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This hybrid seminar will explore two different approaches to ‘peering’ into the history of social work and social care. The first is an example of qualitative research using archival sources. The second is equally qualitative involving presentations by two social workers who have published autobiographies.

Qualitative research using archives

Jessamy Carlson is an archivist at the National Archive at Kew, where she is Family and Local History Engagement Lead and Head of the Community and & Transport Team. She is currently working on the history of the Home Office Research Unit, alongside other projects. She recently completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Essex, titled ‘Girls will be girls – Approved Schools in England, 1933-1973’, a study of the development of and practice in Approved Schools for Girls in England and Wales, drawing primarily on material in the National Archive. She will talk about the process of research and the main findings.

Sir Roger Singleton was chief executive of Barnardo's for 21 years. He is a consultant to charities and organisations on their safeguarding policies and practices, he trains board members and senior staff in safeguarding, and he carries out statutory and in-house reviews and investigations into child and adult protection issues. He has served on public inquiries into child abuse in children's homes. Roger will draw on his wide experience to reflect on the findings in Jessamy’s research and the implications for the future of residential care for children.

Social work autobiographies

Two social workers have recently published autobiographies reflecting on their lifetime in social work. In this session they will reflect on their reasons for writing and publishing an autobiography, how they went about it and some key themes from their books.

Malcolm Jordan published Social work and proud 1850-2022  in 2023 (Salisbury, UK, Riverside Publishing Solutions). Malcolm was born and raised in 1930s Peckham, South London. Over seven decades his career in social work has spanned the prison system, community work, psychiatric social work, teaching, central government, senior management roles, residential school and consultancy. A career-long trade unionist and member of BASW, Malcolm is Honorary President of the Social Workers Union and an active member of the Social Work History Network. The book reviews 172 years of social work and family history set in the context of international, national and cultural events.

Julia Ross (the current Chair of BASW) published Call the Social  as an eBook in 2022 (Best Books and Films, UK). Julia is a qualified nurse and social worker. A BASW member since 1972 and the current Chair, Julia is passionate about enhancing the professional standing of social work in an increasingly multi-professional environment. The book recounts her social work career spanning 40 years of key events and policy changes, sometimes being at the centre, and the real-life stories and people Julia has met along the way that make social work such a rich, complex and unique profession. ‘Written with a novelist’s flair, Call the Social is not your average book about social work’.

This is a Social Work History Network event. See recent and upcoming events from the SWHN.

To book

Booking (essential) is now open for this hybrid event, which takes place on 29 June 2023, 14:00 to 16:00 (London). Please click on the appropriate link below to book to attend, either in-person or online.

Book to attend IN-PERSON: Virginia Woolf Building, King's College London, 22 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6LE. Names will be held by Security at the entrance of the building. Find the Virginia Woolf Building (nearest tube: Holborn).

Book to attend ONLINE: The meeting will be on MS Teams. If you register we will send out a Teams link for the seminar a couple of days prior to the event and on the day.