The darker side of volunteering

Volunteering is a good thing, yes? Perhaps for the organization being helped, but for the volunteers it’s not so simple. In this blog post, Adam Talbot from the University of Brighton, UK shares his latest work on burnout and stress amongst volunteers. This blog post is based on a article which recently appeared in Voluntary Sector Review.

Volunteering is often seen as a panacea for the various problems faced by society. Volunteers are thought to simultaneously contribute to the greater good of a society and gain personal benefits, including social capital and practical experience.

However, this perspective ignores various issues with volunteering, including the treatment of volunteers as free labour and the stresses placed on volunteers. In this blog post, I provide an overview of this darker side of volunteering, drawing on research conducted with a Scout group in northern England.

“many volunteers find themselves stressed and burnt out”

Leaders in the Scout association give their time freely, motivated by various factors, including enjoying scouting, giving something back (both to the local community and to a system volunteers have been part of as youths) and ensuring the “service” is available for their children. However, despite these laudable motivations, many volunteers find themselves stressed and burnt out by the demands placed on their time.

Once they are involved with the organisation, they know how much needs to be done and therefore end up putting in more work than is necessarily healthy in the long-term. They become entwined in a system that drains their free time, a problem exasperated by a neoliberal political system which leaves individuals scant leisure time in which to volunteer and treats volunteers as free labour, in this case as free childcare at evenings and occasional weekends.

Personal experiences

For some, such as Dean, a Group Scout Leader, this can be managed as his role involves the organisation of large events, requiring significant investment of time and energy, but also allowing him to take time away from Scouting when needed. For example, after a recent camp which he organised, he commented that he wouldn’t be doing anything to do with scouting for at least a couple of weeks.

For others though, such as Phil, an Assistant Scout Leader, the role they are in does not allow these periods to de-stress. He is required to run meetings every week (as well as occasional weekend camps), which is not only an inflexible time commitment but can also be a monotonous routine. This leads volunteers like Phil to feel burnt out, devoid of the energy, ideas and enthusiasm which characterises Scout leaders at their best. Hence, Phil is considering leaving the organisation, commenting that he feels “the system’s crap” due to the lack of support he has received.

This is symptomatic of a system straining under a lack of available volunteers, as more immediate concerns with other sections (e.g. Cub Scouts) whose leaders either had already left or were leaving without any replacement. Phil feels under these circumstances that despite the stress Scouts causes him, he is unable to leave as that would put much more pressure on others: “I feel like, not pressured, but I feel like I’ve got to do it”.

“the role they are in does not allow periods to de-stress”

During the research, a small number of interviews were conducted with volunteers. At almost all of these interviews, participants commented that while we all share these stressful experiences, we never really discuss them with each other.

While there is more to do to solve the problem, including challenging neoliberal policies which have a detrimental impact on volunteering, more collaborative reflection on practice would assist volunteers in managing their own time to avoid burnout. It is important to note though, in conclusion, that while darker elements of volunteering exist and certainly deserve greater attention from volunteers, policymakers and academics, volunteering in scouting was and is incredibly enjoyable and meaningful for participants (including myself), and the focus on negatives in this post does not fully reflect the experience of volunteering.

Read Adam’s VSR article in full here.

VSR 2015 [FC]For more information about the Voluntary Sector Review as well as link to free institutional trials please click here

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Sayer’s ‘Why we can’t afford the rich’ wins Townsend 2015 Prize

The British Academy’s Peter Townsend prize celebrates Townsend’s immense contribution to the social sciences by providing an award that recognises excellence in social policy and sociology. This year we are thrilled to announce that our author Andrew Sayer has won the prize for his book Why we can’t afford the rich. In today’s post Policy Press director Alison Shaw celebrates Andrew’s achievement.

Policy Press - 018 resizeI am delighted that Andrew Sayer has won the Peter Townsend Prize. This is extremely well deserved on Andrew’s part. 

Sayer0002The prize is awarded biennially for outstanding work with policy relevance on a topic to which Townsend made a major contribution.

It was established in commemoration of Peter Townsend, one of the most distinguished global figures in contemporary social policy and sociology. As an international researcher and public intellectual, he made an immeasurable contribution to analysis and policy-making in the areas of poverty and inequality, health inequalities, disability and older people. He was a Fellow of the British Academy.

