Social work students as community partners in a family intervention programme

Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Bernadette Thomas, Lynn McDonald

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Abstract

This paper describes the findings from the evaluation of a UK initiative which engaged social work students as community partners within an educational-based family intervention programme. Fourteen social work students in the first year of a BA (Hons) were placed in the programme to meet the volunteering requirements of their ‘Community Project’. By engaging with the community-based family programme at an early stage in their education, students experienced the benefits of interventions, focussing on sustainability, citizenship and parent participation. We describe the approach and discuss the evaluation outcomes to illustrate the potential of utilising co-learning with families in social work education. In taking up the role of community partners, students observed first-hand the value of incorporating horizontal relationships into their learning and experienced direct knowledge exchange with service users at an early stage in their training. The findings suggest that this experience enabled students to connect with conceptualisations of macro alongside micro practice in their professional development as social workers. Further, connecting critical social theories with the direct experience of families promoted the learners own empowerment and conscientisation. This provided a means of embedding social work values and aspirations towards social justice in their future practice orientation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-617
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Work
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • social work
  • children and families
  • community Work
  • family intervention
  • social Work intervention
  • social Work education

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