In this section
Service User and Carer Involvement in Social Work Education at Goldsmiths, University of London
Here at Goldsmiths we believe that service users and carers should be at the heart of all developments in social work, including social work education and training. To this end the Service User and Carer Steering Group was established in 2007 and since then we have been working with members of our Service User and Career Steering Group to integrate and enhance service user and carer involvement across all aspects of our programmes; namely course design, selection of students, teaching and learning, student assessment and programme management.
Service users and carers have been involved in the design of:
- the BA Social Work
- the MA Social Work
- the MA Social Work (Step-Up) employment-based programme
- the Post-Qualifying (PQ) programme
- the MA Practice Education
Service users and carers are working with the social work team to review the content and delivery of the BA and MA in Social Work in line with the Social Work Reform Board Recommendations.
Selection of students
Service users and carers have attended an induction on the social work admissions process at Goldsmiths and been actively involved in the admissions process, including:
- reviewing the written test (article/ questions) sat by applicants
- reviewing the interview questions asked when interviewing applicants
- interviewing applicants to the BA in Social Work and MA in Social Work alongside a member of the Goldsmiths social work team, or alongside a member of the Goldsmiths social work team and a social work practitioner from one of our partner stakeholder agencies
Service users and carers are part of a working group that is ensuring the social work admissions process meets the Social Work Reform Board recommendations for the selection of students.
Teaching and learning
Service users and carers have been involved in teaching on the BA Social Work, the MA Social Work, the MA Social Work (Step-Up) and the Post Qualifying courses. Here are a few examples:
- a service user and carer workshop, “Telling It As It Is”, to help students develop their understanding of service users’ and carers’ lives and to provide an opportunity for service users, carers, students and lecturers to talk to and listen to each other. A range of service users and carers have participated in this workshop including care leaver, Luke Rodgers, a Black care leaver and mental health service users, Angela Morford and Melody Hancock.
- a service user and carer workshop on communication skills where service users and carers share their views and experiences with students. A number of service users and carers have contributed to this workshop including a Black care leaver and mental health service users, Angela Morford and Melody Hancock.
- a workshop with Jacqueline Walker, a past service user, drawing upon her memoir of her mother, Pilgrim State, which charts her childhood and her mother’s mental ill-health
- teaching on community care and personalisation by Charlie Foulkes, a disabled service user
- teaching on positive risk-taking by a mental health service user
- teaching on working in partnership by a mental health service user
- a transracially adopted adult and adoption panel member, Liz Sibthorpe, sharing her experience of transracial adoption and discussing the importance of race, ethnicity and culture in adoption
- a Black care leaver speaking about her experience of being in foster care and answering any questions students may have
- teaching on substance use by a woman who has a history of using drugs and/or alcohol
- a service user workshop on refugees and asylum seekers delivered by Dr. Zibiah Alfred from the Evelyn Oldfield Unit and two service users with experience of seeking asylum and/or being a refugee
- service users and carers have spoken to Practice Educators about their experience of working with students and of contributing to social work education and training
Student feedback to date has consistently identified input from service users and carers as one of the most memorable and effective elements of the course. Therefore, we are committed to continuing and strengthening this aspect of our work.
Feedback from BA in Social Work students on a service user workshop on refugees and asylum seekers held on 11 December 2012:
- “I have more understanding of the intricate difficulties faced by asylum seekers”
- “Fantastic for helping me to think broader and consider health, gender issues”
- “Good session - provided a good understanding of case scenarios for social workers and services which can support them”
- “Exercise was given to think about how as social work students we would deal with each case study. We also had to think [about] how asylum seekers may feel away from their homeland”.
- “The lecturers were very knowledgeable in the areas of immigration and asylum. There was sharing of their experiences that was informative and interesting”.
Feedback from MA in Social Work (Step-Up) employment-based students on a service user workshop held on 17 February 2012:
- "Brilliant to get perspectives from someone who has been a service user and see from a different angle the struggles they face prior to social services involvement"
- "It made me reconsider the contact I've had with young people and service users - what methods I should adopt and develop"
- "I thoroughly enjoyed being challenged to think from a different point of view"
- "In future will take on board that there is always a history and personal perspective of the people we are working with"
Service users and carers have contributed to multi- media resources used for teaching purposes. DVDs and videos charting both positive and negative experiences of being on the receiving end of social work have been used in teaching. Here are a few examples:
- ‘Child Protection Enquiries: Mothers Talk About Their Families’ (1996 NCH/ FRG)
- ‘Readings from The Colours In Me’ (adopted children) (2009 BAAF)
- ‘Love is Not Enough: Experiences in Transracial Adoption’ (transnationally and transracially adopted adults) (2000 Infactuation Productions)
- ‘Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people - people with mental health needs: Alison's story’ (SCIE Social Care TV)
- ‘Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people - people with learning disabilities: Richard's story’ (SCIE Social Care TV)
- ‘Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people - older people and residential care: Roger's story’ (SCIE Social Care TV)
- ‘Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people – partners in adoption services: Nick's story’ (SCIE Social Care TV)
A training video, Speak Up, Speak Out, was recorded at a Consultation Day attended by over 70 service users and carers held on 11.4.06 and made by Joan Fletcher, lecturer in social work. A clip of this training video which focuses on “The qualities required of a social worker” is available to students across all our programmes via learn.gold (the Goldsmiths Virtual Learning Environment).
A film of care leavers talking about their experiences of being in care was made in 2004 by the young people and Liz Green and Tom Wilks, former lecturers in social work at Goldsmiths. This has been used in teaching on care planning for looked after children.
The experience of ‘Christine’, a young person who grew up in care from the age of 8 and identified as lesbian at the age of 14, has been shared with students in workshops on social work with lesbian, gay and bisexual service users (with ‘Christine’s’ permission).
Narratives by service users have been used in teaching e.g. from In Search of Belonging: Reflections by transracially adopted people, edited by Perlita Harris, lecturer in social work.
In addition, course reading lists include writing, films and DVDs by service users, service user activists and service user researchers/ academics, and some websites of service user organisations.
Service user and carer involvement has included:
- reviewing student placement forms designed to capture service user and carer feedback on students’ practice, on placements
- feedback from service users and carers is required for all social work students on placement
- reviewing assessed Preparation for Practice portfolios on the MA Social Work (Step Up) programme (from 2012)
The Chair of the Service User and Carer Steering Group sits on the Goldsmiths Social Work Stakeholders’ Committee.
Service User and Carer Steering Group
The purpose of the Service User and Carer Steering Group is:
- To provide a focus point for consultation on, the design, delivery, management and evaluation of all aspects of social work education and training at Goldsmiths
- To work in close cooperation with the Goldsmiths Social Work Stakeholders’ Committee, sending a representative to this Committee, as and when the need arises
- To raise issues of concern and help resolve problems raised by students, tutors or employers
The Chair of the Service User and Carer Steering Group is Pauline Edwards (from Together/ SLAM - Recovery Trainer of Staff). The Steering Group meets once per term and comprises a diverse range of individuals with experience of being on the receiving end of social work services and/or of being a carer.
We invite you to contact us if you are a service user and/or carer and are interested in contributing to social work education at Goldsmiths by contacting the Service User and Carer Steering Group Secretary, Liz Green at e.green (@gold.ac.uk).