Category Archives: The Social World

Keeping Children Safe in Education

thumbnail_Keeping_children_safe_in_education_pdfThe government has put out guidance on safeguarding children in educational institutions. It covers recruitment, retention, safeguarding responsibilities. The guidance has been around since April however, I think it is worth sharing to make sure it stays in the collective consciousness. I think it is especially crucial as we are seeing many more children and young people engaging in sexually harmful behaviours with peers on school property. The working together guidance and the London child protection procedures gives guidance on how to approach these issues but I think it is important for institutions to make sure their staff are aware of their responsibilities and what to do should they have concerns. Children and young people spend a significant part of their lives in an educational institution (day care, schools, colleges, etc.) and as a professional committed to safeguarding children and young people it improves my confidence to know that there are measures in place to safeguard children as well as expectations of staff as to how to manage.  

Safeguarding is the responsibility of every professional working with children and young people and the Working Together Guidance outlines this, making it clear that every organization working with children and young people should have policies and procedures in place to address safeguarding. However, I am not sure how many Social Workers actually know what the responsibility is of educational establishments. I know it seems we need to know a lot but it is to our benefit to at least know where to go to get further information should we need it. It is about having a solid network to support children.

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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in My Practice, The Social World


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FGM – the Government’s response

The local government has taken a stance on female genital mutilation. They have introduced legislation that allows for protection orders to save girls at risk and women who have experienced female genital mutilation. I think it is important as social workers we make ourselves aware of the services to help safeguard women and girls from harmful practices.

Have any of you ever worked with victims of female genital mutilation or honour based violence?

I would love to hear about the support your agencies offer or the services you’ve accessed that really help.

please share as I would like to get a dialogue going about how social workers as supporting women and girls around these issues.



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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in The Good Guys, The Social World


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Call to Duty

Young people today are exposed to more than every due to the accessibility of online content and technological developments. The pressures we knew as just part of growing up morphed into potentially dangerous situations with the ability to overwhelm the senses. Young Minds developed a youth led campaign to create a coalition fighting for the mental health and well-being of all young people. Out of this initiative Young Minds Vs was born. It launched in January 2014. Their goal is fight the rising pressures by:

– raising awareness of their campaign

– representing the campaign in the media and galvanizing the voices of children and young people

– working with local and national decision makers to influence services for children and young people

– partnering with organisations seeking to promote mental health among young people.

Young Minds Vs has consulted with 5600 young people to find out the big issues that are affecting them today. The outcomes revealed the biggest pressures facing young people today are:

– sex

– bullying

– school pressures

– lack of support and help; and

– future prospective i.e. – unemployment

As professionals it is our duty to help young people achieve stable living environments free from oversexualization, being harrassed due to perceived differences, with appropriate support for development and solid prospects for the future. It is up to the adults in the lives of children to make sure we are safeguarding and protecting them frrom mature content and situations which can impede their development of positive self esteem, healthy relationships and assure them there are places to get help should they need it at any point in their development.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be tackling the facts of what Young Minds Vs research has found, what is currently on offer to assist with these issues and what more we could be doing to ensure young people can grow with minimal external pressures to derail their development.



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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Social Work Practice, The Social World


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Open Letter to Loiuse Casey

***After writing this post I noticed that this years Troubled Families Conference has a session on the Role of the Social Worker. One can only hope that this is recognition and understanding of the role Social Work has played in administering this agenda. I also hope that it means the end of this need to highlight the perceived failings of the profession. However, this is still a matter I want brought to light because it needs to end.***

Those who have it don’t need to talk about it. This makes me question Louise Casey’s need to compare and use her program to bash social work. If your program and its results are as legitimate and valid as they should be, comparison to any others would be unnecessary. Yet you continue to use your speeches, where I have been in the audience, to bash social workers even after saying that it was not your intention to do so. I fear now, the government allowing you to be a part of another campaign that further tarnishes the reputation of social work will only make this worse. A true leader need not tarnish their image or credibility by condemning others. They are able to stand on their laurels and the strength of their own abilities. You may say there are exceptions but making broad negative generalizations about a profession is not only offensive it is unwise and unnecessarily damaging. I genuinely believe that, due to the systems through which society run, there will always be need for social workers. Until the world is rescued and healed from age-ism, racism, class-ism, poverty, injustice etc., there will always be a place for a skilled helping profession. There are issues, systemic and developmental, that need to be addressed. However, hinging your arguments about the authenticity of outcomes from your program on the real and perceived failings of social work is a rookie tactic. An experienced leader and professional can substantiate outcomes using the outcomes themselves. Stop attacking my profession. I am highly trained and highly committed to my profession and the populations I have served. I give my all and am not afraid to buck the system to get my clients what they need and there are many like me. We already have a public image issue; we certainly don’t need your help.

I believed in the troubled families agenda from the outset because I saw it as a return to grassroots social work. I thought it would take us back to when social workers had the time to walk clients through change as the change agents they are. I didn’t see it as a rival to social work, but recognition that we need to remember and engage our roots, working more closely with the community instead of being overwhelmed and overtaken by bureaucracy. There are many social workers out there working to make your vision a reality and it is insulting that you continue to feel the need to remind the nation of the profession’s inadequacies. I find it especially disheartening since I know for a fact that the regulating body of this program is aware that many are implementing this program in a business as usual model. That is, they aren’t doing anything new and are getting the results and funding using outcomes from already established interventions – which include social care and other programs/teams made up of social workers. This program isn’t new. It isn’t innovative and it isn’t clever. It has just given the social workers and others who are working within, the freedom and TIME they need to make the greatest impact by freeing them up from bureaucratic limitations.

