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Social Work and Media Inaugural Debate on 18 October 2011


First and foremost we would like to thank all those who participated in our inaugural debate and made it such a resounding success.

The Social work/social care practitioners, students, academics, campaigners, journalists, policy makers and organisations including advocacy groups came together on Tuesday night (18 October 2011) for the first live social work Twitter debate hosted by Social Work and Media Network (@SWSCmedia).

This was our inaugural debate and the official launch of our regular fortnightly events which offer a shared open online space dedicated to social work/social care. These debates are presented in partnership with our sponsors: Goldsmiths University of London, The Open University, and The University of East London.

We selected Twitter as the medium of communication for our debates, as it enables an unstructured and non-linear approach to discussion and allows for a more dynamic debate. This sustains a process more similar to a mind-map rather than a flowchart which enables us to ensures maximum interaction/engagement and a more creative approach to knowledge generation. Giving voice to all participants simultaneously is empowering while it encourages lateral thinking resulting in more creative and innovative ideas/solutions.

The debate began by @SWSCmedia welcoming all participants and thanking all the sponsors and special guests for the evening, followed by the first question for the evening which was: “What is the role of social work in our society?” The pursuing discussion was dynamic and rich with ideas.

In fact, given the diversity and importance of the views and points raised we decided to include many of the tweets in this blog to offer a resource for further development and future reference. These do not include all the tweeted message during the debate, however, they capture most of the points raised during the discussions.

The responses to our first questions were:

BASW_UK BASW

at anti-slavery event today where yp recounted not so good experiences with sws. This has to change. SW must be reclaimed.#swscmedia

444blackcat bc

#swscmedia agreed struggle to explain role to public but because it contains so many variables they know what a nurse doc teacher does

Ermintrude2 Moo

For me, what makes social work unique are the values associated with it #swscmedia

BASW_UK BASW

@SWSCmedia always start with the preface that social work is a human rights profession #swscmedia

Keet84 Ben Keetley

Don’t all professions believe they are uniquely misunderstood?#swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

#swscmedia Social work should not be solely defined by the state – it should not be defined solely by its statutory functions

@Keet84 #swscmedia work in MH ppl know what medics do they r seen as caring we often seen as controling

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia social work is often associated with negative e life events. As a profession we don’t celebrate the positives.

BASW_UK BASW

we are all ambassadors for the profession and have to raise our heads above the parapet. Not always easy! #swscmedia

DrCBernard Claudia Bernard

@SWSCmedia @GoldsmithUoL principles of social justice should b @ the heart of SW

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

#swscmedia The role as practised now feels as though it has almost lost the human rights, community development, advocacy aspects it had

NickBerbiers Nick Berbiers

As professions go we are still young and inchoate. We are still ‘becoming’…#swscmedia

DanielLombard Daniel Lombard

#SWSCmedia to work with people, support them to overcome difficulties in their lives and reach their full potential, safeguard their welfare

444blackcat bc

#swscmedia might be useful if we had a oath type principle like Do no harm?

ProfSocialWork From The Gut

@OLMSYSTEMS @SWSCmedia agree, important point but that judgement is difficult #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia SW feels very forensic. A lot of the inspection and regulation has driven this shift

TalkSocialWork Susan Kelly

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia agree- very different to the way I was trained in the 80’s which was more about social change & community work

DamoRobson Damien Robson

@444blackcat @Keet84 are MH medics not seen as controlling an SW more concerned with advoc and Human Rights? who r drugs for? #swscmedia

DementiaView Chris Edgerton

@SWSCmedia A social worker – a broker between a client and the doing professionals #swscmedia

mithransamuel Mithran Samuel

#SWSCmedia Should social workers be trying to change society or helping people make the most of their lives under the status quo?

BASW_UK BASW

@mithransamuel isn’t social work so diverse that it can be all of these things depending on time, place, context? #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@jaxrafferty Agreed – statutory functions have taken over. These aspects of our work need to be reclaimed #swscmedia

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia i agree that the practice in many places has prioritised statutory role over HR com dev and international practice

TalkSocialWork Susan Kelly

Internat Federation of SW says “The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving.. &empowerment and liberation” #swscmedia

444blackcat bc

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia hard to keep those aspects going wen faced wth endless tickboxes n reports assessments more crisis work than planned

Ermintrude2 Moo

#swscmedia important not just to define SW by statutory functions. Much happens outside stat work

AmandaClement1 Mandy Clement

#swscmedia as a 1st year student I was surprised at the amount of control as opposed to care work that SW undertakes

ukequality Donald Macaskill

#swscmedia in reality how many students get human rights training ?