Challenging times

We are living in challenging times and there has been a strong response from the academic community to the increasing inequality in society and the rise in associated social problems. As a result, this year there were a high number of quality prize submissions and Andrew can be justifiably proud of winning this award against stiff competition.

“The book bursts the myth of the rich as especially talented wealth creators”

Why we can’t afford the rich turns economic orthodoxy on its head and demonstrates how over the last 30 years the rich, and in particular the super-rich, worldwide have increased their ability to hide their wealth, create indebtedness and expand their political influence.

The book bursts the myth of the rich as especially talented wealth creators and shows how the unsustainable growth that is propagated by the rich is creating an additional risk to the planet.

BadgeAndrew has taken a significant body of detailed statistical data and research, economic theory and political philosophy, and translated it into a highly readable and engaging book that provides new ways of thinking and approaches to policy.

Policy Press strives to publish high quality work that makes a contribution not only to academia but beyond to wider society and Why we can’t afford the rich does this perfectly. It is described by readers on Amazon as ‘a cracking read’, ‘absolutely gobsmacking’ and ‘up there with the best I have ever read.”

“…..’the most persuasive, articulate and stimulating political treatise I have read in many a day’….”

It is not just for those on one side of the political spectrum, another reader said “This is the most persuasive, articulate and stimulating political treatise I have read in many a day. I disagree with most of it but, my goodness, Andrew Sayer has a passion for his subject.” Quite something for a seriously well-researched and theorized academic contribution. This is just the kind of far reaching work that Peter Townsend would have engaged with and that the Townsend prize celebrates.
I am delighted for  Andrew Sayer and offer congratulations to him from the whole of the Policy Press team on his achievement.

Why we can't afford the rich [FC]Why we can’t afford the rich is available for purchase from our website here (RRP £19.99) and will be out soon in paperback. Don’t forget Policy Press newsletter subscribers get a 35% discount when ordering through our website. If you’re not a subscriber yet why not sign up here today and join our Policy Press community

Enjoyed this? Then we think you might also enjoy one of our most popular blog posts FACT: We can’t afford the rich in which Andrew provides some insights into what motivated him to write the book and why he believes we really can’t afford the rich…

Democracy, Inequality & Power: Policy & Politics conference 2015

Policy Press Journals Executive Kim Eggleton gives us a whistle stop tour of the key themes and speakers from the 2015 Policy and Politics Conference. Whether you’re looking to find out more about the event or just be reminded of all that was covered over it and to have a flick through some of the photographs taken then you’ve come to the right place…

Danny Dorling addresses the delegates at the Policy & Politics conference

Danny Dorling addresses the delegates at the Policy & Politics conference

Last month saw the annual Policy & Politics conference take place in the centre of Bristol. Over 154 people attended to listen to 140 papers on varying themes relating to Democracy, Inequality & Power. 

This conference always offers an exciting line up of keynote speakers, and this year was no exception, with Mark Purcell, Danny Dorling, Kate Pickett and Andrew Gamble all delivering excellent plenaries to the attendees. Summaries of all the plenaries are available on the Policy & Politics blog, as well as short video from Danny Dorling.

The conference also had some fascinating themed panels on subjects such as education as public policy, neoliberalism in post-crisis societies,  the regulation of sex work and pornography, and communities and dissent.  28 countries were represented at the conference and a good deal of discussion and debate was enjoyed by all, some of which you see on Twitter using the #ppconf2015 hashtag. Some pictures of the conference are below, you can see the full collection on Flickr.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Policy & Politics 2015 [FC]For more information about the Policy and Politics journal as well as link to free institutional trials please click here. And why not head on over to the Policy and Politics Blog which is full to the brim with great content from the journal, it’s contributors and editors.

How have attitudes changed in the last five years towards asylum and migration?

Five years ago, based upon more than two decades of research with people seeking asylum, Maggie O’Neill wrote Asylum Migration and Community. In today’s blog post O’Neill reviews, in light of the reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, how little has changed in terms of attitudes and approaches towards asylum despite the evidence of what can be achieved through the use of participatory action research, visual research/the image and creativity.

