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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Book groups prove useful learning tool for social workers

Written by The Editorial Team

More and more social work students and practitioners are using book groups as a method of enhancing their learning and continuing professional development, thanks to the efforts of a former Northern Ireland-based social worker.

Amanda Taylor worked in mental health social work in the South Eastern Trust for several years and is now a senior social work lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire. Amanda set up the first Social Work Book Group at the University and has seen the initiative grow in popularity, and regularly broadcasts discussions via live feeds and on social media including Twitter. Some social work students and teaching staff at Queen’s University Belfast have begun to participate in a Social Work Book Group and it is hoped that more will follow.

NISCC Professional Advisers Jan Houston and Helen McVicker participated in the recent book group discussion based on “Disappearing Home" by Deborah Morgan, which tells the story of ten-year-old girl Robyn’s tough childhood growing up in a Liverpool tenement block in the 1970’s.

Helen McVicker had this to say about the book: “The strength of the book for me lies in the fact that the story is told from the perspective of a ten year old child. The story is told quite matter of factly, yet very believably conveys the emotional impact of growing up in an environment characterised by chaos, poverty and violence. The mitigating influence of warm and positive relationships, in the case of Robyn, with her grandmother, is also highlighted. I think this book would provide social work practitioners with a good insight into the dynamics of relationships within a domestic abuse context and particularly the impact on children. For me, the powerlessness of the child in such situations was what really struck home.”

Jan Houston described how the Social Work Book Group is a good platform for social workers to enhance their learning and reflect on their practice: “The Social Work Book Group is a fantastic idea and we welcome any initiative that encourages students and practitioners to discuss and reflect on their practice. It is also a very useful tool for continuing professional development. Because the book group discussions can take place in a virtual world via social media, it is a cost-effective way for students and practitioners to share their opinions and learn from each other, wherever they are based.”

To take part in future discussions and keep up to date with the Social Work Book Group on Twitter, follow @SWBookGroup and use the hashtag #swbk.

Pictured: NISCC Professional Advisers Helen McVicker and Jan Houston