Living Library Project update

Robin Sen, Nora McClelland and Bev Jowett give us an update on their project, which has received support from the Engaged Curriculum initiative.

Since the last blog we have run a second ‘Living Library’ event: on this occasion the books were recent ex-students of the course who were all ‘newly qualified social workers’ (NQSWs) in their first year of practice, a period where most social workers now undertake an Assessed Year in Employment (ASYE), similar to a ‘probationary’ year undertaken by teachers in their first year after professional qualification.

Our recently qualified social workers gave their insights and experiences of the period since their qualification to a group of second year Masters in Social Work students who were about to qualify. As before, Living Books were free to choose their own titles, and the titles and book descriptions of our six books for this session give a glimpse into some of the subject matter covered:

  • “Remind me why I decided to do this? Experiences of a newly qualified social worker in the statutory sector”
  • “Starting off practice in the Voluntary Sector…ASYE and all that”
  • ‘Fake it till you make it: A blagger’s guide to interviews and ASYE in children’s social work’?
  • ‘I could have done with my running shoes for this’: Eight Months of ASYE as a Statutory Children’s Social Worker’.
  • ‘Dude, where’s my Social Worker’; getting to grips with case management and ASYE’.
  • Unspecified title, based around social work and cuts in adult social care.

Many thanks to our ex-students Ade, Anne-Marie, Ellie, Jess, Gina and Katie (not in order of titles) who gave up time for this event.

We have gathered and analysed feedback from Living Books, student participants and partner agencies about the first Living Library event held in September 2014 – the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and very heartening to see. Nora McClelland and Robin Sen presented an oral paper on the Living Library concept based on the first Living Library event and feedback on it at the JSWEC Conference in Milton Keynes in July.

Plans to capture some of the Living Library Experiences are underway with some of our current MA students undertaking a small number of interviews with those who have been Living Books at past events. We intend both that these interviews will be the basis of online learning objects for future students around the insights which Living Books have provided through their lived experience and also that they might serve as a resource for those interested in becoming Living Books in the future. Since the original event in September, we have had contact from a number of people with experience of care and social work services who are interested in taking part in future Living Library events. The interviews should provide an insight into what being a Living Book entails for those who are interested in participating in future events.

We are also busy planning for our next Living Library event in collaboration with Sheffield Young Carers on October 27th, 2015. Here, during the school half-term week, we will be running our first Living Library focussed on young people as Living Books. We hope to combine the event with a tour of the university for the young people, highlighting the principles of reciprocal and mutual exchange between Living Books and Readers which are at the heart of the Living Library concept.

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