MONeill2“What is the legal way to immigrate? Why don’t they give me this option? I am illegal because there is no legal route.” (Matthias Kispert , 2015, ‘No More Beyond‘)

Jeremy Corbyn’s acceptance speech as leader of the Labour party on Saturday 12th September connected for me, with much research and scholarly work on the current asylum-migration crisis. With shades of Zygmun Bauman’s (2004) use of ‘negative’ or ‘uneven’ globalization, Corbyn stated that going to war creates problems for humanity and we not only need peace but we need to recognise we cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global inequality; that the richer governments must step up to the plate; and that people should not end up in refugee camps instead of contributing to the good of all.

Corbyn’s approach and commitment to welcoming refugees to the UK and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s in Germany, is a loud and clear message mirrored in the vigils and demonstrations across western Europe calling for refugees to be allowed in and for open borders.

Yet at one and the same time Hungary has erected a 4m high fence along its border with Serbia, the Hungarian police are described as treating migrants like animals (the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has drawn parallels between Hungary’s treatment of refugees and Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews) and the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are so far refusing to take any of the migrants; and counter vigils and protests are also taking place across Europe.

Beyond borders?
The movement of people across borders is a key defining feature of the twentieth and twenty first century (as it has been, to a lesser degree ,throughout recorded history). It is now five years since I published Asylum Migration and Community (Policy press) and yet the book could have been published yesterday, so little has changed.

Based upon more than two decades of research with people seeking asylum  funded by the AHRB and AHRC I argued that migration in the context of ‘negative’ or ‘uneven’  globalisation is on the increase;  that increasingly restrictive asylum policy measures  impact  upon the humiliation and  social marginalisation of  people seeking asylum,  refuge and the hope for a better life;  and that  that there is an urgent  need to challenge and  transform social inequalities in relation to the asylum-migration-community nexus.

I argued that there was a withdrawal of humanising practices, a lack of welcome to people seeking asylum, and a heightening of the adversarial approach to those who seek to make their lives in the UK and the North. At the same time there is a significant lack of accountability and responsibility by governments and states for their part in the production of the worlds refugees.

I also stated, and still believe, that we need to face up to our global responsibilities towards the displaced, address the causes of ‘the misery of growing refugee movements’ and foster dignity and egalization in the institutions, laws, policies and practices towards people seeking safety in the asylum-migration-community nexus. International agreements on settlement are vital. Further, that creative, cultural and participatory research can support this process, as part of a public sociology or criminology, that can helps build communities of practice to challenge and change such gross inequalities and open and keep open spaces for critical thinking, help mobilise resistance, recognition and respect for people migrating – moving beyond war, violence, poverty and environmental disasters.

Arts based research
For Walter Benjamin (and also John Berger ), the imaginary is central to utopian political thinking, and in order to counter the petrification of the imagination Benjamin stresses the need to revolutionize our image worlds. Thus, arts-based research that prioritises thinking in images can bring into being a politics of representation informed by a politics of subalternity that offers ways of seeing and understanding that may feed into public policy and ultimately help to shift the dominant knowledge/power axis embedded in current governance around ‘immigrants’, migration and in the case of the research documented here the asylum-migration and community nexus, in this case, for women migrants in Barcelona, women seeking asylum in the UK and artists documenting displacement and migration.

Moreover, the benefits of working in participatory ways using arts based research with people seeking asylum to represent lived experiences, claim a voice, raise awareness of relations of humiliation, exclusion as well as inclusion and challenge exclusionary processes and practices, can support the articulation of identity and belonging for those situated in the asylum-migration nexus. This is vitally important to the development of dialogue, a recognitive theory of community, cultural citizenship and social justice, particularly when the voices of migrants are mediated by others, notably the mainstream press and media; as can be seen in ‘Women, wellbeing and community‘ participatory research conducted with women seeking asylum in collaboration with a regional refugee organisation and film maker Janice Haaken.

