It’s no surprise that as a social worker I love conversations. Words, language, discussion, sharing thoughts and ideas, and listening; all some of my favourite activities.
Starting a podcast in 2022 began as an extension of my online platform. There were only so many characters I could fit into an instagram post and I had more I wanted to say (to find out more about how I went from Social Work to Social Work Sorted listen here).
It wasn’t until the lovely Jo Schofield suggested guest chats that it occurred to me I could invite people to come on and talk to me, and that they would say ‘yes’.
I have taken so much learning from each conversation. It has been a pleasure to be able to share them with new social workers at a time when I know you need positivity, hope and voices of experience.
I tried to put all my reflections in one blog post but it was proving rather lengthy. Instead I thought about the lessons from each episode and how they link. My memories of talking to Ann Marie Christian, Lena Dominelli and Tim Fisher interconnect with global ideas and when I think back to the conversations I think of moving spheres, circles, impact and ripple effects.
When I started the podcast I made a ‘wish list’ of dream guests. To the top of the list was Ann Marie Christian. I’ll be honest, one of the reasons was complete job envy. Following Ann Marie on Instagram sees her flying all over the world to deliver international safeguarding training. This is of course, a product of years working with children, families, schools and educators, honing her craft.
Ann Marie drops pearls of wisdom throughout the conversation but it really made me think about international perspectives on safeguarding.
This conversation opened my eyes again and sparked a bigger plan for travel and learning that I started working towards immediately after talking to Ann Marie. Ann Marie shares her experience in working in countries across the world and we talk about how highly problematic a Eurocentric model of social work can be.
During my conversation with Ann Marie we talked about anti-racist practice in social work. She was sat in her office and she held up a well used copy of Anti-racist social work, by Lena Dominelli.
It sparked another thought which led to Professor Lena Dominelli joining me on an episode of the podcast. It was a privilege to share thoughts and ideas, but most importantly to listen to Lena’s wisdom.
Lena spoke in detail about her social work journey and her learning from working in communities affected by disasters. Her advice for new social workers was to think globally - because we live on one planet, and it’s an interdependent world. She talked about the transferable skills in social work, and how they translate to social work in disasters and communities.
"And we always plan, We plan an action plan. Hopefully we're all good social workers and we involve the people in co-production as I call it now. In like saying, Okay, and it isn't just them telling me what to do, it's actually a real conversation. I say 'what you're saying is good, but there is this problem about it'.
And I let them say 'what you are saying is good, but I don't like this part of it'. We come up with something new and that always produces a better outcome. And then we implement our action plan and we evaluate it. And then when another disaster comes along, or a shock or a piece of bad behaviour, we evaluate what we've done and we try to figure out ‘where did we go wrong’?
What have we done wrong? So all the skills. You're applying them in a different context."
As I said at the start, when I think of these conversations I think of circles and connection. When I reflect on the macro and micro learning from these conversations I am reminded of talking to Tim Fisher about family group conferencing, parental advocacy and community.
If it feels too big to think internationally then start with one relationship. Start with one conversation. Talking to Tim about the ideas that have taken shape within Camden and evolved into a successful model for co-production was a reminder for me that change starts small but is entirely possible.
"It's something that the American activist and community organizer, Adrienne Marie Brown says, ‘you move at the speed of trust and try and get something going’. Get a group of people, get a coalition of the willing- the phrase that they used in leads to get their social work going there - to get a coalition of the willing. We, I think in social work sometimes we've got this kind of idea around I, I mean it's an important concept about access and and rights and fairness, but I think sometimes that blocks us from, just making a start with people who want to do it."
Listen to the episodes here:
It’s a pleasure to share these conversations with you. I’d love to know your thoughts, reflections and ideas after listening. Get in touch here.