Positive Stories

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    I can’t not take the opportunity to ask. I have been doing some work about storytelling and social work. It came from the idea that social workers almost always end up being portrayed in a negative way. We have been working on supporting practitioners to develop their own positive stories and I’d really welcome anyone that has their own positive story. The aim is to try and capture an oral representation.

    I have heard so many people speak positively about change today and the passion is so obvious so I ask how do almost always end up in a negative position

    Thanks in advance


    This is a great project Simon! I am moderating this live mic session at present, which is why I am taking time to think of some responses to comments. The live mic space doesn’t seem to be buzzing, so I wonder if you might get some more responses if you put out your call in some of the live social work focused sessions on the programme today and tomorrow, asking people to add to the chat in the Open Mic space? The Social Work Ethics Research Group has been collecting stories of ethical challenges – these are often about negative or difficult situations, but frequently social workers have handled them with courage and wisdom. Of course, there are a lot of these from social workers during the pandemic – who took initiatives, who did very careful ethical thinking etc. Happy to connect with you. s.j.banks@durham.ac.uk

    David N Jones

    Sorry that there have not been more responses to this invitation. As Sarah suggests, perhaps there is more debate around the formal presentations. I think that there is something in the culture of social work which pulls us away from telling positive stories – because we know these are not OUR stories to tell. when things go well, it is because people have seized their own destiny – whatever the challenges they face – and find personal resources to transform their futures. Social workers facilitate and enable but don’t CREATE the change. In a way that is different from many other professions and skills where there is a specific thing which can be identified as the contribution of the ‘professional’ or ‘practitioner’. But facilitating and enabling are such needed and positive qualities and skills that somehow we should find ways to describe them and feel proud when we can demonstrate them in our practice. I have shared around this observation around the world in many places and it seems to resonate with social workers. I would be interested in reflections of others on these ideas.

    In essence, social workers cannot expect to be valued and supported if we do not find a language to describe the importance of what we do!


    Hi Simon
    Whereabouts are you in the world?
    Can you give an example or two of the stories you have collected? I am wondering if, after the summit, there could be a possibility for IFSW to put a call out for positive stories.
    For myself, I have just completed my qualification (the latest iteration!) to be a practice educator for social work students and social workers studying post graduate programme 🙂

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