Global Governance: what next?
In a world of constant movement, of glocalisation, global mobility, migration and what Castles (2003) calls the asylum-migration nexus an enormous amount of energy, time and money is spent on securing the borders of Northern states, of erecting stronger and stronger barriers to entry. This is the current case in Hungary and in Melilla (a Spanish city located on the north coast of Africa, sharing a border with Morocco) where 11.5km of heavily patrolled triple wire fence prevents migrants trying to enter; the current closing of the borders in Austria, Germany and Hungary on the 14th September 2015 as a result of ‘gridlock’; alongside increasingly restrictive asylum policies preventing entry and speeding up removals.

In an open letter to world leaders, Parvati Nair (2015) writes that Greece and Italy are on the frontline in responding to the mass movement and arrival of people and the photograph of three year old Alan Kurdi’s body washed ashore, has mobilised international responses to the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean. For Nair “this signals two inter-related tragedies: firstly, that of the human loss and suffering that is ongoing in this context, and secondly, that of the dire shortcomings of global and regional good governance of migration”.

Similarly, David Held (2015) recently argued that “only when people live securely in a world where sustainable development is promoted in all regions, where severe inequalities between countries are tempered and reduced, and where a universal constitutional order guarantees the rights of all peoples…can cosmopolitan ideals be realised”.

I believe we need to revolutionize our image worlds to think and do creative governance in relation to migration and develop a radical democratic imaginary around borders, migration and belonging .

In taking this project forward I will be working with photographer John Perivolaris, Counterpoint Arts and other collaborators to extend Asylum Migration and Community both theoretically, methodologically and practically in Methods on the move: borders, risk and belonging funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship that brings together walking methods with biographical methods to interrogate the concept of borders, risk and belonging in collaboration with artists and film makers. This will, I hope, in some small way feed into and envision ‘more inclusive, more just, more democratic politics’ and we must work together to create change.


Information on  Counterpoints Arts can be found here

No More Beyond‘ is a video essay that was part of Counterpoints Arts Dis/Placed exhibition, June 2015.  Filmed in the city of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco, where 11.5 km of heavily patrolled triple wire fence separate EU territory from migrants trying to enter. The project takes its title from the city’s motto: Non Plus Ultra’. – See more here 
Zygmunt Bauman (2004) Wasted lives: modernity and its outcasts Cambridge, Polity Press.
Stephen Castle (2003), ‘Towards a sociology of Forced Migration and Social Transformation’ in Sociology Vol. 37, No 1, (edited by O’Neill and Spybey) February 2003 London: Sage.
David Held (2015) The Migration Crisis In The EU: Between 9/11 And Climate Change
Parvati Nair (2015) The Mediterranean Crisis: An Open Letter to World Leaders
Maggie O’Neill (2010) Asylum, Migration and Community Bristol: Policy Press

John Perivolaris work including Migrados can be found here
John Perivolaris and Maggie O’Neill (2014) (2014). ‘A Sense of Belonging: Walking with Thaer through migration, memories and space’. Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture 5(2-3): 327-33

Asylum, Migration and Community is available for purchase from our website here (RRP £25.99). Don’t forget Policy Press newsletter subscribers get a 35% discount when ordering through our website. If you’re not a subscriber yet why not sign up here today and join our Policy Press community

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

What is life like when you first get to the UK as an asylum seeker?

Whilst Syrian refugees continue to flee from their country in search of sanctuary and a better life, there’s still little sign of consensus in Europe in terms of a unified policy of aid and support, although the debate has at least become more compassionate in recent weeks.

Continuing to focus on the personal, today’s interview is an excerpt from a piece first published in full in Critical and Radical Social Work in which campaigner Amal Azzudin talks about her experience of coming to the UK and the ongoing fight against racism.

Original interview by Laura Penketh, Liverpool Hope University, UK.

The policy of detaining children for immigration purposes ended in 2010. The ‘Glasgow Girls’ campaign played an important part in the decision to change the law, and also contributed to the implementation of a more child-friendly asylum process. These were a group of smart and feisty teenage girls and school friends, who took on the might of the system when, in 2005, their friend Agnesa Murselaj, aged 15, and a pupil with them at Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, was dawn-raided and detained with her family.

AmalAzzudin_University of Glasgow

Amal Azzudin Photo: University of Glasgow

What follows is an interview with one of the ‘Glasgow Girls’ – Amal Azzudin – who campaigned alongside her friends, Roza Salih, Ewelina Siwak, Toni-Lee Hendeson, Jennifer McCann and Emma Clifford, to fight for the release of their friend Agnesa.

