Social Work

Our Social Work publishing features books and journals that help to address issues arising from poverty, inequality and social injustice.

The list includes monographs, textbooks and practitioner guides, series, including Research in Social Work co-published with the European Social Work Research Association, and the Critical and Radical Social Work and European Social Work Research journals.

Policy Press is the leading UK book publisher for books on child abuse, child sexual exploitation, child protection and children’s social work.

Social Work

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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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The biennial conferences on Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work have reached a new milestone. Running in Belfast since 2010, the 2024 conference will be held in Zurich, Switzerland, 20–21 June. This article describes the journey to date and provides information for those interested in attending future conferences. This short article also includes some reflective comment on the contribution of the Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work conferences to learning and to the research community.

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Intimate partner violence is a global problem experienced by all population groups, irrespective of socio-economic, religious and cultural background, and including both women and men. This systematic narrative review synthesises empirical research to draw conclusions on facilitators of, and barriers to, accessing help for victims of intimate partner violence. A search in Scopus, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Medline and PsycInfo conducted in October 2021 identified 864 articles that were independently reviewed to yield 47 relevant studies published between 2011 and 2021 in peer-reviewed journals. The included studies were synthesised using the following headings: (1) personal aspects; (2) family and friends; (3) community factors; (4) referral channels; (5) financial aspects; and (6) service issues. The severity of injury seemed to be a key factor in deciding to seek help. Family and friends were helpful to victims who were looking for support with their relationship and as a support on their journey towards services. A third key finding was that health and care systems are important referral channels for intimate partner violence services. As supports in intimate partner violence develop, consideration is required not only of the trauma of the victim but also how to communicate and facilitate access to help.

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This article examines the views of 29 victim survivors (who were part of a larger study) who retrospectively disclosed non-recent child sexual abuse regarding their reasons for disclosure, the child protection and criminal justice responses to them, and the possible ways for improving system responses to address their needs and interests. The reasons for disclosure centred on a desire to pass the burden of the abuse to someone else, to achieve a subjectively defined form of justice and to regain power and control over their lives. Following disclosure, victim survivors often found themselves involved in two forms of investigation: child protection and criminal justice. The findings suggest that criminal justice systems do not adequately address victims’ needs in these circumstances. They often feel marginal to child protection investigations and feel used instrumentally in those proceedings. However, having social workers ‘rattle the cage’ of perpetrators provided comfort for some victim survivors who failed to get justice through criminal justice mechanisms. Based on the research presented in this study, it is suggested that restorative justice may have something to offer as part of the response to non-recent disclosures of child sexual abuse as part of both criminal justice and child protection investigations and processes.

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It can be difficult for researchers to access research participants from vulnerable populations. Focusing on the single victim interviewee recruited for my human trafficking-related research, this article will examine the method employed to conduct research with her, which I term ‘case study by proxy’: a new hybrid qualitative methodological approach combining elements of the case study and interview by proxy methods. This may prove to be a valuable methodological tool for researchers studying vulnerable populations.

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