Spotlight – The Problem Solver’s Practice Manual

“Where there are people, there will be problems, but there will also be potential” is a key part of Neil’s work. And that is precisely what this manual is all about – equipping practitioners from various professional disciplines to help people address their problems and realise their potential. Part One provides an extended essay on the nature and significance of problem solving to lay solid foundations of understanding. Part Two then offers guidance on using 101 problem-solving tools that can be used in a wide variety of circumstances.

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The Professional Social Worker: An essential text for all social workers

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Boundaries of responsibility

There are some things that each one of us is responsible for – that is, they are individual responsibilities.  I have to do what I have to do and you have to do what you have to do. Some things are shared responsibilities – that is, we have to do them together. Teamwork is a good example of this. Developing effective teamwork is the responsibility of every team member, not just the leader. Then there are also responsibilities that belong to other people – they are not mine, they are not yours, they are not ours. It is important to be aware of these boundaries as it can be quite problematic and potentially stressful if: (i) we do not fulfil our individual responsibilities; (ii) we do not contribute to our shared responsibilities; or (iii) we overload ourselves by taking on responsibilities that are not ours, that belong elsewhere. The detrimental consequences of losing sight of these boundaries can be quite significant.

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What is person-centred care and why is it important?

Person-centred care is a way of thinking and doing things that sees the people using health and social services as equal partners in planning, developing and monitoring care to make sure it meets their needs. This means putting people and their families at the centre of decisions and seeing them as experts, working alongside professionals to get the best outcome.

Person-centred care is not just about giving people whatever they want or providing information. It is about considering people’s desires, values, family situations, social circumstances and lifestyles; seeing the person as an individual, and working together to develop appropriate solutions.

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Meet the UNICEF Youth Advocates of 2021

Our global cohort of young voices and faces comprises thought leaders with diverse goals. From bridging the digital divide in education to fighting climate change to championing LGBTQI+ rights and social justice, these young advocates are speaking out and taking action for children and adolescent rights.

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Ensuring every older person is treated with dignity as a unique individual

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Children of prisoners – Fixing a broken system

When the criminal justice system and the courts put a parent in prison, it generates problems for the child(ren),
family members, schools and children’s services. But the two arms of the state don’t speak to each other.
There is no system to facilitate communication between the courts which sentence people and bodies with
responsibilities for children. It is not beyond the wit of public services to join the dots, and the impact on the
welfare of children would be profound were they to do so.

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It’s all about people: visit Neil Thompson’s humansolutions website

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Negotiate your workload

My Time and Workload Management e-learning course emphasizes that too much work is too much work – that is, everyone has a limit to how much they can get done in a given timeframe. However, some people get themselves into difficulties by taking on everything that comes their way. They feel obliged to say yes to everything even if this means they may become overloaded to the point that they risk becoming stressed and possibly practising dangerously because of that. A key skill, then, is being able to successfully negotiate our workload. If we take on more than we can reasonably cope with then we are likely to achieve far less than if we had kept our workload within manageable limits, and we also risk things going tragically wrong. Some people find it very difficult to be assertive about their workload limits, but allowing ourselves to get into that dangerous overload zone is very unwise.

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The Authentic Leader A new approach to leadership in Neil’s important book.

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Researchers want to create safe, inclusive virtual reality hangouts for teens

The advent of the internet shifted how we socialise. Chat rooms, forums, and eventually social media platforms opened up new ways to both communicate and express ourselves. Online anonymity, for example, allowed us to be whoever we pleased to anyone with a connection — for better or worse. Psychological research followed this shift, and decades later there are troves of papers on almost every aspect of online interaction you could hope to explore.

As technology continues to march onwards, it’s brought with it increasingly accessible options for socialising in virtual reality (VR). Though VR is by definition virtual, the experiences users have in it are very much real. Since VR’s accessibility is so recent, we currently don’t have good understanding of what users get out of socialising in these spaces, or even a solid grasp of potential risks associated with them. With rapidly increasing uptake, especially in a time of mass isolation, that’s a pretty big blind spot.

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LinkedIn: Connect online & join Neil Thompson’s HUMANSOLUTIONS discussion group

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Lived experience influencing policy – How we did it

A group of people with lived experience of poverty have enjoyed success in their campaign for their voices and experiences to be included in policy discussions, debates and solutions. Group member Tracey Herrington tells their story.

The Poverty2Solutions journey began over three years ago. Three grassroots organisations led by people with lived experience of poverty (ATD Fourth World, Dole Animators and Thrive Teesside) teamed up with Dr Ruth Patrick from the University of York and graphic designer Dan Farley to share and merge their expertise. Our aspiration is to ensure that the voice of lived experience is taken seriously and can inform decisions that have an impact on the lives of people in low-income communities.

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A fresh look at social work theory and methods

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5 checks to see if you’ve been greenwashed by a ‘sustainable’ product

When you’re trying to buy products that don’t contribute towards climate change, words like “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” on packaging can suck you in. You might also be drawn towards big businesses who’ve made headline-grabbing, green pledges. But unfortunately, not all is as it seems. While some products and brands are making environmentally-friendly changes, others are simply capitalising on the moment, without actually making a meaningful difference.

This marketing ploy is known as greenwashing – when companies make spurious environmental claims about their products or services. And as journalist Sophia Smith Galer pointed out, even some of the sponsors of the COP26 climate conference are guilty of it. Greenwashing is not a new trend and brands have been in trouble in the past for disingenuous eco claims. So, how exactly can you spot signs of it?

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A practical guide to supervision of students & other forms of workplace learning

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Spotlight – The Managing Stress Practice Manual

A much-needed resource in these pressurised times. Keeping pressures within manageable limits is a very demanding undertaking in these modern challenging times. This manual provides important practical guidance eon managing pressure and keeping stress at bay. Essential reading for all busy practitioners and managers.

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Effective Teamwork: The importance of working together

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – There’s no point rushing

‘More haste less speed’ is a well-known saying and it has more than a grain of truth to it. So many people tend to respond to pressure by rushing, and this is a dangerously counterproductive strategy. When we rush our error rate goes up significantly and our sense of control goes down significantly – and, of course, losing our sense of control is a major step in the direction of stress. What is also significant is that, when we start rushing, we start giving people the message that they are not important, that we have more pressing things to do than to listen to them and take in an interest in them. Working slightly faster than usual is one thing, rushing is quite another. If we find ourselves in a position where we feel the need to rush, that is the time to start reordering our priorities – taking our thinking up a gear, rather than letting it go down a gear by rushing.

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Seth Godin’s Blog – Books unread

I was sitting in a friend’s study the other day, and noticed that he had hundreds of books I’d never read.

Each was written, perhaps over the course of a year (or a decade), by a smart, passionate person with something to share. All of that focus and insight, generously shared with anyone who wants to take the time.

It reminded me of how much is out there, just waiting for us to explore and understand. We have a chance to learn and move forward if we care to.

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Not a textbook, a hands-on manual of practice guidance. An essential resource!

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Trussell Trust – Research and Advocacy

Our vision is for a future without the need for food banks. To realise this, we need a benefits system that works for everyone  and secure incomes so people can afford the essentials like food and heating. Our policy asks and campaigning are rooted in evidence from food banks in our network across the UK, and the people they support.

We use our evidence to campaign for change so that in the future no one needs to use a food bank. We do this by sharing our evidence with policy makers and the public to ensure they understand fully the state of hunger and poverty in the UK.

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How to Do Social Work: A basic guide from one of social work’s leading authors

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Rising poverty among children and pensioners shows why Covid inquiry must consider its impact

The independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is calling for any public inquiry into Covid-19 to examine the impact of the UK’s high poverty levels going into the pandemic on its health and economic impacts.

Commenting on the figures, Helen Barnard, Director of JRF said:

“Going into the pandemic, 14.5 million people were trapped in poverty, with 600,000 more children and 500,000 more pensioners pulled into poverty in the last six years. Around half of all lone parents and people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds were living in poverty. In a society like ours, this is indefensible.

“The evidence we have so far from our own research and conversations with people experiencing poverty shows that the pandemic has made an already difficult situation much tougher. Millions of people who were already locked in poverty by insecure low-paid jobs and expensive housing found themselves at an increased risk of catching the virus.

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Spotlight – The Spirituality and Religion Practice Manual

Spirituality, whether or not rooted in religion, is a core feature of what it means to be human. In this important practice manual, two very experienced writers and educators explain  why spirituality and religion should be a fundamental consideration for the people professions, broadly defined – that is, professions based on helping people tackle their problems and fulfil their potential.

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The Professional Social Worker: An essential text for all social workers

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Allow time for recovery

Our muscles need time to recover form exertion before we exert ourselves further if we are not to strain them. The same applies to our mental and emotional ‘muscles’. If we keep stretching ourselves in our work efforts (and in our lives more broadly) without giving ourselves time to recover, we run the risk of doing ourselves harm, potentially significant harm. Exertion plus recovery plus more exertion can produce growth and development (of muscles in the direct physical sense or of learning in our more metaphorical sense). Exertion followed by more exertion without recovery time in between can produce muscle strain and/or psychological stress. Time for recovery is therefore not an optional extra of we are to take our physical and mental health seriously.

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