My Letter to a 12 Year Old

Ever since I read this story (here) about you, a girl that was raped at the age of 12 I have wanted to reach out to you.  Of course, I can’t.  Because one of the few things our legal system gets right is the anonymity of victims of sexual assault.  However, I don’t need to know your name, where you live or what you look like to write this letter.

There are lots of ways I could write to you to let you know that I care. Continue reading

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Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch (2013)

gold finch bookMy first blog in a long time and there is a good reason why it has taken so long – I have been reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and it is huge and I have very little time for reading for pleasure.

I have finished reading the novel at much the same time as the #7daysofaction campaign has been launched.  #7daysofaction is a social media campaign to raise awareness of adults with learning disabilities who are being warehoused in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) across the UK.  When I first started research disability in the 1990s, I was particularly inspired by Jenny Morris book – Pride against Prejudice and when considering the right to family life, I am always reminded of these words:

 “Powerlessness characterises the experience of residential care and the nature of institutionalism affects even those of us who are not in residential care. The possibility of institutionalism hangs over many disabled people living in our own homes, fuelled by the fear that one day the support which makes our independence possible will disappear, or that an increase in functional limitations will prove too much for whatever resources are available to us” (Morris, 1991: 127) Continue reading

Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Care Issue?

This is the link to an article I co-wrote with researchers at MMU about adult social care and domestic abuse, published in the Journal of Social Work Education:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733

Abstract

Within a global profession with a stated definition that includes “promoting social change and development, social cohesion and the empowerment and liberation of people”, it would be expected that the issue of domestic abuse would be integral to the training and role of all social workers.  This article reports on research, which highlighted both a lack of understanding of the role of adult social worker within cases of domestic abuse and also a desire for further training around the issue.  However, this article sets out how the current UK (in particular, English) context of social work marginalises the issue of domestic abuse within practice with adults. This marginalisation has been achieved through the construction of domestic abuse as a children and families issue and limited duties, powers and resources within statutory work to support victims/survivors in their own right, rather than as “failing” parents. However, the article argues that the role of social work education should be wider than teaching to the current policy or procedures and instead encourage a wider appreciation of the social, historical and political context. The article concludes with tentative suggestions for how domestic abuse could be considered within the social work curriculum for adult practitioners.  This is in acknowledgement that social workers can be well positioned for the detection, investigation and support of those experiencing abuse.

Reference

Rachel Robbins, Concetta Banks, Hugh McLaughlin, Claire Bellamy & Debbie Thackray (2016): Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Work Issue?, Social Work Education, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733

To access the full document, you may need to be registered with a university library or contact me for further details.

Carol (2015)

Director: Todd Haynes

** This blog contains spoilers**

carol-movie-posterLast week I was lucky enough to be able to see Carol with a group of friends at my locally refurbished cinema.  It was an opportunity to catch up and be entertained.  After watching the film, I didn’t think that I would write about it. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the film.  It is beautiful and seductive and as someone who is easily distracted by well-cut clothes, I would definitely recommend the film.  However, it was not until I wrote about control in the last blog, that I found something to say about the film beyond the aesthetic. Continue reading

Carmen Bugan – Burying the Typewriter (2012)

This blog comes after three events.

carmen buganFirst, the criminalisation of coercive control under the 2015 Serious Crimes Act.

The second, a short conversation with a much-loved ex-colleague (paraphrased below).

Me: “So, I work for a centre researching inter-personal violence”

Him: “Yes, I know, but isn’t all violence inter-personal?”

Me: “I guess so, but as opposed to state violence”

Him: “Good point”

Third, I finished reading Carmen Bugan’s Burying the Typewriter. Continue reading

He Named me Malala (2015)

malala posterMalala Yousafzai is a remarkable woman, with a spirit and voice that needs to be acknowledged and heard.  What happens to this voice when it is mediated through the lens of a documentary maker?  He Named Me Malala is a fascinating film, through which Malala’s charm and courage shines, but it is not perfect.  It starts with the mythologised context of Malala’s naming.  Her father chose her name which is from the Afghan folk heroine Malalai who rallied Pashtun fighters against the British in 1880.   This provides a context of colonialism and conflict and a narrative of defiance.  There was a powerful scene, narrated by her father (over animation) where on seeing the family tree populated entirely by men, he draws a line and adds her name.  For me, this is what that act symbolised:

“Women’s history has a dual goal: to restore women to history and to restore our history to women.” (Kelly-Gadol, 1987: 15)

Continue reading

Laura McBride – We Are Called To Rise (2014)

In my early days of teaching, working with Access and first year undergraduate social work students, I would try to encourage students to consider why context, politics and policy matters:

Me: (Tongue in cwe are called to riseheek) So, let’s say the government decided to declare war on some random country in the Middle East (highly unlikely, I know) – what impact do you think this would have on social work?

This question was an exercise in an introductory social policy unit, where one of the objectives was to acknowledge the impact war has on social relations. Students would surprise themselves with the list they produced:

  • Soldiers returning with disabilities
  • Soldiers returning with PTSD or other mental illnesses
  • Increased numbers of asylum seekers, including children in need
  • Increased budget on defence, meaning less money spent on health and welfare
  • Increased xenophobia and racism
  • Loss and bereavement within families
  • Potential terrorism
  • Climate of increased fear and distrust
  • Increased government surveillance

Continue reading