TalkSocialWork Susan Kelly

Is the ‘control’ function different between adult services and childrens’ services? #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@mithransamuel @Ermintrude2 #swscmedia Co-production with ‘users’ sets us apart. we should both support change and support people now

ukequality Donald Macaskill

#swscmedia in old days social workers worked alongside community ed staff they have gone

tashawhitstable natasha

Has community role been lost? Social Work per se is not just about ‘job’ #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

I think we should try to change, or at very lease encourage others to see beyond their own position #swscmedia @mothransamuel

ukequality Donald Macaskill

#swscmedia is Personslisation seen as threat or promise? Recent community care poll suggests negative view

mgoat73 Martin Webber

We can get involved initiatives for social change such as@TimetoChange as well as support people facing discrimination #swscmedia

This was followed by the second question:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

A major theme seems to be lack of sufficient involvement… & also more fundamental Q of #HumanRights & #SocialJustice #swscmedia

Therefore, my question then is: does #socialwork still aspire to achieve social change and greater social justice? or are statutory social workers an agent of “social regulation” by the state? #swscmedia

Some of the responses were:

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@bonklesoul We need to develop evidence base about effective social interventions based on values as a counter-balance to this #swscmedia

NickBerbiers Nick Berbiers

More statutes = less community / advocacy work. That seems to be the history. Our other roles got squeezed out #swscmedia

BASW_UK BASW

@Ermintrude2 @SWSCmedia I wonder how many people have this kind of discussion in their supervision!! #swscmedia

DanielLombard Daniel Lombard

wonder if DH proposals to diversify the care market will lead to more emphasis on independent care brokers, reducing the sw role #swscmedia

Ermintrude2 Moo

@DanielLombard I think it’s a possibility but we need to move away from SW as care management/provision/brokerage #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@mgoat73 Agreed, but is there a desire among some organisations to do so, or is this seen as current direction of travel #swscmedia

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia to support social change, does SW need support of prof bodies, government & regulators to legitimise this function?

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

See a shift similar to health – where less professionally qualified carry out most roles specially in adult care. Deeply worrying #swscmedia

Keet84 Ben Keetley

@ukequality can’t speak for other unis but uni of Sheffield has a large HR focus #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@ukequality In doing so they allow the profession to develop in a prescribed direction. I remember paying striking miners! #swscmedia #proud

ukequality Donald Macaskill

#swscmedia are we in danger of slipping back to the pre social work order only this time charity replaces the churches?

Some participants expressed concerns about lack of training:

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia agreed especially given lack of training sometimes lack necessary skills and devalue profession

While others were concerned with appropriate representation for social work profession:

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia SW do not have a profession focused Union like teachers. The other professional bodies are not visual enough plus expensive.

In response to the question:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

But, How can we reconcile the quest for social justice with the economic desire for cheaper and cheaper packaged services? #swscmedia

There was were many more diverse and insightful tweets:

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@bonklesoul SW lacks its own evidence base in MH services. This will help to define its identity as not just a sectioning service #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@mgoat73 Developing such an evidence base requires a commitment. Do LA’s have / want such a commitment? #swscmedia

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

Social Work Reform Board work supported by past and present governments but contradiction between words and resource allocation #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@jaxrafferty Agreed, sadly true, will inevitably create hierarchies. Not what SW should be about at all #swscmedia

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

So have to dispense with the ‘golden age’ or continue to work towards claiming it back? #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@jaxrafferty Yes I speak to lots of social care workers doing SW roles. Perhaps SW needs to identify with and lead this practice? #swscmedia

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

#swscmedia needs to be recognition that 1 skilled (higher paid) worker can br more effective than 2 lesser paid lesser skilled workers etc

Keet84 Ben Keetley

@DamoRobson @444blackcat I think with inc in law-suit culture medics in general will feel more misunderstood and challenged #swscmedia

