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Food insecurity continues to increase in the UK and includes a lack of adequate resources to shop, cook and eat. Among social groups most likely to experience poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, relatively few older adults have traditionally accessed food banks. This is despite malnutrition representing a common cause of functional decline and mortality among older people. This article draws from interviews in Cambridge with older adults, volunteers and others working with older people. It details why some older people who experience hunger or malnutrition may not access the services of a food bank. Among other findings, we highlight the impact of stigma and pride upon many older adults’ viewpoints, as well as the possible negative effects of chronic illness, isolation, reductions in social care funding and policy-based reforms. The potential of social and healthcare services to better support older people experiencing food insecurity and malnutrition is highlighted.

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This article explores the implications of the 2004 Norwegian substance treatment reforms for social work. It considers power dynamics in social, political and economic contexts. The reforms aimed to address the absence of consensus and oversight in the Norwegian drug treatment system and to enhance accessibility and individualised care for people with substance use disorders. Using a genealogical approach and a theoretical framework based on Michel Foucault’s concept of biopower, this study analyses the integration of control and welfare policies to combat drugs and the reform’s emphasis on self-governance, alongside management considerations. The findings reveal a shift in governmentality regarding addiction services in Norway, towards neoliberal management and an emphasis on local governeance, decentralisation and invidualised care. Moreover, the study highlights the potential for undesirable biopolitics to emerge, particularly in the context of the simultaneous coercion and treatment of people using illegal drugs. The study concludes by discussing the implications for social work practice and calling for further research on the integration of control and welfare policies.

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This article aims to explore the impact of neoliberal logic and ideas of establishment in Sweden on non-governmental social work with asylum-seeking young people. The focus is on the perceptions of the social workers within a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with the establishment of unaccompanied young people. Data were collected through interviews and participant observations and analysed using theories of neoliberalism, belonging and neoliberal racism. The results show that when the migration laws were toughened in Sweden, the social workers and the NGO had to adapt. The NGO repackaged their target group only to include young people with residency, excluding others. The social workers resisted these changes and went beyond their formal duties to support all young people regardless of asylum status. However, the social work provided was still within the establishment framework of the programme. They kept working towards establishing people already deemed within a neoliberal and colonial logic as unestablishable.

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This article elaborates on a theoretically informed model of action rooted in the concept of professional resistance, which approaches groups of people and social problems in an alternative way to the dominant modes of managerial practice. The aim is to create conditions for approaching groups with social needs differently and to be able to act politically for social change within contemporary society. We will do this by exploring the potential of the assembly in line with Hardt, Negri and Butler, as well as the notion of transversal politics as developed by Yuval-Davis, for creating political subjectivities and alliances across differences. The reason for this theoretical approach is based on how the effects of categorisation and its political function can sometimes be challenging to identify. This is argued to especially be the case within a neoliberal capitalist society where categories induce competition between precarious groups to maintain the political status quo.

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Existing research demonstrates at least threefold higher rates of maltreatment for disabled children than for their non-disabled peers. The situation is compounded by pervasive impediments to effective safeguarding practice for disabled children. While scholarly attention to this area is growing, one aspect remains thoroughly neglected in the Irish context, namely, historical accounts of disability and child protection are stark by their absence. This article presents key historical changes in child protection and welfare practice for disabled children from 1960 to 2023 in the Republic of Ireland. The account illustrates how discourses of risk aversion, rights and inclusion have collided with increased bureaucratisation and state regulation. Towards achieving a critical theoretical exposition of the history, conceptual conventions of the ‘5-P’ child protection model (prevention, paramountcy, partnership, protection and parental responsibility) are applied. Key lessons for policymakers and practitioners about the sociocultural construction of child protection and disability are then extracted and, with respect to informing future practice, critically explored.

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What constitutes social work is a central question in theory building. If social work wants to be more than a model idea, we cannot answer this question without looking at social work practice. The article presents ‘doing social work’ as an approach to theorising social work through ethnographic research. In addition to the basic theoretical and methodological characteristics of the approach, we present four modes of doing social work, which have been developed based on a comparison of different ethnographic studies in different fields: deciding in uncertainty; playing with ambiguity; using categories of difference; and disciplining the everyday. In the following, the mode of playing with ambiguity will be singled out and presented in detail, as it has an important impact on doing relationship while doing social work. In the article, we will use ethnographic data and examples to show how actors actively deal with different roles without making this explicit.

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Climate change is a universal challenge that affects every country, community and individual. Importantly, its discourse requires collective participation from all academic disciplines, professionals, government sectors, classes and persons at a larger scale, not elite-imposed values. By adopting the critical paradigm, this article reviews the relevance of Ubuntu philosophy as an epistemic value of ordinary African people and of social work, which needs to be appreciated in climate change discourse. Most importantly, the hegemony of the imperialist values of the elite is explicated herein through the adoption of the narrative literature review method. The discussions highlight the nexus and relevance of a climate change discourse that should also be co-driven by social work and ordinary African people through the Ubuntu philosophy. For sustainable livelihoods, this article argues that Ubuntu, as an Afrocentric attitude, challenges the Western values of individuality and living for today without considering others and future generations.

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The helping professions have long understood that secondary traumatic stress and its counterparts of burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma are a problem for workers in the field. However, less is known about the impact of the issue on students who have placements. Using the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS), this quantitative research study seeks to explore if a convenience sample of 45 students on two programmes in the field was affected. The results show several non-significant results, suggesting that the number of weekly caring responsibility hours did not predict perceived STSS scores after placement and that high-scoring students have shown no significant difference in STSS scores before and after placement. Overall, we also found that the subsample of ten students with caring responsibilities had higher STSS scores. The article discusses well-being in students generally, incorporating trauma-informed perspectives. While no students in this study were affected, the discussion examines what can be done to better support students from an ecological perspective to protect and prepare them for their placements and future careers. Finally, this article calls for policy and practice in education and the curricula of the helping professions to routinely incorporate awareness of the issues in training and supervision.

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Over recent years, the number of refugee families with children fleeing to Europe has increased. Although reception centres in Europe are not equipped to host families with children, families nevertheless remain for extensive periods in these collective centres, where they lack autonomy, privacy, certainty and often even a sense of security. Drawing on 123 interviews with parents (58), children (38) and social workers (38) in nine collective reception centres in Belgium, we analyse how the Belgian asylum regime impacts refugee parents’ capacity to fulfil parental roles and responsibilities and social workers’ relationships with refugee parents. Our analysis points to a complex combination of declining parental agency yet increasing responsibility on behalf of refugee parents across different parental roles and responsibilities. This in turn leads children to take on what are typically considered ‘adult roles’, raising concerns about parentification among social workers. By introducing the term ‘institutionalized forms of parentification’, we call for a re-politicization of social work with refugee families. Moving away from common approaches to family relationships that focus primarily on the individual or the family system, our findings draw attention to the impact of social spaces, policies and cultural value systems.

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