Funding received from Lancaster University to begin the Experiencing the Social Work World Project

We learned last week that Lancaster University have kindly given us funding to begin the Experiencing the Social Work World project. Ethical approval has now been received and we are currently recruiting social workers to take part. Workshops will take place in July. The display of the artwork and social workers narratives will be held at the People’s History Museum, Manchester April-June 2017. For more information please contact j.t.leigh@sheffield.ac.uk.

Below is part of the successful funding application written by Lisa Morriss:

The ghosts of murdered children – Baby P, Victoria Climbié and Daniel Pelka – haunt child protection social work. To be haunted is ‘to be in a heightened state of awareness; the hairs on our neck stand up: being affected by haunting, our bodies become alert, sensitive’ (Ferreday and Kuntsman, 2011 p.9). The very real possibility of another child death permeates social work practice; thus, haunting is not just a matter of the past or even the present, haunting is also a matter of the future (Ferreday and Kuntsman, 2011). Social workers are hyper vigilant that any decision that they take may lead to a future where another child dies. Following Gordon, the aim of the project is to take an emergent rather than a fatalistic conception of haunting. Gordon (2011) shows that haunting creates conditions that also invite action: there becomes a critical analytic moment where there is a demand for re-narrativization. The project aims to achieve this through an arts-based approach. Capous Desyllas (2014: 478) argued this approach ‘transforms, empowers, and has the potential for creating social change through creativity’.

Ten social workers will take part in a workshop where an experienced artist will introduce methods such as clay modelling; collage assembly; doll making; and photography. Participants will be able to choose an artistic tool that they feel most comfortable working with and use this to create artwork to represent their lived experience of being a social worker. Using a narrative approach, participants will be interviewed so that the story behind their artwork can be explored. The artwork that is produced will be exhibited at a museum and a conference. As Ferreday and Kuntsman (2011 p.9) conclude, ‘when we open ourselves to being haunted, we might find that the present and its possibilities are transformed, with radical consequences’.

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