There was also discussion in relation to social work and social workers’ interaction and relationship with other professions:

444blackcat bc

@mgoat73 @bonklesoul #swscmedia we have some like psychosocial interventions hijacked by health as their new idea

Nushra Mansouri from BASW emphasised that social workers must stand for their values and assert themselves:

BASW_UK BASW

@Ermintrude2 You and me both! We have to assert ourselves as this is about cultivating a strong prof id #swscmedia

It was good to see some participants call on others to join the debate and to participate:

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@jaimeelewis @gdnsocialcare @darcyboy1 @swscmedia search for #swscmedia and follow discussion and contribute to debate on now

DamoRobson Damien Robson

@ProfSocialWork @mgoat73 @CollegeofSW @BASW_UK here here #swscmedia

The discussions continued with further rich exchange of opinions:

TalkSocialWork Susan Kelly

I’d like to see more direct partnerships btwn Unis and Councils/3rd Sector orgs on research priorities RT @Ermintrude2@mgoat73#swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia as a profession we shouldn’t accept that SW registration is to be overseen by health professional body.We have different values.

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

@tashawhitstable Oh yes – agent of change too – here is an internal consistency in roles and it is political as well as values #swscmedia

444blackcat bc

@jaxrafferty #swscmedia never believed in golden age but maybe we should go back to generic teams rather than the fields we have now

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@444blackcat Exactly my point! Too many psychologists do this and take it as their own eg family interventions for psychosis #swscmedia

Then we raised the question of dual mandate and its challenges:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

What do U think about the difficulty due to dual mandate of social work? do U think this may have caused misunderstanding of sw? #swscmedia

albroon albroon

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia as a forensic inpatient sw I feel the involvement in control allows strong advocacy for rights & therapeutic support

DamoRobson Damien Robson

@Keet84 @444blackcat I though part of the role of SW was to challenge and work within those tensions btwn servcs #swscmedia

copperbird copperbird

@mgoat73 Shouldn’t we be pleased if our interventions catch on with others, rather than arguing about who has ownership of idea? #swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia we need to keep our own distinct professional identity. We need to regain our ground-demand that only qualified SWs can cont

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

Perhaps SW should be proud that other professions adopting SW methods and approaches? #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@SWSCmedia @jaxrafferty We should expect SW to “lift the rock and look underneath” There is a role in seeking deeper meaning #swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@SWSCmedia And in doing so reach more thougthul and challeinging conclusions. We need to establish ourselves as the questionners #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@bonklesoul I don’t see orgs preoccupied with bureacuracy wanting it, but there is lots of interest amongst practitioners #swscmedia

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

#swscmedia how many social workers use the phrase “jack of all trades master of none” this needs to change

Keet84 Ben Keetley

@tashawhitstable at Shef uni they’ve challenged us to consdr if we’re agents of change or control without giving a steer.Thoughts?#swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@mgoat73 Agreed, the question is how do we harness it? I left an organisation for exactly that reason, too much paper!! #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@copperbird Agreed, we shouldn’t be territorial over it. It’s important to share effective practice #swscmedia

Then the next question was about the image of social work and social workers:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

A myriad of problems: But, Q is: Are social workers such a consistent failure or is social work the easiest “Social Scapegoat”? #swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia cont deliver good SW practice to vulnerable service-users. The gov’t is set to have SW delivered by unqualified voluntary sector

ProfSocialWork From The Gut

@BASW_UK @SWSCmedia The problem is we cant really articulate who we r because no one is listening. SW top down & management lead #swscmedia

Ermintrude2 Moo

@SWSCmedia we are easy to target as often social work contains political agendas #swscmedia

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

@bonklesoul @mgoat73 agreed, the most skilled and trained workers spend the least ammount of time with clients!! #swscmedia

444blackcat bc

@copperbird @mgoat73 #swscmedia recognition would b good dont care about ownership SW should always b eclectic mix

BASW_UK BASW

@tashawhitstable @jenipurpleness The beauty of international definition is that is doesn’ shackle social work. #swscmedia

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia at some point SW must become active in constructing their own identity not merely following prescribed roles

tashawhitstable natasha

@keet84 agreed but this is where individuality comes in and reflective practice/ values. Question everything, even self #swscmedia

mithransamuel Mithran Samuel

#SWSCmedia The media – @CommunityCare excepted of course! – seem to scapegoat sws as a proxy for scapegoating the people you work with.