Can you tell me a little about when you arrived in Glasgow, where you came from, and your first impressions of the city?

I came to Britain from Somalia and we left the country due to the civil war that is still ongoing. There are tribes who fight amongst each other, which caused, and still causes, much unrest and danger to civilians. My mum and I left because it was getting too dangerous for us. My mum, my baby sister and I initially lived in London for 18 months but we were living in crowded accommodation and then found out we were going to be dispersed.

We thought that meant to somewhere in the local area but we were dispersed to Glasgow. We were on a really big coach with loads of other families and they were all gradually dropped off. I asked the coach driver if we were going to be the last ones being dropped off and he told us yes, because we were going to Scotland. We had never heard of Scotland or Glasgow. When we found out, one of the women on the coach said she felt sorry for us going to Glasgow as “everyone is racist and it snows all the time”. But they were so wrong and it is my home now as I have lived here most of my life.

What were your early experiences of life in Glasgow around issues of ‘race’ and racism?

At the beginning there was a lot of racism and the biggest mistake the council made was not to prepare local people for asylum seekers. The community was not prepared for our arrival and there was a lot of ignorance around. One of my friends from Algeria got stabbed and nearly died trying to stop a fight. There was a large police presence outside the school at the time and it was very scary. I got my headscarf pulled off by boys and stuff like that. It got so frightening that my mum said that we should not leave the house after 6pm.

We stayed in the high rises, which was really bad and it was not safe for us to go out in the evening. I think my mum experienced more problems as I had Drumchapel High School and my teacher Mr Girvan, which made it much easier for me. My mum had little support and she found it difficult finding her way around the area. Her English was not good initially but she went to college and took some courses and then we got granted leave to remain. Now she is a community worker and is very well known and she works with asylum-seeking women around female genital mutilation. She is part of society now and is very busy work-wise.

Can you tell me how the ‘Glasgow Girls’ campaign began?

In 2005, one of my friends from Kosova, Agnesa, was arrested and detained and our campaign started when we fought to get her back. I was the first to go to our teacher, Mr Girvan, when we found out she had been taken away. I said I was not going to attend classes because I did not understand why she had been removed and was being treated like a criminal. She had done nothing wrong and had been living in Glasgow for five years.

Obviously they couldn’t force me to go to classes and the other girls joined me because we were all very upset and distressed. Roza and Ewelina were in the same situation as Agnesa and did not have leave to remain so they were very scared they might be next. For me it was horrible knowing I had the right to remain, and it was also a worrying time for my mum. She did not want me to threaten our situation and wanted me to keep out of it. But Agnesa was just a child like me and I had to do something – my conscience would not let me leave it. I did not know if I was going to achieve anything but I knew I had to try.

How did the campaign progress and what strategies did you adopt?

Mr Girvan asked us what we wanted to do, so Emma came up with the idea of a petition. We went round the whole school and got people to sign a petition to get Agnesa back and I think that was the first step in combating racism in the school too. Other pupils were like “well, we don’t like you and we don’t know why you are here but Agnesa is one of us now”. This gave us the chance to talk and explain why we were in Glasgow and once people heard our stories it made a huge difference.

Obviously we knew we couldn’t change everyone’s mind and there were some pupils who did not want to understand, no matter what, but we did start to change things. It was really important that the school supported us. The head teacher and most of the other teachers were great. Anyway, almost everyone at school signed our petition and we took it to our local Member of the Scottish Parliament and he invited us to Parliament to sit in on debates. We were also invited to meet the First Minister at that time and it just took off from there. We were on news programmes regularly and Agnesa was released three weeks later.

What was the significance of your actions in terms of changes to attitudes?

I always say that the biggest thing we achieved to this day is raising awareness. I think what was really successful about the campaign was that we were a group of seven girls who were not politicians. We had no agenda and we were children. That was very powerful.

