to be prepared and supported of the world of work and to ultimately develop to be out future Practice Leaders.

How will GMSWA achieve these objectives?

  • Working together to have a GM approach to National Assessment and Accreditation System
  • Apprenticeships – a range of routes that support and ensure GMSWA attract and benefit from the best people.
  • Legally binding agreements
  • Recruitment/Progress fairs

Sustainability – Governance

To strengthen current governance arrangements, the Governance Board and Executive board are to meet quarterly – work streams to meet every six weeks.

Chair meetings – Identify roles and responsibilities, set and agenda in consultation with the PM and meeting the milestones set out in the work plan.

Vision

To create a sustainable model that promotes; recruitment, development of retention of social workers across the Greater Manchester Area.