BASW_UK BASW

@ProfSocialWork @SWSCmedia think we have to wrestle the power back from employers after all they have a vested interest. #swscmedia

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

#swscmedia must lead to more proffessionals being proud of their proffessionals. How many admit to being SWer when socialising?

Theresauno Theresa Gallacher

@jenipurpleness Unqualified voluntary sector already do provide a lot of aspects of social work / social care #swscmedia

DamoRobson Damien Robson

@SWSCmedia SWs often have a bad rep (child catcher characature) direct discrim experienced as a SW student #swscmedia

One participant thought that defining the role of social work may restrict it:

tashawhitstable natasha

@jenipurpleness surely SW is so broad and workers can help in so many areas that defining profession restricts it #swscmedia

While others challenged the naming and transformation of the professions:

DementiaView Chris Edgerton

@SWSCmedia What’s in a name, Nurse in the 70’s to Health Worker today … Social Worker in the 70’s to “what” today? #SWSCmedia

An important point was raised with regards to social work’s relative positioning with respect to other professions:

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@mgoat73 @jaxrafferty #swscmedia another side to this coin – many advocacy, policy, research, com dev roles are not being taken on by SW

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@SWSCmedia I don’t think social work is ‘selfless’. We all have needs and must be aware of this – hence need for reflection #swscmedia

albroon albroon

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia in NZ neo liberal contract environment means lots of services are 3rd party but SWs are highly involved in those orgs

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia we need to challeng limited vision of SW and look at ourselves in a wider social context

BASW_UK BASW

@ProfSocialWork @SWSCmedia Have to create our own power base and solid partnerships with service users. #swscmedia

BASW_UK BASW

@Jonnyhoyle1 but we do have power and need to act on that otherwise we give it away. ( a service user told us that one AGM) #swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

@Jonnyhoyle1 #swscmedia a unifying professional body is needed to contain all our differences, our unity, our creativity & our ideals.

DamoRobson Damien Robson

@SWSCmedia should social workers strive to become obsolete? #swscmedia

There were also other interesting view points for instance:

vickydixon Pumpkin

@ProfSocialWork MA SW Stu & Biz grad: ‘Im in it for prog 2 mgmt, most SW want frontline so less competition for ‘good jobs’ #swscmedia #argh

The final question of the evening was:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

Final question for tonight is: How can we establish and sustain a more engaged and positive role and identity for social workers? #swscmedia

albroon albroon

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia current student says theres huge disconnection between radicalism of SWcourse and media fearing anti risk practice

Ermintrude2 Moo

@SWSCmedia advocating and engaging better with those who use our services. Building alliances. Being political and confident #swscmedia

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

MT @jenipurpleness@Jonnyhoyle1 #swscmedia a unifying professional body is needed < Agree absolutely but unification seems hard to achieve!

copperbird copperbird

@SWSCmedia We need to see more of the successes, but also people in general to see more of the social issues. We need a brian cox #swscmedia

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia more ownership of proffesion, better media relations, greater identity and professional pride!

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@SWSCmedia #swscmedia we need to be prepared to stand up for and encourage diversity within our roles and practice

ProfSocialWork From The Gut

Hierarchy in SW kills SW & our role. Very little professional freedom & we need to rebuild and rethink our profession. #swscmedia

Theresauno Theresa Gallacher

@jenipurpleness Yr ryt isn’t always best practice howeva isn’t always the worst either Is not the ideal but is the current state #swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia good points raise about importance of challenging & reflective supervision. We should always demand it.

