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Towards participatory social policy
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The UK welfare state is under sustained ideological and political attack. It has also been undermined by accusations of paternalism and past failures to engage with the very people it is intended to help.

This unique book is the first to critique the past, present and future welfare state from a participatory perspective. Peter Beresford, champion of user involvement, draws on pioneering theories and practice of welfare service user movements to offer a blueprint for a new participatory social policy. He controversially challenges orthodox social policy and the limitations of both Fabian and Neo-liberal perspectives in engaging people to improve their own welfare, drawing on service users ‘ own ideas and experience, including fascinating vignettes from his own family’s experience, to demonstrate the value of ‘user knowledge’.

Filling a much-needed gap in the literature, this accessible text will provide a great introduction for students and a road-map for practitioners of an alternative vision for a future participatory and sustainable social policy. It will also command much wider interest from everyone concerned with how we look after each other in future in society.

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From Exclusion to Involvement
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The COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement and renewed action against climate change all highlight the increasing gulf between narrowly based dominant political ideologies and popular demands for social justice, global health, environmentalism and human rights.

This book examines for the first time the exclusionary nature of prevailing political ideologies. Bringing together theory, practice and the relationship between participation, political ideology and social welfare, it offers a detailed critique of how the crucial move to more participatory approaches may be achieved.

It is concerned with valuing people’s knowledge and experience in relation to ideology, exploring its conventional social construction including counter ideology and the ideological underpinnings and relations of participation. It also offers a practical guide for change.

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Personalisation has become the policy buzz-word of the twenty-first century. Supporters claim it offers service users choice and services attuned to meet their specific needs, moving away from ‘one size fits all’ state services. In this short form book, part of the Critical and Radical Debates in Social Work series, Peter Beresford, one of Britain’s foremost social work academics, challenges the personalisation agenda and its consequences on service users. Although critical of ‘one size fits all’ services that deny service user voice, Beresford argues that personalisation turns service users into ‘consumers’ of services within a care market and hence reinforces the commodification of care which sees vast profits made by a small number of providers at the expense of good quality services for those who use them.

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An international introduction to participatory welfare

Social policy is often constructed and implemented by people who have little experience of its impact as a service user, but there has been a growing interest in greater public, patient and service user involvement in social policy as both political activity and academic discipline.

Social Policy First Hand is the first comprehensive international social policy text from a participatory perspective and presents a new service user-led social policy that addresses the current challenges in welfare provision.

A companion volume to Peter Beresford’s bestselling All our welfare, it introduces the voices of different groups of service users, starting from their lived experience. With an impressive list of contributors, this important volume fills a gap in looking at social policy using participatory and inclusive approaches and the use of experiential knowledge in its construction. It will challenge traditional state and market-led approaches to welfare.

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We now have a new kind of psycho-politics; a brutal and destructive alliance between neoliberalism and an expanding psychiatric empire. This article will explore how mental health service users/survivors and other mental health campaigners can connect with the critical analysis and action embodied in the work and values of Peter Sedgwick at a time of crisis and reaction. They have seen ideas like ‘user involvement’ and ‘recovery’ co-opted and undermined, and both their experiences and aspirations individualised and devalued. Emerging interest in mad studies, it is suggested, offers a way forward that challenges both the marketisation and medicalisation of people’s distress. This discussion will explore the continuities and discontinuities with Peter Sedgwick’s pioneering work and highlight, as he did, the importance of making explicit the political and ideological relations of survivors’ struggles within and against the psychiatric system.

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This article draws on the first-known review of user-controlled research, to explore the potential contribution of service user knowledge and service user research to the development of evidence-based policy and practice in health and social care. It locates this discussion in the context of competing research ideologies and the broader history of user involvement and user-controlled research. The concept of ‘valid’ knowledge remains contested and the article suggests, drawing on the views of service users, that their research and experiential knowledge is likely to have a helpful and particular role to play in the generation of useful knowledge as part of a wider spectrum of research approaches and knowledge production, and that the position of such research should be safeguarded to enable this to happen.

