UPDATE 17:14 31/12/22: Minutes after publishing this blog, I learned that father, grandfather, husband, care experienced campaigner, social worker and one of the most solidly decent human beings I ever had the privilege to meet, Ian Dickson, has died. This one’s for Ian, whose encouragement was a reliable constant.
Part of me is reluctant to do a round up of my professional year because, well, they’re pretty annoying really aren’t they? But to be honest there is another part of me that is quite proud of this working class failed printer from the estates of west central Scotland and north east England so I’m going to inflict this list of my 2022 highlights on whoever will listen regardless.
This year, I landed my first permanent job in academia, as a lecturer in social work, social care and community studies at Leeds Beckett University. This followed an opportunity to be seconded while a practitioner to Northumbria University for a year, made possible via the regional Teaching Partnership.
I left school at 16 to become a trainee printer, failed spectacularly and for the next 20+ years my life could have taken any of number of dark turns but somehow found my way to social work via a roundabout excursion through government- and EU-subsidised college and university education, and life- and career-defining pre-qualifying jobs in mental health support work and community mental health work. I was the first in my family to go to university and I am so very grateful for the opportunities having a professional qualification has provided — truly too many to list here but I sincerely hope those who have had a positive impact on me on the way are aware of the fact. I thank you all. I am truly very fortunate, and I guess New Year is a time to reflect on that. Which conveniently provides further justification for this thinly-disguised jamboree of self-regard.
Publications. This year, I am proud to have co-authored, with Nick Watts (@nickinoxford) director of the fabulous Together with Migrant Children, this piece on dissenting social work which appeared in a special section of Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Journal (@AotearoaJ). A few ambitions (I don't have many) ticked off right there!
I've also led/co-authored/authored chapters for forthcoming books by a variety of editors and publishers, on topics ranging from Covid-19 responses, neoliberal hegemony and the insidious privatisation of social work employment by recruitment agencies. I've also been busy co-editing a not insignificant publishing project myself, involving some important contributions to a key area of debate. Details on all of those to come in 2023.
Articles. I’m very grateful to Social Work Today (@SocWorkToday) for publishing this bit on class and classism in social work and this, on the fabulous forthcoming #FreeLoavesOnFridays book edited by the estimable Rebekah Pierre (@RebekahPierre92). If you don't know about this one yet, acquaint yourselves and, if you're care experienced, please consider submitting something from your unique and valuable perspective.
Blogs. I’ve not published as many this year (cos busy with other stuff) but I do appreciate the freedom of expression they afford. This one, the first of 2022, on the topic of how the media and social workers present narratives of the social work profession, is worth a repost I think.
I was proud to host this excellent piece by Joe Hanley (@JoeEHanley) on the networks of power and influence around the Teach First empire. Joe’s growing body of work on questionable network power in children’s services is an important contribution to the literature and he’s well worth looking up on social media and in critical academic spaces, in social work and, increasingly, in education too. This is the kind of network we need more of.
I've also continued in my role as one of the resource review editors for Practice: Social Work in Action, and spoke on publishing in the journal at BASW AGM 2022 alongside Robin Sen (@robin_23_99) who deserves extra-special mention for his mentoring and support of me and others and for the writing partnership we have developed since he originated the Social Work 2020–21 under Covid-19 editorial collective.
Finally, I'm proud to have been chair of @BASW_NorthEast for the past two years. I now step down from that role as of today. Here's just a few highlights from this year:
- Joint statement with Coventry & Warwickshire branches on UK social work’s links to global businesses reported to be engaged in unethical, immoral and illegal activities
- BASW North East’s three motions to BASW AGM 2022 on class and classism in social work, privatisation and marketisation in social care and the role and tenure of the Chief Social Worker were all passed by members on the day and we await the outcome of internal discussions on these
- Branch discussion event with Sandra Simpson (@SandiLSimpson85 / @SWPracademic) on media representation of social work and the relationship with institutionalised humiliation
- Branch fundraisers for aforementions #FreeLoavesOnFriday and Youth Care and Children Nebbi-Uganda — follow @KumakechFranci2 on Twitter for updates on how the money is being used to meet the needs of children, young people and elders that Francis and the team support.
Finally, finally (!) my recommended Twitter follow for the year is @ECC_Exposed which provides a parent’s perspective from direct experience on various issues relating to social work. See their detailed and prolific blog here.
May the New Year bring you peace and prosperity and whatever you need to enjoy both. See you next year! X