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@SWSCmedia Engage with the @CollegeofSW professional networks to help form identity #swscmedia

DrCBernard Claudia Bernard

@SWSCmedia by equipping students/practitioners with critical tools

socworktidbits socialworktidbits

What is a “positive identity”? If how we identify it needs to be reflective. Hard. But if how we’re perceived, even harder. #swscmedia

The debate was extended by 15 minutes due to the large number of DMs received requesting for an extension of the debate. Therefore, the discussion continued:

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@copperbird Yes, and to see how good SW actually addresses social problems effectively #swscmedia

vickydixon Pumpkin

in a vol agency that is being ‘restructured’ – code for getting out ‘carers’ & getting in ‘managers’ – how can we feel powerful? #swscmedia

444blackcat bc

#swscmedia if all want unified body how do we get there track record not good

albroon albroon

wider Forums and Reflective Practice groups could be revived & more connection between Uni’s and local practitioners@SWSCmedia #swscmedia

jenipurpleness Jeni Acelas

#swscmedia there are many difficulties & battles ahead bt we must keep striving for what we believe & what society deserves.Best #socialwork

BASW_UK BASW

@socworktidbits Surely it starts with valuing ourselves and our contribution. Someone also mentioned the word confidence.#swscmedia

bonklesoul davidmckendrick

@SWSCmedia Take more risks, manage them well and believe in ourselves #swscmedia

ProfSocialWork From The Gut

@mgoat73 but @CollegeofSW need to engage with SWs instead of talking at us! @BASW_UK is here and talking with us – engaging. #swscmedia

BASW_UK BASW

@444blackcat Came across a few recently during induction week so not all doom and gloom but needs to be the norm #swscmedia

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

@bonklesoul #swscmedia how comfortable is SW with making & learning from mistakes? This is key to develpment of professional decision making

The evening ended with:

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

Supply & Demand model as proposed by SWRB will bring about closer cooperation between employers & HEI… #swscmedia

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

This will transform #socialwork & sustain new model of sponsorship which will calibrate the qty of grads & raise quality #swscmedia

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

The starts of social work seem aligned for a major change & SWRB recommendations offer a real window #swscmedia

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

Of opportunity… however, the question is whether stakeholders are ready to cooperate so this is a positive & empowering change #swscmedia

SWSCmedia SWSCmedia

THANK YOU once again… for all your wonderful ideas and excellent engagement… Hope you enjoyed the debate as much as we did #swscmedia

Overall the debate was quite successful and exciting as it ushered a new era and level of social media engagement for social workers. This was eloquently encapsulated in the following tweets:

NickBerbiers Nick Berbiers

We’ve seen the future! We were present at the creation. #swscmedia

We received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants as everyone enjoyed the debate and the evening. It was both an enriching and fun engagement:

BASW_UK BASW

@SWSCmedia Wow, this has been an amazing experience. Not as scaryI thought. Thanks for organising it. Nushra :) #swscmedia

mgoat73 Martin Webber

@SWSCmedia Many thanks for organising this discussion – let’s hope some of the ideas can be carried forward

jaxrafferty Jackie Rafferty

That was interesting though kept losing the thread whilst writing tweet. Thanks to @swscmedia for organising – are we on for a repeat?

Keet84 Ben Keetley

@SWSCmedia Thanks for organising, good chance for me as a student to get some questions in with answers from a wide variety of professionals

intlsocialwork Karen Adshead

#swscmedia – thanks to all and especially to organisers for the debate

Ermintrude2 Moo

@SWSCmedia thanks too from me (again!) much appreciated! Look forward to more! #swscmedia

BASW_UK BASW

@DamoRobson @SWSCmedia Well done for taking the risk. :) #swscmedia

ProfSocialWork From The Gut

Really nice thanks @swscmedia so many really interesting ideas & ppl. #swscmedia

jonbolton Jon Bolton

Well done to @SWSCmedia for organising #swscmedia chat tonight.

socworktidbits socialworktidbits

@SWSCmedia Those of us who are students have legislation to read! But thanks for doing this – do more!

Jonnyhoyle1 Jonny Hoyle

@SWSCmedia #swscmdia really enjoyed the discussion. So many brilliant points!

copperbird copperbird

@SWSCmedia thanks for hosting debate last night, great

DementiaView Chris Edgerton

@SWSCmedia was an intersting evening

shirleyayres Shirley Ayres

Excellent discussions on #swscmedia & kudos to @SWSCmediafor organising. Next debate 1st Nov Developing #leadership in #socialwork

NickBerbiers Nick Berbiers

We’ve seen the future! We were present at the creation. #swscmedia

We look forward to seeing everyone including all those who could not participate in our last debate on 1 November when we will consider: “Developing Leadership in Social Work”.

There is also a Community Care blog offering a brief overview of the debate.

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