Spotlight – The Learning from Practice Manual

An essential resource for practice educators and study supervisors. Helping others to learn is a skilled job. This practical guide offers extensive advice and guidance on how to get the best results, whether in student supervision or any other process of helping colleagues to learn.

Available from here or from Amazon.

Sociological insights to help understand people’s lives and their challenges

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Keep your records up to date

There is a general expectation that professionals should keep a record of their work. Such records can often be assigned a secondary role and dismissed as relatively unimportant – just the ‘paperwork’. Although this is understandable, we also have to bear in mind that record keeping is a form of professional communication – the absence of which can at times be potentially disastrous. What can easily happen is that a vicious circle can develop: record keeping is put off so that, by the time the professional concerned gets round to getting records up to date, there is an annoying and energy-sapping backlog. Dealing with a backlog of ‘boring records’ can demotivate us and make it even harder to keep up. What also contributes to the vicious circle is that the bigger the gap between the work being undertaken and the record of it being made, the harder it is to remember the details of what happened and the greater the risk of inaccuracies and mistakes (and the longer it takes to do the records if we are racking our brains trying to remember the details). So, all in all, there is much to be gained from developing a system and pattern of work that enables us to keep our records up to date and to avoid the problems that can ensue if we don’t.

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

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Stereotypes damage us all

Gender stereotypes strike early. From the age of six, children associate traits like ‘intelligence’ with being a boy and ‘niceness’ with being a girl. Gender stereotypes continue to damage children everywhere – and affect their whole life. Young men and boys who hold rigid beliefs about gender stereotypes are more likely to be perpetrators of violence against women and girls. We hear from girls who have low self-esteem and feel insecure, with one in five 14-year-old girls self-harming. This is heart-breaking and it cannot continue.

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Connect with Neil Thompson online! For Neil's blog and more resources

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Theme of Refugee Week 2021: We cannot walk alone

There is a moment in Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I have a dream’ speech when he turns his attention to the White people who, realising their destiny and that of their Black fellow citizens was intertwined, joined the movement for equal rights.

“They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom,” he said. “We cannot walk alone.”

Life is tough for many of us right now, and the future feels very uncertain. Looking after ourselves, our families and communities takes time and energy. There is so much to do. The challenges of the past year have exposed the deep inequalities between us, including in housing, income and access to healthcare. But the crisis has also shown how interconnected we are – that the wellbeing of each of us depends on the welfare, safety and hard work of others. We are part of a shared ‘us’.

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Brain fog: How trauma, uncertainty and isolation have affected our minds and memory

Before the pandemic, psychoanalyst Josh Cohen’s patients might come into his consulting room, lie down on the couch and talk about the traffic or the weather, or the rude person on the tube. Now they appear on his computer screen and tell him about brain fog. They talk with urgency of feeling unable to concentrate in meetings, to read, to follow intricately plotted television programmes. “There’s this sense of debilitation, of losing ordinary facility with everyday life; a forgetfulness and a kind of deskilling,” says Cohen, author of the self-help book How to Live. What to Do. Although restrictions are now easing across the UK, with greater freedom to circulate and socialise, he says lockdown for many of us has been “a contraction of life, and an almost parallel contraction of mental capacity”.

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

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Spotlight – Have you joined the Neil Thompson Academy yet?

Have you joined the Neil Thompson Academy yet?. There you will find information about Neil’s books, e-learning provision and his other services. Membership is free and gives access to a growing number of free learning resources. Don’t miss out, sign up today at www.NeilThompson.info.

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

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Set out your stall

If you are skilful at engaging with people and winning their trust, convincing them that you are a helpful and reliable person there is a danger that they will come to rely on you more and more and bring more and more of their problems and concerns to you. This can easily lead to you being overloaded, stretching yourself too thinly and potentially getting yourself into difficulties. So, it is important to be clear about what we can help with and what we can’t – to ‘set out our stall’, as it were. If we lose sight of the boundaries of our role and become a general helper, it can be confusing all round. It can also prove stressful, as it means we have no control over our workload – the demand can be potentially infinite if people start bringing to us issues and concerns that are not part of our remit. The ability to be effective in negotiating expectations (making it clear where our role begins and ends and sticking to it) can be difficult at times, but it remains an important skill to have if we are not to allow ourselves to be pulled in all directions.

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A fresh look at social work theory and methods

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New UK partnership to improve Adult Social Care

IMPACT (IMProving Adult Care Together) is the first of its kind in the UK and will bring together 37 agencies across the four countries of the UK including universities, the public and voluntary sectors and has secured £15 million in funding over the next five years. The aspiration of the partnership is: Good support isn’t just about services – it’s about having a life.

Social work is an essential part of the wider social care field. BASW has been active in the partnership bid from the beginning and Luke Geoghegan, Head of Policy and Research at BASW and a registered social worker, will be a member of the IMPACT leadership team. IMPACT will bring together people with lived experience of social care, those providing unpaid care, people working in adult social care, including social workers, experts in the mobilisation and implementation of evidence, social care providers, commissioners and policy experts, and academic teams from across the UK to share, and disseminate and implement robust evidence and good practice.

