Category Archives: discrimination

Research diary March 2012

As part of a research project it is often useful to keep a diary or journal, I do not have a diary but thought how about writing posting my thoughts here. Hope you do not mind?

The formal learning part of this module is scarily going past quite fast, and my draft proposal is almost ready to be submitted. I have to be honest, this is the first time I have taken on a piece of work like this. The project itself has sparked a real interest in research for me. Its not that I have not been interested in research, the pressures of day to day life and work seem to make this a difficult subject to find time to do.

However, now that I have started it appears that there is not a minute that has gone past when I am not thinking about something or the other to do with the project. I do think that because of the amount of work this does cause in my day to day job has helped me to reflect upon the subject material that I have been reading.

I have found many interesting articles that have been very thought provoking in the area of age assessments. And I guess when undertaking research projects gaps in research start to form sparking further interest into the subject. Ravi Kholi in ‘The sound of silence: Listening to what unaccompanied asylum-seeking children say and do not say’ highlighted this saying that steadily over the last few years the detailed lives and circumstances of these children and young people have begun to be charted and understood (Kholi, 2005). Some of these I have saved in my useful links page.

Furthermore because this has been well written and covered about topic my focus has to take a different direction. Again I find Ravi Kohli’s comments interesting as he argues what do we know about the young people’s ordinary lives before they make their journey? and by understanding their ordinary lives we will start to see separated children as ordinary children and not people trying to beat the system (Kohli, 2005). This argument is supported in a report called Negotiating Childhood: Age assessment in the UK asylum systems where UASC whether they are ‘genuine’ refugees or not their status as ‘genuine’ children may still be challenged (Kvittingen, 2010).

My next stage once I have completed my research proposal is to start collecting the information that I need. Although this creates some apprehension in whether I will be able to find any meaningful data from the sample I will be approaching. I do not know, and although this appears very vague at present I guess I have to protect the work I am doing.

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Did I understand you?

Have you ever wondered how easy is it to communicate what you want to say? When you are anxious or nervous, angry, sad or just confused! for me I can find it very difficult and often find myself tripping over the words that I want to say.

However, as a Social Worker we learn that communication is a powerful tool that needs to be used carefully in order to make positive changes.  Some people would argue however, more could be done to support families in order to help them communicate with their social worker. 

Communication is therefore defined as: ‘the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium’: (Oxford dictionary).

As a Social Worker working with young people I find myself very conscious about how I communicate and often consider how I can create an environment that promotes communication.   Each person I meet is different, and the way that they want to talk to me is different.  Some prefer a soft caring approach, other young people need and prefer a firmer approach to help them feel safe.

But what is lost is that the spoken word is only a small amount of information that is being communicated at any time.  It is very easy to argue that someone is not listening.  However, it is not as easy to argue that someone is not listening when you are saying one thing whilst carrying out different actions.

There is no magic wand that can change this, our non verbal communication is often done by our subconscious.  And the most damaging especially when the Social Worker meets someone for the first time and the wrong signals are sent to each other, which means an honest exchange of information is going to be harder to achieve.

In order to safeguard children is is therefore important to understand for  families to understand it is okay to be challenged, as long as the points they are being challenged on are answered honestly.  It is also therefore okay for this to be reciprocated and families challenge decisions made in an appropriate way, either through the complaints procedure or Judicial Review depending on the decision being made.

It is in my opinion that certainly when working with young people that support is being provided to enable good communication, through their pathway planning, looked after children’s reviews, advocates or solicitors.  I would also like to see more children and young people being encouraged to take part in Participation events, working with Children’s Trusts to develop the services in their area to meet their needs.

I would also like to see the stigma being removed from people who need to have the support of Social Services and maybe their is a time for a change in title.  However, the role of the social worker is very important and families should not live in fear that Social Care may knock on their door.  Instead communities should work hand in hand with social care to promote a more positive supportive relationship, focusing on early intervention rather than removal.












Caring

Why did you become a social worker? it is a weird question and each of us have our own reasons as to why we trained, studied and qualified as a social worker.  The reason I am now wondering this is because I was asked or I suppose told that the reason why social workers do this is because they care! Now, this is right, but is it why we trained and worked hard to become social workers?

Being on twitter and reading the feed stream of tweets the answer to this is clear that caring does not get close to describing what social work is or should be doing.  Reading articles in Community Care (now online – Boo!) and in the daily news print highlights some of the issue that as social workers we have to deal with on a daily basis.

Poverty, Unemployment, lack of Education, Drugs, Domestic abuse, Services being cut, Budgets being cut.  This is also without Benefit changes, Mental Health, Physical health issues and other social issues.  As social workers there is a need to challenge these changes, challenge societies views of discrimination, racism, and abuse and neglect.  Sadly this is always going to be a difficult subject, as profit and greed are big motivator for all business, including banks and the current government.

And so to make the changes necessary to promote everyone’s improvement in poverty, housing, employment and their mental health this profit will need to be eaten into.  Something, that know one wants to do as they enjoy their own benefits of being in power and the profit that can be made during this time and afterwards.

Caring is not enough to describe the work that is undertaken, it may fuel the passion and fight.  For the long hours of reading, assessing and visiting to ensure positive outcomes for the clients that they are working with.  Often this work is unpaid, undervalued and not rewarded.  Caring may ensure the report is finished and done well for the person it is about, but it will not always get the service you want or where you want it.