Birmingham’s new social work students were greeted today by Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo, HSMC’s Prof. Jon Glasby and Prof. Sue White from the Institute of Applied Social Studies. The session looked at the origins of social work (Birmingham’s course is the oldest of its kind in the country, starting in 1908) as well as at the current challenges and opportunities facing the profession.
A key focus was on moving beyond compliance and often very moralistic responses to families with difficulties in their lives, to a more traditional social work focus on working with person in their family and community context, walking alongside the person and supporting people facing often traumatic changes to achieve chosen lifestyles. Unlike some welfare settings where there is a clear cut test or procedure that can be applied, this is often about ambiguity and complexity, about holding multiple perspectives (all of which can be true at once) and, if necessary, being ‘sceptically compassionate’. Despite lots of challenges, the new recruits to the social work programme felt it was an important time to be training as a social worker with lots of scope to make a positive difference.