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The relationship between distress and disability has continued to be a vexed and controversial one. These tensions extend between conceptualizations, internal and external definitions, cultures and movements. At the same time, dominant professional models of ‘recovery’ and increasingly reactionary public policy and political attitudes towards mental health service users highlight the problems of isolation and co-option facing mental health service users and the users/survivor movement. The aim of this chapter is to explore the potential for building common understanding and points of agreement between disability and distress and competing discourses about the two. Particular attention is paid to the development of social model thinking, neuro-diversity and mad studies, exploring opportunities for meeting points and alliance.

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‘Personalisation’ is without question the dominating idea and development currently in social work and social care. In England, it has had a high profile since the publication of the government’s Putting people first in 2007 (HM Government, 2007), and the likelihood is that it will remain so in the UK for the foreseeable future. All three mainstream political parties have signed up to the idea of ‘personalisation’. It has become an article of faith for the English Department of Health and numerous consultancies and pressure groups work to advance its implementation.

Yet, ‘personalisation’ is a term that has no clear or agreed meaning and does not have a place in many established dictionaries. Many of its strongest critics have been service users and their organisations, and practitioners and their trade unions, although, ironically, among the major claims made for it are that it will improve service users’ lives and restore professional practice to its original progressive value base.

Whatever we may think of ‘personalisation’, those concerned with social work, social care and health must grapple with it because it is now increasingly shaping both the conceptual frameworks of these fields and their day-to-day professional and occupational practice. So, whether our starting point is as helping professionals, students, managers, educators, researchers, service users or carers, we need to make sense of this development to understand how it may affect us and how we may negotiate and respond to it most helpfully. A key aim of this article is to help readers to do this.

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We should not be surprised if the issue of personalisation and personal budgets has come to be seen as controversial and contentious. What perhaps would be more concerning would be if it were treated as straightforward and without complexity. Indeed, that has been one of the significant features of political approaches to personalisation. It has gained support from all three main political parties and tended to be treated as unproblematic. However, as soon as we consider the context of this idea and development, it becomes possible to see some of the serious traps lying in wait for it, and also to begin to explore ways of overcoming them.

First, a point about my position on this issue. Historically, there has been some polarisation of discussion, with some people and constituencies strongly for or strongly against personalisation and personal budgets. This has at times been a fraught and disturbing situation, with some commentators who have been critical of this development marginalised and excluded (Boxall et al, 2009). My background as a long-term health and social care service user has put me in a different position. Over the years since the 1970s, a number of different developments have taken place in social care (extending in some cases to health). These include the establishment of social services departments, the introduction of community social work and then community care, care management, the ‘purchaser–provider split’ and now ‘personalisation’. Each of these innovations has been heralded as offering more cost-effective and responsive services and systems of support. In some cases, the rhetoric of increased choice and control that has come to be associated with personalisation has also been emphasized – notably in the case of community care.

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Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men. (Mahatma Gandhi)

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.

(Noam Chomsky)

There is little that is not contentious about the ‘welfare state’. It was a term that Sir William Beveridge, the individual most closely associated with it in Britain, apparently disliked – since as critics comment – he was anxious to emphasise the limits to state responsibility (Mitton, 2012, 36; Collins, 2013, 28). While in the UK the ‘welfare state’ has come to be seen as a native concept, in fact it was a term that was used earlier in Germany in the 1920s (Gladstone, 2008, 24). Uruguay was described as ‘South America’s first welfare state’ as a result of reforms made in the first third of the twentieth century (Pendle, 1952). As time has passed, there has also been an increasing tendency to see the origins of the British welfare state as lying further and further in the past. In some cases this has resulted in the reframing of punitive nineteenth-century policy in ‘welfare’ terms that its recipients would doubtless find very difficult to comprehend (Gladstone, 2008, 24).

Frequently now, the Liberal government reforms of 1906–11 are taken as a key starting point (Alcock, 2008; Baldock et al, 2012; Whiteside, 2012, 121). Certainly these extended the role of the state in social policy. But how helpful it is to make a linear connection with the post-war welfare state, is open to serious question.

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