Do you know of any good examples of community social work?

If you know of a good example of community social work, we'd  love to hear from you – or colleagues you know! Please complete the survey questions by Friday 6th October 2017 to send in ideas.


We want to celebrate community social work in Scotland, showcasing what it is and can offer in 2017 and beyond. 

We aim to do this through creating a digital suite of engaging multi-media case studies or stories, grounded in real life context and experience. 

 What we hope to achieve

·      Celebration of the achievements of community social work

·       Sharing good practice and learning

·       Greater understanding of what community social work is and has to offer

·     Help influence future policy and practice around what this means specifically for the social work profession?

In a second phase we plan to discus what this means for the social work profession (and in relation to others) within the current landscape? What learning and opportunities exist? What does it mean for current and future social work roles and partnership with others? 

Background rationale

The publication of Audit Scotland’s report into the state of Social Work in Scotland (2016) identified huge budgetary and capacity issues. It challenges services to work more closely with each other and people who use social work services to: make best use of resources and expertise locally; build communities capacity.
A Watershed for Social Work in Scotland? event report, identified risks of continuing with current approaches. It  concluded there has to be: greater investment in prevention; improved community resilience; greater co-design and meaningful involvement of people who access services and unpaid carers in the design and commissioning of services;  local leadership (from elected members) and a national conversation on social work priorities.

Much of this sounds like community social work or community development? 

However, definitions of ‘community social work’ or 'community development’ are contested – and for the social work professional, tensions exist in policy and practice (with focus more often diverted to crisis and to individual case-management.) The 3rd strand of the Review of Social Work Education  is also asking what it means for them?

Issues of definition and complexity

Community social work - or similar terms such as ‘community work’, community development work’, ‘community practice’ or ‘community engagement’ - are all in use. 

'Community social work' – if we stick with this – is not something only ‘qualified social workers do’ - as one might be tempted to think. 

Different professionals or workers ‘do it’. They come from various professional and educational backgrounds (including social work and community education) founded in traditions of social justice and participatory approaches with ambitions to support both individuals in their community – and whole communities to take a greater lead.

So is, ‘community social work’  an approach then rather than defined by the professionals that do it?

‘Communities’ are often best self-defined. They may be communities of place or interest, and communities can be overlapping and permeable. ‘Community’ may also be something that is lacking /needs built, and communities aren't static and change over time.<

* 1. Provide a brief description of your case study or story (You might want to tell us things like, who’s involved from your community; more about the context eg. where the story takes place and when it starts; aims and ambitions of the work?)

* 2. How  does this story add value - in terms of making a difference to peoples' lives; in terms of reducing costs; in terms of learning?

* 3. Why is this a good example of community social work?

* 4. Why will this be of interest to others, including the social work profession?

* 5. Please provide details as the key contact

* 6. If you have any questions yourself,  please include these here.

Please note the timescales for this work, with  'field visits' for chosen case studies to take place  Oct 2017-  Jan 2018. 

Iriss will cover travel expenses or hospitality costs associated with the involvement of service-users/carers/community members in the telling of any of these case studies/ stories.