The Right to Family Life

Our Right to Family Life project seeks to bring families living in poverty together with academics and social work practitioners through a series of platforms for dialogue that reflect the needs and concerns of families in poverty while exploring innovative new ideas and proposals for change coming from those working in the child protection system. With the voices and thinking of families with experience of social service intervention at the fore, the project is based on three distinct but complimentary actions.

  • A half-day poverty-aware-practice workshop, delivered with the active participation of parents with experience of social service intervention, examines how poverty affects families and social work practice and is aimed at newly-qualified social workers or final year social work students. The workshop interactively explores the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and encourages reflective practice as part of a positive dialogue with practitioners and students.
  • Social work study groups bring together academics, social workers, parents and professionals in the social care and legal fields to discuss and debate key issues faced by social work. In covering topics such as the relationship between poverty and shame, the impact of material deprivation upon social work practice and the politics of recognition and respect, the format serves to broaden perspectives and deepen thinking using ATD Fourth World’s Merging of Knowledge approach.
  • We also engage with the wider social work and legal fields through presentations at conferences, contributing to ongoing research, and having articles based on our work published by respected academic journals.

In 2019 we ran poverty-aware-practice workshops for social workers: as part of the Royal Holloway, University of London, post qualifying training module; for final year students of social work at Birmingham University; and for the team from the Children’s Social Care Safeguarding Service of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Activists spoke at several British Association of Social Workers’ events including the launch of their Anti-Poverty Practice Guide to which we had contributed. One social worker commented:

“It’s been an eye opener about how our position as social workers is viewed by service users. The power we possess can make or break them. What I’ll take with me from today’s session is not to necessarily go by a service user’s past experience to decide whether a child should be removed from home but rather try and see if I can work with that family to meet an achievable goal.”

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