There is a common stereotype that young people cannot be involved in politics and stick up for their rights and we broke those myths. People saw how passionate and determined we were. I was increasingly recognised and was always being photographed, and I did not fit the common stereotype of a Muslim woman because I was opinionated and outspoken. I felt I needed to take advantage of my growing status to influence change. In Somalia I would have been oppressed and silenced very quickly if I spoke out and I could even have been killed. It was as extreme as that. Looking back, we have come a long way. Of course, there is still a lot of racism out there, but I think there is also more understanding too.

Are conditions today any better for asylum seekers seeking leave to remain?

Well, families cannot be placed in detention centres now in Scotland. This is not supposed to happen across the UK but I know that in England this is not the case. There are not as many dawn raids now either, but what happens is when people go to sign on at the Home Office they just keep them and deport them.

One woman I know has been seeking asylum for 20 years. She came here when she was 13 and she is now 33. She cannot go to university despite being really clever and although she has so much to contribute to society and the economy, she can’t. She has to sign on each month and she is absolutely terrified the night before. Sometimes I go with her and wait outside and she can be in there for an hour or more. We are the only country in Europe that has indefinite detention.

What are your thoughts on rising levels of Islamophobia in society?

It is an extremely tough time for Muslims in the West at the moment due to the rise in Islamophobia. I have heard and read so many stories about how Muslim men and women have been verbally abused and physically attacked. The horrific acts committed by a few people who ‘claim’ to be Muslims are being used to ‘tar everyone with the same brush’.

According to the 2011 Census, Islam has been practised in the UK for 300 years yet somehow it is now that we see the rise of anti-Islamic views and attacks on Muslims. Islamophobia is being used by certain groups such as the far right to divide communities and incite hatred. The media has a huge role to play in promoting the rise of anti-Muslim hatred. The continuous double standards of some sections of the media only feed into the rise of segregating Muslim communities from the rest of society.

There is an issue regarding some people’s lack of understanding regarding what Islamophobia is and that it a worry because if people do not recognise it then how can we challenge it? Muslim women may be an easy target for Islamophobic attacks, especially if they are wearing the headscarf and are visibly recognised as a Muslim. There was an old man who was murdered when he was going home from his local mosque and a pregnant woman was attacked because she was wearing a headscarf. These sorts of attacks spread fear among communities and should not happen to anyone, regardless of race, religion and gender and so on.

What are your hopes and expectations for the future?

Well, my name Amal means ‘hope’ in Arabic so I am always hopeful and I try to stay positive. We are facing very difficult times and the issues that we have to confront are huge. I think future debates are going to be interesting. I am so proud of the city of Glasgow and how people stand up against injustice, which is not the case everywhere. Despite many challenges, when I look at the UK as a whole and compare it with France, I think we are in a much better position. For example, we have not banned the hijab here and I hope we never do.

I think we have to educate and communicate with people from all backgrounds and break down barriers. Schools could be very important in educating young people and raising awareness, and I think leadership in schools is crucial. There could be input from primary school onwards. We have been invited into schools to talk about our campaign, which has been very successful.

A couple of weeks ago, we spoke to Primary Seven pupils in a local school who wanted to start their own campaign for the right for every child to have an education. There was an assembly, which we were invited to attend along with parents, and the children had made placards and put together a petition, which they were getting people to sign. The local newspaper did a big piece about it and their teacher said they were going to come to the city centre to hold a mini-demonstration. In school they had pictures of Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai on the walls and one of the pupils went home and wrote about me. It was overwhelming. Imagine if all schools promoted active citizenship in this way!

CRSW 203 [FC]

Interview reproduced courtesty of Critical and Radical Social Work. For more information about the journal and to find out how to subscribe please click here.

To read the interview ‘Asylum, immigration and anti-racism – an interview with Amal Azzudin’ in full please click here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Social work can lead itself for far less than College funding

Originally published on on 30 July 2015.

Bill Mckitterick

Bill Mckitterick

Government contracts and allocating responsibilities to employers are in danger of infantilising the profession, says Bill McKitterick, author of Self-leadership in social work. It’s time for self-leadership.

The “reform” of social work over the last six years shows an unprecedented level of interest and financial investment by the government in social work and social workers.

We have seen the deliberations of the Social Work Taskforce in 2009, the Munro Review of Child Protection in 2011, the Social Work Reform Board in 2012 and the two reviews of social work education in 2014, by Narey and by Croisdale-Appleby.

