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This article examines the challenges encountered during a collaborative project involving research and practice in a Norwegian municipality. The objective of the project was to apply co-creation by involving users, employees and researchers in the development of coordinated, flexible and knowledge-based services, with a strong emphasis on user-centeredness. However, the project faced several obstacles that hindered its progress. In this article, we adopt a ‘what if’ perspective to explore alternative scenarios, identifying pivotal moments in the project and envisioning how alternative realities could have facilitated some of the fulfilment of its initial intentions. We argue that co-creation represents a mindset shift within the public sector, emphasising relational practices and embracing the inherent uncertainty associated with welfare service provision. By engaging in second-level inquiry, we propose that organisations can develop a co-creative logic that prioritises flexibility, innovation, involvement and ongoing evaluation, moving away from traditional reliance on routines, manuals and measurable outputs.

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This study set out to gain a better understanding of how family meetings are facilitated and experienced in an Irish rehabilitation hospital setting from the perspectives of interdisciplinary team (IDT) members, patients and their family members. This article reports the findings from IDT members’ perspectives. A critical-realist action-research approach was utilised that involved medical social workers (N = 15) and a social work academic. A quantitative, descriptive study design was adopted, which utilised a cross-sectional survey of IDT members. A total of 85 clinical staff responded to the questionnaire, of which 69 were fully completed. Four key themes emerged: pre-meeting engagement and preparation – a critical step; the impact of organisational structures; supporting participation; and mechanisms for effective family meetings. Findings indicate the importance of pre-meeting preparation, the mutuality of the relationships between participants, a standardised approach and the use of patient-centred and inclusive practices to achieve truly participatory family meetings. Family meetings involve complex processes in which mutual influence, context, preferences, values, information shared, the nature of the relationships involved and the communicative style of participants all play significant roles in both the process and decision-making outcomes. This study concluded that social workers are perhaps in a unique position to work with IDTs in clarifying the reality of the limits of choice and the involvement of the patient and family in rehabilitation hospital settings. In preparation for the role of family-meeting facilitation, the implementation of education and training programmes for IDT members is strongly recommended.

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The Decisions, Assessment and Risk Special Interest Group of the European Social Work Research Association (DARSIG) dedicated a pre-conference event at the 2023 European Conference for Social Work Research in Milan, Italy, to the application of innovations using big data and machine-learning algorithms in social work risk assessment and decision-making processes. Here, we share some ideas from these discussions.

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Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena’ (‘Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story’) (Ghanian proverb, available at: http://thelionandthehunter.org/). Historically, both the discipline and profession of social work have been imagined and constructed by those who oversee social work services – ‘the hunters’, according to the aforementioned Ghanaian proverb. Thus, it has been predominantly white, middle-class, non-disabled, mainly female, Global North voices that have determined what social work looks like and how it is carried out across the world. However, this is changing. Today, many more ‘lions’ are telling their stories, as this article demonstrates. Through the curated narratives of Bob, Doug and Rose, as well as that of their storyteller/collaborator, Viv, we learn that growing up in care in Scotland in the 1940s and 1950s was ‘confused and confusing’ for the children at the heart of it. Contradictory discourses competed for dominance, and the children experienced unintended consequences from the ‘care’ they received. While not attempting to universalise on the basis of three people’s stories, we believe that they have much to teach social work.

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Prompted by the news of yet another private home care provider going out of business and handing back their care contracts to the local council, this piece discusses key reasons why the quasi-market in adult social care in the UK continues to fail. The commentary highlights the negative impact of such market failures for service users, their families and care staff, and suggests the steps that need to be taken to improve the situation.

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This article analyses data collected as part of a three-year study supporting the implementation of Contextual Safeguarding across nine children’s social care teams in England and Wales as an approach to safeguarding adolescents at risk of harm in ‘extra-familial’ contexts. The article asks to what extent the first national testing of Contextual Safeguarding features relationships of trust or relationships of surveillance with young people, families and communities. Data collected for the National Scale Up study are analysed against the Watching Over Working With framework. Findings indicate that further guidance is required to support an uptake of Contextual Safeguarding that aligns with the framework’s values and with children’s rights.

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In this article, I discuss how I design a sexuality course using queer theory. Based on the key concepts of queer theory, I structure the course into eight areas: (1) problematizing the notion of sexuality, (2) rethinking sexuality through queer theory, (3) the historical and social construction of sexuality, (4) the social organization of sexuality, (5) managing sexuality institutionally, (6) the institutionalization of sexuality, (7) the fluidity of identities, and (8) forms of resistance. The goals are to help social work students (1) understand how social, cultural and political forces, as well as institutional practices (informed by sexual knowledge), shape and regulate sexual life that in turn produces privilege and oppression, and (2) engage them to rethink and develop social work practice that is socially transformative.

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Inter-agency collaboration plays a central role in contemporary Swedish welfare provision and access to social security for citizens that are long-term unemployed and suffer from ill health. Drawing on Nancy Fraser’s theorisation on the ‘politics of needs interpretation’, this article examines how needs and rights are interpreted and contested in inter-agency meetings involving local representatives from national, regional and municipal Swedish welfare agencies. Contextualised against social security reforms that put emphasis on the limitation of access and a ‘work-first’ approach, the article suggests that localised inter-agency meetings of this nature are arenas where perceived injustices are symbolically elaborated and challenged ‘from within’ welfare organisations. Although discourses emphasising self-sufficiency and the importance of work tend to act as depoliticising and normalising, the way they are implemented in practice is not passively accepted by front-line professionals, who question interpretive justifications, as well as harmful consequences for individuals.

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In Sweden, the gap between prosperity and poverty has increased over the last three decades. As a result, groups of youth are forced to live a strictly limited life in segregation and poverty. Youth living in these circumstances are often viewed as being at risk. The purpose of this article is to investigate how different professional groups – specifically, police officers, social workers and school health teams – talk about and describe the risks that young people face when growing up in disadvantaged urban areas and the various measures taken to deal with those they define as ‘youth at risk’. The results point towards how being at risk is made intelligible in relation to specific socio-spatial and institutional contexts. However, there is an overall tendency to individualise and situate problems within the youth themselves, thus making young people growing up in disadvantaged urban areas responsible for their own vulnerability.

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This commentary piece is written by Bilal Yildiz, a social worker in Turkey and a human rights defender. It tells the story of his arrest on trumped-up charges and the continuing threat to his freedom as a result of his social work activities. Bilal graduated from Istanbul University, Department of Social Work, and continues his master’s programme in human rights law at Istanbul Bilgi University. He has been working as a social worker at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey since 2016. In addition to his professional work, he has been active in many professional and human rights organisations. He is currently a board member of the Association of Social Workers, a member of the Human Rights Association, a member of the Kurdish Studies Association and a founding member of the Migration Monitoring Association.

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