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Let's Talk Social Work

My Way: exploring independent social work

With independence comes opportunities as well as risks. Andy McClenaghan is joined by Independent social workers Michelle Strain, Jo Fox and Gareth McGibbon to explore the benefits as well as the costs of stepping out and practicing as an Independent social worker.

They discuss the variety of roles Independent social workers undertake, how to maintain a healthy work life balance when you are your own boss, the challenges of marketing yourself, how to ensure sufficient peer support, and keeping up to date with developments in practice and regulatory requirements.

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  • What does the Labour landslide mean for adult social care in England?

    In the last episode of the podcast before we take a break for the summer, Andy and guests have an opportunity to reflect on the outcome of the UK general election and explore what the changed political landscape will mean for adult social care in England, reflecting on potential impacts for social workers and people who use services. Andy is joined by Vice Chair of BASW England and Co-Chair of its Adult Thematic Group, Jackie Mahoney, BASW UK Council member and Expert by Experience, Mark Lynes, and BASW England’s Policy & Campaigns Officer, Josh Dixon.The episode begins with reflections on the changed political landscape and touches on BASW’s campaign to remove the Universal Credit two-child limit. The conversation then switches to focus on priority issues in adult social care in England and the importance of coproduction and meaningful involvement of experts by experience in the design of adult social care services. Mark’s contribution to the discussion on coproduction was itself coproduced and he wishes to thank his colleague, Omar Mohammed for his support.The conversation concludes with a discussion about the need for investment in increasing the amount of good-quality social housing in the UK and BASW’s call for on-going investment in specialist and supported housing.The BASW 2024 general election manifesto referenced in the discussion is available here.
  • Operation Encompass

    In this episode, number 84 in our series, Andy McClenaghan and guests discuss Operation Encompass—a police and education early information safeguarding partnership enabling schools to offer immediate support to children experiencing domestic abuse.Andy is joined by founders of Operation Encompass, David Carney-Haworth OBE and Elisabeth Carney-Haworth OBE, and social worker James Draper. James is Designated Officer for Child Protection at the Northern Ireland Education Authority. Together they explore the benefits of the project along with the merits and challenges of multi-agency working.Operation Encompass launched in February 2011 and it is conservatively estimated that over 1.5million children have been supported as a result.
  • Reflective Supervision

    In this episode we explore reflective supervision—what it is, how it can benefit social workers by improving their wellbeing and job satisfaction, and ultimately, how it can improve practice.The Social Workers Union, in partnership with Buckinghamshire New University has recently published a best practice guide on reflective supervision which you can access here. John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union, Professor Jermaine Ravalier from Buckinghamshire New University, and Social Worker Chrissie Beatty who works for BCP Council join Andy McClenaghan for an in-depth discussion about reflective supervision.
  • Wake Up Call—a conversation exploring first-hand accounts of living in the care system, as detailed in the anthology, ‘Free Loaves on Fridays’

    Andy is joined by Bekah Pierre and Alice Spencer to discuss the wonderful anthology—Free Loaves on Fridays. Free Loaves on Fridays is a collection of stories and essays, poems, reflections and open letters, detailing the lives of care experienced people. It is a special work—bursting with humanity. As diverse as the experiences of its contributors, the anthology viscerally details pain and trauma, while celebrating the life changing impacts of love and acceptance in foster and adoptive families, and the transformative potential of child-centred, relationship-based, trauma-informed social work.Both Bekah and Alice have experience of living in care and contributed chapters to the book. Bekah also edited the anthology.It is available now, published by Unbound. You can buy a copy here. 
  • School Social Work

    School social work is long established in the USA but in its infancy in Northern Ireland. This episode examines the nature of school social work with a view to learning from the discipline in the United States and exploring how this understanding can be applied to the emerging practice in Northern Ireland. Andy is joined by Robert Lucio, Associate Professor and Online Program Director at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work, Chair of the NASW School Social Work Section Committee and a Board Member of the School Social Work Association of America, Orlaith McGibbon, Independent social worker and Chair of the British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland, and school social worker Charlene Hill based at St Ronan's College in Lurgan.During discussion about approaches to assessing the impact of school social work, reference is made to the Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) Trial conducted in England between September 2020 and July 2022. The project report and evaluation can be accessed here.
  • Poverty is a political choice

    Following our last episode exploring the BASW UK General Election Manifesto, we examine the issue of poverty and what needs to change to improve the circumstances of millions of people across the UK. Comprising two sections, first Andy is joined by friend of the podcast, social worker and anti-poverty campaigner, Dominic Watters, and Director of Policy, Research and Impact at the Trussell Trust, Helen Barnard. They discuss the scale of foodbank use across the UK and consider the specific challenges facing unpaid carers and care experienced people. In the second section, Andy speaks with BASW UK Chair, Julia Ross about why she has placed campaigning to challenge the impacts of poverty and the factors which cause poverty at the heart of her priorities as she leads the Association.During the discussion Dominic refers to the Food Foundation report, Food insecurity among single parent families. You can access it hereBASW’s General Election Manifesto outlines the Association’s anti-poverty, housing and mental health asks mentioned by Julia.You can access the Trussell’s Trust’s various briefing papers here (the papers are at the bottom of the page).
  • A Change Would Do You Good—Exploring BASW’s 2024 General Election Manifesto

    A general election is coming. When it will be, no one is quite sure, but what we do know is what needs to change to improve situations for social workers and the people who use social work services. This is the focus of this episode of Let’s Talk Social Work as Andy McClenaghan and guests discuss the asks outlined in the British Association of Social Workers 2024 General Election Manifesto.Joining Andy are Kerri Prince, BASW’s Public and Political Affairs Lead, and Martin Sexton, outgoing Chair of BASW’s Policy Ethics and Human Rights Committee.The conversation centres around the five manifesto asks BASW is prioritising. They are:Scrap the two-child limit and benefit capRepeal the 2023 Illegal Migration ActIncrease the non-taxable mileage rate allowance to 60p a mileThe need for a new mental health ActThe reform of social work student bursariesThere are forty asks in total in the manifesto. You can read them all here.
  • ‘Don’t park the bus’ — exploring the benefits of coaching in social work

    A first for Let’s Talk Social Work, Andy McClenaghan and guests discuss the benefits of coaching in social work. The conversation explores what coaching is and how engaging in coaching can be an opportunity to receive support and guidance, develop skills and navigate career paths, and how it is a helpful way to engage in self-reflection. As well as looking at what coaching is, the discussion examines what it isn’t, exploring how it differs from counselling or psychotherapy. The episode also explores who can benefit from coaching and how to get involved.Joining Andy are professional coaches Tinu Ashaye, Keith Dyer and Kate Cuthbertson. Tinu, Keith and Kate are all social workers who between them have a wealth of practice experience. Kate also oversees BASW’s Social Work Professional Support Service, which is discussed in detail during the episode.For more information on BASW’s Social Work Professional Support Service, please visit the BASW website.