A glance at a thesaurus offers some revealing alternative words for “reform”: improve, mend, reconstruct, rehabilitate, renovate, repair, get back on the straight and narrow, get one’s act together, pull one’s socks up, turn over a new leaf…

Have we really been in need of so much improvement?

I have been unable to identify another period when there has been such a concentrated focus and money allocated to social work – yet we have so little to show for it!

Continue reading ‘Social work can lead itself for far less than College funding’

Has the #Labourleadership contest changed British politics?

By tomorrow all the votes will have been counted and we will know who is the next leader of the Labour party.
Over the summer, traditionally the ‘silly season’ in news coverage, we have been inundated with stories about the Labour leadership contest, especially around the surprising emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as the frontrunner.
With the final votes having been cast on Thursday and an announcement due tomorrow, some of our key authors share their thoughts and views on the contest and the potential outcome…

Patrick Diamond

Patrick Diamond

Although there have been many critics of the Labour Party leadership selection process, it has resulted in one of the first genuine mass participation contests in the history of British party politics. We wait to see whether it will herald a wider revival of mass parties.Patrick Diamond, academic and author of forthcoming publication The Crosland Legacy



John Roberts

“Let’s face it, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham are all still constrained by Blairism, although, admittedly, Burnham sometimes shows signs of trying to move beyond Blairism. So, Corbyn, perhaps ironically, is the candidate who is the most modern of all the Labour candidates in trying to map a new ideology and set of policies for the Labour Party, which escapes the straitjacket of Thatcherism.” John Roberts, academic and author of New media and public activism: Neoliberalism, the state and radical protest in the public sphere


Lisa Mckenzie, author of 'Getting by'

Lisa Mckenzie

Jeremy Corbyn is a parliamentarian, he is a Labour man, he believes in Westminster politics, he is very far from a threat to parliamentary democracy he is as we might have said back in the day ‘a company man’.  The media, the Labour Party and everyone else appear to have got their knickers in a right old twist about a man who won’t have very much power, and essentially doesn’t want to change very much. Imagine if they got me.” Lisa Mckenzie, academic and author of Getting by: Estates, class and culture in austerity Britain


Simon Parker

Simon Parker

Corbyn will likely be a disaster, but his victory ought to shake the Labour party out of its complacency and force them to create a new progressive politics that is less paternalistic, more plural and which seeks to share power rather than to hoard it. The best thing that could come from the next few days is a new progressive politics aimed at the mainstream.” Simon Parker, director of  New Local Government Network and author of Taking power back: Putting people in charge of politics


Nathan Manning

Nathan Manning

The notion that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable [as British Prime Minister] highlights just how far we’ve drifted to the right and just how entrenched the neo-liberal orthodoxy has become.” Dr Nathan Manning, academic and author of Political (dis)engagement: The changing nature of the ‘political’


Mary O'Hara

Mary O’Hara

Bearing in mind the onslaught of austerity policies over the past five years – and with billions pounds of more cuts to vital services and benefits to come – what really matters is that a fully functioning Opposition is in place. Without a coherent and consistent challenge to the current government’s policies many thousands of people across the country including disabled people will continue to suffer.Mary O’Hara, journalist and author of Austerity Bites: A journey to the sharp end of the cuts in the UK


#labourleadership #labour #corbyn

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates


Path to the Possible

Democracy toward the Horizon


Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Shot by both sides

The blog of Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP

Paul Collins's Running Blog

Running and London Marathon 2013 Training

Bristol Civic Leadership Project

A collaborative project on change in local governance

Stuck on Social Work

And what a great place to be

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

short and insightful writing about a long and complex history

Urban policy and practice

Publishing with a purpose


Policy & Politics blog with a focus on place


Publishing with a purpose

Public Administration Review

Public Administration Review is a professional journal dedicated to advancing theory and practice in public administration.


European Politics and Policy

Urban Studies Journal

Publishing with a purpose


Official Blog of the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham


The official blog of the Journal of Public Policy

Social Europe

politics, economics and employment & labour


Publishing with a purpose


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,344 other followers

%d bloggers like this: