Spotlight – Anti-racism for Beginners

The destructive and dehumanizing effects of racism are quite rightly receiving increased attention. In this short, introductory text, Neil Thompson welcomes this new emphasis but warns against the dangers of oversimplifying complex issues. This is an ideal book for anyone wanting to understand the importance of anti-racism and guidance in taking the necessary steps.

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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 – Manage your own learning

It is now increasingly being appreciated that self-directed learning is the most effective form of learning. That is, if we are able to identify for ourselves what we want or need to learn and how we are going to learn it, we are likely to be more motivated and the learning gained will be more suited to our own specific needs. Unfortunately, though, many people adopt a passive approach to learning – they assume that it is someone else’s job to take the lead, an ‘expert’ in learning like a teacher, tutor, trainer or mentor. Of course, such people can be very helpful as guides, advisers, sources of encouragement, support and ideas, but the more control we have over our own learning, the more effective it is likely to be – and the more committed we will be to continuing to learn throughout our careers. Teachers, tutors, trainers and mentors can often provide helpful maps of the learning territory, but we need to determine our own itinerary if we are to get the best results

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Hybrid and remote working in the North of England: Impact and future prospects

As the full scale and implications of the post-pandemic shift to hybrid working are becoming clearer, this new joint Work Foundation and Newcastle University Business School report provides insight into the challenges and opportunities related to remote working for businesses and places in the North of England. This study, based on secondary data analysis and 33 interviews with businesses and local stakeholders, finds that employee preferences are likely to drive the shift to enduring hybrid working in the months following Government’s removal of the working from home guidance.

Our research found that remote working enhanced workers’ sense of flexibility and autonomy, which led to enhanced trust between employers and staff. At the same time, this mode of working blurred boundaries between work and home life, which was reported to negatively impact mental wellbeing. Going forward, interviewees note that some form of face-to-face interaction will likely be important to sustain organisational culture, induct new staff, maintain formal and informal connections between staff, and enable managers to better gauge and support worker wellbeing.

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The liking gap – We tend to underestimate the positive first impression we make on strangers

Talking to someone new can be daunting, but such conversations “have the power to turn strangers into friends, coffee dates into marriages, and interviews into jobs,” note the authors of a new paper, published in Psychological Science, which has found that perhaps we shouldn’t feel so anxious about them. Across five studies, the researchers explored what strangers thought about each other after chatting, and they found consistent evidence for what they call a “liking gap” – other people like us more than we think. Though in other areas of life many of us have a rosy-tinted view of our abilities, it seems that we tend to under-estimate how we come across socially.

For the first study, Erica Boothby at Cornell University, US, and her fellow researchers simply paired up 34 students for a guided conversation (with ice-breaker questions provided) for five minutes, and got them to complete some personality scales and ratings of the conversation, including what they thought of their partner and how they imagined their partner would rate them. The researchers found that the participants significantly under-estimated how much their partner liked them. And the analysis of the personality data revealed one key driver: the shyer the person, the bigger the liking gap (only for those who ranked low for shyness did the gap disappear entirely).

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

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Spotlight – The Social Worker’s Practice Manual

The ideal practice guide for every social worker and social work student. Based on Neil Thompson’s extensive experience of bringing theory to life in a practice context, this invaluable manual is an essential guide for all practitioners, from student on placement through newly qualified worker to old hand.

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The Avenue Learning Centre Learning resources from Neil Thompson and colleagues

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Be prepared for meetings

I have run very many training courses where I have asked the group: ‘How many of you prepare for meetings so that you are better equipped to get the best results from the time you are putting in?’. It is very rare for the majority of responses to be in the affirmative and quite often it is as little as 10% or so of the group. And yet, if you think about it, many people spend a great deal of time in meetings, much of which can be wasted, unproductive (if not counterproductive) time if it is not focused enough. It can therefore be helpful to do some pre-meeting preparation by asking yourself: (i) What do I want out of this meeting?; and (ii) What do I want or need to put into it? It may then be that, in some circumstances, you will decide that there is little point in attending. However, where you do attend you should be in a stronger position to gain some benefit from your attendance if you are clear about what you want to contribute and what you want to take from the meeting.

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

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Five key wellbeing themes for 2021

The CIPD and Simplyhealth’s Health and Wellbeing at Work report has been sharing trends and insights into workplace wellbeing for more than two decades. Our latest report, surveying more than 650 UK organisations, examines key wellbeing themes – crucially, this year, through the lens of the pandemic.