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The experience of being ‘tolerated’ rather than accepted, leads to lower wellbeing among ethnic groups

Tolerance is often touted as a progressive value, a way of ensuring that society offers equal opportunities to all. But it can also imply “putting up with” something or someone you fundamentally disagree with or dislike — being tolerated isn’t the same as being genuinely valued or respected, for example. As one writer puts it, tolerance has echoes “of at best grudging acceptance, and at worst ill-disguised hostility”.

Now a new study in the British Journal of Psychology has found that the experience of being tolerated takes its toll on the wellbeing of ethnic minorities in the United States. Sara Cvetkovska from Utrecht University and colleagues find that the experience of being tolerated is closer to discrimination than it is to acceptance — impacting overall wellbeing and increasing negative mood. In the first study, the team looked at how wellbeing related to the experience of being tolerated, compared to being accepted or discriminated against outright. Participants were non-white, belonged to a racial or ethnic minority group, and ranged from 17 to 73 years old.

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What is a Dementia Friends champion?

A Dementia Friends Champion is a volunteer who encourages others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community. They do this by giving them information about the personal impact of dementia, and what they can do to help. It’s easy to get involved. Dementia Friends Champions will attend an induction, receive support when they need it, and be part of thousands of other volunteer Dementia Friends Champions creating dementia friendly communities together.

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Sociological insights to help understand people’s lives and their challenges

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Don’t speak (or write) officialese

The level of formality at which we speak or write is known technically as the ‘register’. Sometimes it is appropriate to communicate fairly informally (informal register), while at others a more formal register is what is needed. However, some people confuse formal register with officialese. Perhaps this is a confidence issue: feeling not very confident about using a formal register may lead to stilted language use. Officialese is a style of language that is full of clichés and jargon terms and is unnecessarily convoluted. It is the opposite of plain language. It is perfectly possible to write formally within the bounds of plain language without resorting to officialese. In any form of communication, the major emphasis needs to be on clarity: am I getting across the point(s) I need to? Officialese stands in the way of clarity and is therefore no substitute for formal but clear language.

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Ending women’s homelessness: The next chapter

In the next chapter of our work on ending women’s homelessness, Homeless Link is innovatively leading the way as a catalyst for change within the homelessness sector, redressing the issue of homelessness as a gendered phenomenon by building capacity around gender-informed support. In a 2019 publication by Homeless Link and the Women’s Resource Centre, gender-informed support is defined as an approach that “seeks to adapt and configure elements of support or parts of the service to better support women in the way that works for them, noting that their experiences are different to men”.

As we enter the last few months of our Ending Women’s Homelessness Grants Programme, we are delighted to announce that the Garfield Weston Foundation is supporting us to deliver a new project which will enable us to assist the sector to improve the support, and outcomes, for women experiencing homelessness.

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

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Seth Godin’s blog – Three types of kindness

There is the kindness of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And the kindness of “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” The small kindnesses that smooth our interactions and help other people feel as though you’re aware of them. These don’t cost us much, in fact, in most settings, engaging with kindness is an essential part of connection, engagement and forward motion.

And then there is the kindness of dignity. Of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The kindness of seeing someone for the person that they are and can become, and the realization that everyone, including me and you, has a noise in our heads, a story to be told, fear to be danced with and dreams to be realized. And there’s another: The kindness of not seeking to maximize short-term personal gain. The kindness of building something for the community, of doing work that matters, of finding a resilient, anti-selfish path forward.

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

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The history, state and strategic implications of the psychological contract

On its own, the legal contract of employment offers a limited understanding of the employment relationship, with workers contributing little to its terms after accepting them. In this sense, the psychological contract may be more influential. It describes the perceptions of the relationship between employers and workers and influences how people behave from day to day. At its core, the psychological contract is built on the everyday actions and statements made by one party and how they are perceived and interpreted by the other. Unlike the legal contract of employment signed by employers and workers, it’s not tangible.

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Don’t be a rescuer

In conflict situations it is not uncommon for one or more parties to feel that they are being persecuted, that they are being treated unfairly. This is often due to the conflict concerned revolving around different perceptions of the situation. For example, where there are two people in conflict it is very common for each to perceive the other as being ‘difficult’ or ‘awkward’ – that is, each seeing the situation in personal, rather than interpersonal, terms. Where this occurs the result can be what is known as the ‘drama triangle’. This is where one person in the conflict (who plays the role of victim) draws in a third party to seek support (to be a rescuer) against the other party who is cast as the persecutor. If you are that third party and you allow yourself to be seduced into being a rescuer, you may then find yourself in difficulty when you discover that the alleged persecutor sees him- or herself as the victim and seeks to cast the other party as the persecutor. So, whenever you are called upon to ‘rescue’ someone from a difficult situation, first look at that situation carefully and particularly at any elements of conflict.

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