After months of waiting, the launch for the Experiencing the Social Work World exhibition finally took place at the People’s History Museum this week. We had managed, we think, to keep much of the artwork concealed from the public so that we could surprise our guests on the night. From the feedback we gathered that evening, we think this had been a good idea. The reviews have been much more positive that we had anticipated and we are pleased that the launch, and the exhibition, have, so far, been well received.
We have been aware for some time that social workers are often unable to report on the practice that they have carried out with children and adults due to issues of confidentiality. Their voices are in effect missing from any kind of public debate. This gap has been filled by media agencies with a particular view of the profession and this has played an important part in creating and maintaining a hostile kind of discourse. As a result, the reputation and standing of the social work profession has deteriorated in recent years and we think that this has affected social workers’ practice and identity in a number of different ways. We hope that the artwork and aural narratives at the exhibition provide the public with a different perspective; a more sensitive insight into what social work means to those who do social work on a daily basis.
However, something that we acknowledge is that social work is not an activity that is solely experienced by social workers. It is a practice that takes place between practitioners and the people they do social work with. While this exhibition has provided social workers with a space to tell their stories of their lived experiences of doing social work, the voices of service users are missing. We are pleased to announce therefore that we have recently been granted ethical approval to carry out a similar workshop with people who would like to use art to express their lived experiences of social work. To participate in this event, please click on the following link or look at the ‘Planned events’ link to register your interest.