National Link Worker Training Programme - Leadership is about People
In recognition of the integral leadership role of link workers within the new COVID-19 practice learning environments, Learning Network West has been granted monies from the Scottish Government through the Social Work Education Partnership to offer and deliver additional link worker training courses in addition to those we already provide within our own partnerships in the West of Scotland. To broaden and strengthen the National perspective on practice learning, all sessions in 2021 will be delivered in collaboration with partners in East and North-East Scotland.
Practice Wisdom 14th December 2020
This week's Practice Wisdom is shared by one of our new IPES, Emma Briggs. Emma is also a disability advisor at Glasgow Caledonian University and her colleague Mel co-wrote the article “Is the hidden curriculum binary?” on page 104. This paper examines higher education (HE) through a trans and gender diverse lens in order to explore the extent to which the hidden curriculum is tacitly, and unconsciously, binary. Click here to download.
Book Review - Steve Hunter IPE
Please see recent book review by Steve Hunter, Independent practice educator with Learning Network West of the recently published, How To Survive In Social Work by Neil Thompson and John McGowan. Please click on the below image to find out how to purchase book.
‘How to Survive in Social Work’ by Neil Thompson and John McGowan is a thoroughly stimulating and uplifting publication for social workers. It succeeds in identifying the challenges faced by social workers today, presentinga well-balanced appraisal of how social workers can endure thesepressures to thrive ultimately in their practice.
From the outset, the authors see the main challenge facing social work in the context of the workplace as its “business’ culture of managerialism and efficiency savings (i.e. the macro level) in the face of growing demand at a time of austerity budgets. As they put it succinctly, we are faced with “infinite demand and finite supply”.
All social workers realise the profession can be extremely challenging on both a macro and a micro level as they tryto deal with complex and distressing life-changing events. In this book, the authors strongly argue that it is by adhering to understoodkey values, particularly the commitment to compassion and addressing inequality, that enables practitioners to mitigate challenges.
The authors further argue that it is by developing a‘self-management’ skill set (i.e. being well-organised, focused and self- motivated) that sustains social workers through difficult times. This is a valid comment because ultimately it is the practitioner’s responsibility to adhere to professional standards and values.
Thompson & McGowan further encourage social workers to be realistic about what can and cannot be achieved. When working with clients, it is not possible to remove their pain and suffering but it is possible to recognise that these experiences can be part of the healing process. This is very insightful and supportive to help students and new practitioners.
‘How to Survive in Social work’ is highly recommended to students and practice educators seeking guidance through such a complex and important profession. The authors powerfully argue that in order to both survive and thrive, social workers need to make the most of their professional commitments, teamwork and values. A focus on taking care of themselves and supporting colleagues: by managing stress; having a valid work-life balance and well thought out career path should enable them to provide better care for clients. On a wider level, they recommend that crucial support can be found through membership of BASW and the Social Work Union. An engaging, clear & concise book that sheds light on an often-misconceived occupation. This should be any social work professional’s first port of call to equip them with the relevant skills required.
Stephen Hunter, Independent Practice Teacher, November 2020
Practice Teacher workshops - Latest online Workshop see below
Just Keep on Practice Teaching
Winter 2020 Workshop Collection
The first in our Winter 2020 series of virtual workshops will take place on Wednesday 18th November from 12noon to 2pm on Zoom.
We are delighted to announce that Andreea Bocioaga will discuss Research Confidence: Supporting students to take on research Projects.
Click here to download flyer.
Post workshop information
Following Sarah Rose's fantastic Keep On Practice Educating workshop, Weathering The Storm: promoting emotional resilience, Sarah has provided some further links to wellbeing/resilience resources. The SSSC one is Covid specific and the IRISS one is more general. Please check out:
Practice Wisdom Mindfulness in Social Work - 5th October 2020
Mindfulness and social work is a subject matter close to my heart as I have just started the MSc in Mindfulness Studies at The University of Aberdeen. In this Practice Wisdom, Pearse McCusker, lecturer at the University of Edinburgh has written an Insight for Iriss based on his research on mindfulness and social work. This Insight offers clear messages about the benefits and future benefits of mindfulness in social work with the caveat that the research base is still emergent and developing.
A powerful take-away for me as a practice educator was McCusker’s reflections within the research on anti-racist practice. He cites the findings of Wong (1994) that mindfulness allowed students to challenge their sense of self by accepting the discomfort that arose from their reflections about privilege and discrimination in less avoidant and judgemental ways. This is particularly relevant within the Black Lives Matter movement and McCusker places Wong’s findings within a small but developing body of work that explores how mindfulness can move from an individualised therapeutic idea to an intervention that challenges oppression (Hick and Furlotte, 2010; Berila, 2016; McCusker, 2019).
Enjoy the article and please email any comments on your own take-aways. And as always, please share anything of interest within social work practice and education. For a link to the article, please click here: Mindfulness in social work education and practice.
