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Social work and neglect 1948-today: From 'the cruelty man' and 'the problem family' via 'prevention' to 'safeguarding'

Booking for this hybrid event is via links at the foot of this page.

June Thoburn will illustrate a 'time line' of key events and the changing discourse of ‘neglect’ with some reflections of working as a family caseworker in Children’s Departments 1963- mid 70s.

Michael Lambert discusses his archival research using social work and family rehabilitation centre records to provide insights into how different professional groups worked with the ‘problem family’ between 1948 and 1974.

Marian Brandon brings her perspective on ‘neglect and social work’ from the 1980s onwards as a LA family social worker, researcher and lead author of Serious Case Reviews.


Marian was a social worker for 10 years before taking up her academic post at UEA, where she is now Emeritus Professor of Social Work. Her research interests over the years have been child protection, family support and interagency working. For over 15 years she directed national analyses of serious case reviews for first the Welsh Government and then the Department for Education in England. Stemming from the SCR studies, she became particularly interested in neglect, carrying out a neglect study for the NSPCC in 2013 and being part of a team constructing guidance about indicators of neglect for practitioners (for the DfE) in 2014. Most recently she has been co-lead of a large team researching men as fathers in child protection.
Brandon, M., Bailey, S., Belderson, P. (2014) The role of neglect in child fatality and serious injury, Child Abuse Review, 23 (4) 235-245.
Brandon, M., Glaser, D., Maguire, S and McCrory E., Lushey, C., and Ward, H. (2014) Missed opportunities: indicators of neglect – what is ignored, why and what can be done? Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, DFE-RR404.

Michael is a Research Fellow and Director of Widening Participation at Lancaster Medical School. His work explores the history of the welfare state in twentieth-century Britain and its Empire, using archival sources to link decision-making about individuals to national policies. His doctoral thesis used 2,000 case files of 'problem families' to explore the work of child care officers, family caseworkers, health visitors and a range of statutory and voluntary officials during the 'classic' welfare state from 1945 to 1974. He has served as an expert witness to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in 2019 regarding child migration practices of the Fairbridge Society and for the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the forced adoption of children of unmarried mothers in 2021. His first monograph, Managing decline: governing the National Health Service in Liverpool, 1978-1996 is under contract with Liverpool University Press.

June is an Emeritus Professor of Social Work at UEA. After qualifying as a Child Care Officer in 1963, her first appointment was as a Family Casework in Leicester Children’s Department when, working closely with FSU, they set up a ‘prevention’ service following Sec 1 of the 1963 Act. As a Senior CCO in Norwich in 1967 she was responsible for ‘preventive’ services. After a spell as a patch social worker and researching families of children ‘home on trial’ (Captive Clients’ was published in 1980; re-issued 2023) she had a joint appointment at UEA, where her teaching and research have ranged from family support to adoption. Her post 1989-Act study Family Support in cases of emotional maltreatment and neglect drew on this earlier experience.

To book

Booking (essential) is now open for this hybrid event, which takes place on Monday 17 June 2024, 14:00 to 16:00 (UK). Please click on the appropriate link below to book to attend, either in person or online. All welcome!

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.

We will have a tea break at around 15:00.

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For updates please contact Stephen Martineau.

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