For over a year now, employers have been dealing with the huge challenges presented by Covid-19. While employee wellbeing was already steadily rising up the corporate agenda, the last 12 months have really thrust it centre stage. With this in mind, we explore five of the most topical themes from this year’s findings:

1. More than two-fifths of businesses are ‘extremely concerned’ about the impact of the pandemic on employees’ mental health

2. Financial wellbeing receives the least attention from organisations

3. Unhealthy practices such as presenteeism and leavism are on the rise

4. Almost three in five employees cite workload as a cause of stress

5. Proactive updates to benefit offerings are maximising employee support

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

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Social care: A guide to attracting and retaining a thriving workforce

With an estimated workforce of 1.52 million, the adult social care sector plays a significant role in the UK labour market. Over the years ahead it will need to rapidly expand further to meet growing demand. But the sector faces long-standing challenges which have been made more acute by the pandemic and recent changes to immigration policy. From attracting individuals with the right qualities to retaining skilled staff and developing routes to progression, care providers are struggling to build and sustain their workforce.

The guide aims to support care providers navigating these challenges, highlighting key insights from our research and offering recommendations for employers and government to create long-term solutions for a thriving workforce. Our research found that perceptions of care work seem to be improving, with more than half (53%) of jobseekers from outside the sector reporting they hold a more positive view of social care since the onset of the pandemic, and nearly a third of those surveyed considering a future career in care

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A fresh look at social work theory and methods

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What is mindfulness?

It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.

Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life. Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

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

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Tune in to grief

The idea that ‘grief is the price we pay for love’ is a longstanding one. When we love (a person, a thing, a job or whatever) we may make an emotional commitment or investment (‘cathexis’, to use the technical term). When we lose who or what we have invested in we feel the emptiness of the emotional void that has been created by that loss. This can affect us at different levels (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually) and can have a hugely powerful impact on our lives. Some people make the mistake of assuming that grief applies only to death, but, of course, it can arise as a result of any significant loss. If we make the mistake of not taking account of grief in people’s lives, we can be basing our actions and interactions on a very partial and distorted picture of the situation.

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Good leaders choose to listen, then act

We’ve learned through the pandemic that listening to employees is even more important during a time of great stress than during normal times. If you think you have a great workplace, or aspire to be a great workplace, then assessing how you are doing during a challenge is going to be more insightful than when things are fine. So when is the best time to solicit employee feedback? Company leaders should ask themselves – and their leadership team – two questions:

Do you care what your employees think?

Does it matter what your employees think?

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

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LGBT-inclusive RSHE: Putting it into practice guide

All children and young people deserve an education that supports them to thrive. Quality relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) is an important part not only of keeping children and young people safe, but of helping them to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. At Stonewall, we’ve worked with hundreds of schools and colleges to help create a world where all children and young people are free to be themselves. Our team of experts have created some free guidance to help schools feel confident planning and delivering LGBT-inclusive RSHE. To read the guidance in full, download our guide, ‘Putting it into Practice’. We are grateful to Sex Education Forum for their help in developing the content.

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

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Anxiety: How you can help your child – with five simple coping techniques

Over the course of the pandemic, many children have been feeling worried and anxious. Mental health services have seen a significant increase in anxiety, depression and the use of unhelpful coping strategies – for instance, using food, self-harm, tantrums and avoidance of worrying situations – to manage tricky feelings. We spoke to clinical psychologist Doctor Anna Colton. She explains the causes of anxiety and offers some techniques to stop anxious thoughts, as well as tips on how to help your child manage their anxiety.

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Neil Thompson’s Lessons for Living – Save face

To lose face means to become embarrassed or to feel that your standing has been diminished. Unfortunately, if we are not sensitive enough in our interactions with other people, we can easily unintentionally make them lose face – for example, by implying a criticism of them. In some cases this can lead you an aggressive reaction. This is because, if people are faced with a choice between losing face and reacting strongly, many will choose the latter. Indeed, feeling diminished or humiliated is a common cause of aggressive or even violent reactions. We therefore need to make sure that we are skilful enough to avoid contributing to situations where people lose face. Saving face means, on the one hand, not embarrassing ourselves, but also making sure we don’t unwittingly embarrass anyone else. This is partly basic good manners, but it is also about being able to tune in to the situation we find ourselves in and being alert to any potential sources of losing face. For example, in circumstances where someone is, or has been, upset or angry, they are more likely to regard an ill-chosen comment as a slight. This does not mean that we should be ‘walking on eggshells’, but it does mean that we may create problems if we just press on without considering the dangers of causing someone to lose face.

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