Cath Shaw @Learning Network West
Practice Wisdom - 4th September 2020
Social work from home: Creating thinking spaces
Practice Wisdom - 7th July 2020
Practice Wisdom: A Day In The Life
This weeks’ Practice Wisdom comes from Robyn Moffat-Wall. Robyn is a social worker having graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2018. Robyn went straight into working as a Refugee Integration Adviser at the Scottish Refugee Council in Glasgow and “hasn’t stopped learning since”. Robyn shares her personal and professional experiences of lockdown including the value of digital learning, particularly to support #BlackLivesMatter (with some recommended links) and how their service has adapted to meet the needs of service users. Click here to read further.
Practice Wisdom - 19th June 2020
This week's Practice Wisdom comes from the heart of island community social work in the Outer Hebrides. Laura is a social worker based within a Children and Families team and has provided an incredibly meaningful account of her practice experiences during lockdown. I was one of Laura’s practice educators during her training and she demonstrates the same exceptional level of depth, insight and reflection in practice during a global pandemic as she did as a student social worker in Mid-Argyll. Click here to download. Have a good weekend Cath Shaw.
Practice Wisdom - 5th June 2020
In support of this week's Black Tuesday and the use of space to amplify the voices, work and message of the Black Community, Practice Wisdom is sharing workpromoting anti-racist practice within practice education in Scotland.
Click here to download the powerpoint slides from Dr Dina Sidhva's recent Keep On Practice Educating workshop on Supporting Black and Minority Ethnic Students from April 2020. Dina’s purpose in delivering this workshop was to enable a deeper and more critical appreciation for the experiences of BME social work students, and how a deeper understanding can inform our role as educators.
Opening up a debate on an uncomfortable truth, No Problem Here: Understanding Racism in Scotland (Davidson et al, 2018) gathers together the views of academics, activists and anti-racism campaigners who argue that it is vital that the issue of racism be brought into the centre of public conversations.
Please read and share. #blacklivesmatter.
Thank you, Cath
News Bulletin April 2020
Learning Network West
Learning Network West like everyone is trying to understand the new world we currently find ourselves in. We want to keep you informed and are here for your information and support.
We have, in this News Bulletin, included some up to date information which you may find useful and would be happy to distribute further information for a regular news update. Click on link to read Bulletin
Please keep in touch. Have a safe and Happy Easter.
Practice Wisdom 15th May 2020
Practice wisdom is in the therapeutic form of a good old laugh this week and shared from discussions at this week’s Lunch Space.
For anyone who has n’t heard of Andrew Cotter and his zoom meeting with his dogs, then please watch the following clip (for those that have, please enjoy again!). For link, please click here: https://youtu.be/fqfWuuyT2co
Have a lovely weekend, Cath
Practice Wisdom - 7th May 2020
This Practice Wisdom comes from Dr Gabor Mate, speaker, physician and author. He is best known for his expertise on addiction, stress, childhood trauma, and the mind-body connection. During this CORONAVIRUS global lockdown, Gabor is providing guidance on coping with isolation, raising emotional awareness and finding opportunities for growth. For link to interview, please click here:
I was super influenced by Gabor when I was working in substance misuse and justice services on being able to listen to where the pain and trauma was for each individual to help understand their behaviour.
In this interview, Gabor touches on social and individual challenges and solutions. He considers that the current higher death rate amongst BME health workers is likely to be from those individuals having a more compromised immune system as a result of being traumatised by existing oppression. In the Keep On Practice Teaching workshop series in April on Supporting BME Students, Dina Sidhva reflected on such multiple disadvantages and on the need for Covid-19 to focus positively on our shared common humanity.
In our next workshop on Wednesday 27th May, Dr Heather Lynch extends this by suggesting that the Covid-19 pandemic has not just exposed inequalities in human structures but also in the human relationship with environment and that we must reconsider our relationship with environments that can both sustain and harm human life. To book a space on this workshop, please click here:
Gabor highlights that the global pandemic can a time of opportunity when we are recognising that we are all connected as one unit. Yet what about the real, day-day signs of ‘untogetherness’ and fear- the anxiety which exists at the supermarket, the queues, when some-one comes too close, the judgement if people are perceived not to be following current rules? Gabor reflects that rational fear is an authentic response to a threat and then we can think about how to protect ourselves. Irrational fear tends to be overwhelm, anxiety and panic. He invites these real, daily situations for us all as opportunities to learn how to be with other people under situations of stress and tension.
I find Gabor to have a really warm, reassuring, compassionate, evidence based approach so have a watch if you get a chance! And remember, this is also a time for tremendous human creativity and inventiveness which demonstrates that human security is created by connection!
Have a lovely weekend, Cath
Please see below link to job advert on behalf of Fiona Stansfield, Strathclyde University.
Position is for a part-time placement supervisor (personal tutor) at Strathclyde University, Closing date is 27th July.
Click here to apply.