Social Work Awards

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Joe Duffy and David Hayes, both lecturers in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, received a prestigious Northern Ireland Social Work Award at a ceremony held at the Guildhall, Derry/Londonderry on Friday 20th September.

The Awards, this year hosted by the Western Health and Social Care Trust, are organised in partnership with the Health and Social Care Board, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the local Health and Social Care Trusts.  They promote and celebrate excellence in social work with awards being made in seven categories (four team awards and three individual awards) and an overall winner being selected from the seven award winners.

Duffy and Hayes received the Learning and Development Team award for an innovative teaching project which engages service users and carers in a meaningful way to assist first year social work students with their understanding of the complex and contested topic of social work values.  The project involves small groups of students visiting service user and carer groups in their own community settings with a set of pre-agreed questions designed to prompt discussion of how values are translated into practice.

Results from an evaluation of the project were published in the international journal 'Ethics and Social Welfare' in 2012. As the following quotes evidence, the project had a positive impact on both students, in terms of their understanding of social work values, and the participating service user and carer groups in terms of enabling them to make a meaningful contribution to the education and practice of future social workers:

"Hearing first hand accounts of the impact of both positive and negative social work practice on service users had a huge influence on my understanding of the importance of good values" (Student)

"We feel that we played an active role in helping the students understand values and to relate them to real life and working with young people" ( Young People's Group)

"It had a huge impact on me and raised issues about things like respect that I will never forget" (Student)

"We helped the students a lot.  They stopped seeing us as learning disability people and saw us as equals...they learnt that a person with a learning disability is an individual" (Learning Disability Group)

The project has been running since 2006 and has benefitted some 550 students and involved 14 different service user and carer groups.  It is supported by annual funding from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council to facilitate service user and carer involvement in the social work curriculum.

Duffy has developed this project internationally and has completed a DVD production in which service users and carers from Spain, Slovenia and Northern Ireland, in discussion with students, share their thoughts about social work values and how these are demonstrated in practice.  Duffy and Hayes have also transferred this model of learning into the next stage of the social work programme in order to help students with their understanding of empathy as a core social work skill.  They are also involved in a longer term project evaluating the impact of service user and carer involvement in social work education on subsequent professional practice.

For further information contact:

Joe Duffy:  Tel. 028 9097 5909

David Hayes:  Tel. 028 9097 5971

Period26 Sep 2013

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