Social Work is not your enemy. On the contrary, in addition to family support workers and others (and the skills they use are the root and base of what social work is about), social workers are helping to make these outcomes happen. Whatever your personal biases, recognise that some of the outcomes that make this program look good have been supported and made possible by social workers and find another way to legitimize it. Because comparing it to social work, it’s old now. It looks vindictive, which diminishes your credibility in the eyes of those who are watching and know how outcomes are really working. It paints your argument as a tool of social work opponents to further discredit the profession, and those of us with the training, skills and depth of insight are getting fed up of the sheer ignorance of it all.

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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in The Social World


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Local Substance Misuse Service


 Last month I went to a training given by service provider 722. They provide the adolescent drug and alcohol service for Waltham Forest. Reflecting on this training reminder of the pitfalls of being off the frontline and the need to maintain up to date knowledge of the issues that affect the populations with which I work or worked.

The trainer, though currently a service lead, has a background in social work. In addition to the information and reminders I received on drugs, I was struck by her insight and commitment to the population. In addition to not pushing the abstinence agenda (one which I do not whole heartedly agree with because it doesn’t fully take into account the need using a particular substance has for a person) she was clear about the fact that although the remit of her program stops at a certain age, she recognises a gap.

If I am not mistaken, the remit of the service ends at age 18. However, she recognised that there is a gap in the provision of substance misuse services from the 18-25 age range. It is in this age range that they begin to move into adult services which take a much different stance to treating substances. Most of the young people in this age range aren’t prepared for the intensity of the treatments adult services. There is a distinct difference between the delivery of services for adults and the delivery of services for young people and what struck me was the trainer’s stance on still accepting these young people because she recognises the need. I am always impressed by professionals who are willing to go above and beyond the call to respond to the needs of the community.

A referral to this service is done using the DUST – Drug Use Screening Tool. What I like and appreciate about this form is that you have to do it with the young person. What I appreciate about the service is they won’t accept referrals if they haven’t been done with the young person but they are also willing to consult professionals – in a three-way meeting with the young person if needed – in order to help. Sometimes, it isn’t just about making a referral. Sometimes talking to an expert can give you the tools and techniques necessary to work through issues with a client. What I also appreciate about the tools is it opens up the conversation so if the young person isn’t ready to engage, they start to think about their use and are made aware that help is available if they choose to accept it.

I appreciate talking to and working with professionals who are passionate about their work and looking to make a difference with their clients. What tools have you used or heard about? What do you like about them? How accessible are they?

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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in My Practice, Social Work, The Social World


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Confronting Racism

shoutingThe Root reported that there has been heavy backlash for Steve Harvey who invited Paula Deen to mentor the 100 young Black men at his mentoring camp.

For those that don’t know Deen is thought to be a racist. Now usually I wouldn’t support our young people being exposed to racists but I can see the value in what he is doing. (Steve has reportedly said he didn’t care what people thought and social media is calling for the parents of the boys to take action.)

The value is in the lessons the could be learned from this; because while the camp is more that likely providing them with great skills they are also in a silo. There is great potential for them to learn:
– how to prove your haters wrong
– coping skills in dealing with people who think little of you
– understanding the view of black people by others
– learning to get something you need or want from someone who wouldn’t otherwise give it to you
– learning to manage opposing views
– confronting Racism or any issue head on instead of running from it
– working with those who may be an enemy

It is possible that good can come from this. But, as always, emotion has driven people to act before understanding. What I would say to the parents is to question:

– what is his rational

– what will the boys possibly get out of this

– what will they learn

– how will they protect the boys from anything that will cause lasting damage

– how are they going to manage conflict and confrontation

– why exactly did he think this was a good idea

– of all the chefs in the world, why this one

…and then make their decision whether or not they want their son(s) to take part. There has to be a reason. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assumption based outrage, ask questions, challenge – the parents have a right to ask so they can protect their children.

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Posted by on October 8, 2014 in Race, The Good Guys, The Social World


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Is This the Best We’ve Got


Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon Black republican and questionable character. This highly educated man with great potential for influence decides he doesn’t believe in evolution, which is fine, to each his own. His reasoning leaves much to be desired by those of us, well, those of us capable of independent thought.

Darrell Lucus, blogger for Liberal America reported:

Carson says that as a neurosurgeon who has spent most of his life studying the human brain, he believes the brain is too complex to have simply evolved. He also doubts that our eyes could have evolved, since none of its parts can function without the others. For an eyeball to have evolved, Carson says, “according to their scheme, boom, it had to just occur overnight.”

You know what, he is entitled to his opinion. I believe in freedom of speech.

The article goes on to say

To his mind, “if you have an intelligent creator, what he does is give his creatures the ability to adapt to the environment so he doesn’t have to start over every fifty years creating all over again.”

This is the antiquated view that religion and science are enemies. As a Christian I have a piece of information and a query, for fundamentalists. First a piece of information that may be astounding, Jesus wasn’t a Christian. I’m just leaving that there. My query is, how can you believe that God can do anything but you don’t believe that he gave man the capacity to do anything even if he shouldn’t (in someone’s opinion)? We are given the ability to choose.

The last thing I am going to say is Mr Carson says we have an intelligent creator who gave us the ability to adapt to the environment. Well, what is evolution but phased or gradual adaptation?

I’m just saying.

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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Rants, The Social World


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