Social work in society

Hannah Madsen

Faculty: Health, Social Care & Education
Department: School of Education and Social Care
Course: BA (Hons) Social Work
Category: Social sciences and social care

19 August 2015

When I first heard that one of my semester 2 modules was going to be social work in society I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought it might have been to do with society in general, but that was very broad – and wishful! – thinking.

We began with lectures around poverty and social exclusion, in particular the history of poverty and the working class, which considers aspects such as the workhouse and introduction of the working wage. The main themes in our assignment questions became clear, they grabbed my attention straight away and I was eager to become a learning sponge!

When considering poverty and social exclusion I feel as though much is downplayed in society, and many have very little understanding of the extent of poverty in the United Kingdom – as well as the effect poverty has on both an individual and community. I especially had very little understanding of this, and it really did open my eyes to the problems that we face as a generation. 13 million people in the UK are in poverty and half of these people live in a working family, who will be affected greatly by wages falling. This is significant, as many assume those who are receiving any type of benefit get too much money, have more children to get more money, live in a very large house with all types of electrical appliances, enjoying themselves every day with all their money. It is not realistic to think or perceive people in such a way, and this is not the reality despite the many articles in the papers.

We learn how all individuals are affected differently by poverty and these can range from short-term effects to long-term effects. Depression can occur in individuals who are faced with difficult decisions and drop below the poverty line. As mentioned before, many of those in poverty are actually working or part of a working family so we then recognise that poverty and social exclusion are not caused by personal fault.

The module is full of information on poverty and social exclusion, considering cultural differences where appropriate. It definitely helps you understand social exclusion and why and how this may happen within communities. Social exclusion is basically where individuals of families are cut off from a community, or even a community cut off from a society. There are many different forms which directly impacts the individual. We have to consider what social exclusion may result in, for example mental health issues. Of course, coming across such news of job loss, resulting in having to fill in a benefit form for the first time in your life, can have serious psychological effects.

A few tips for when the module begins: research, research, research! Look at the poverty statistics and try and use these where you can. Use the websites and information you are given, you may think it’s not relevant but it is. Much of the learning is extremely independent but you will get help from your module lecturer where appropriate. One big recommendation is try as much as you can to attend every lecture. After the first semester, the second semester may seem quite slow in comparison. However it is still crucial for you to attend every lecture to obtain as much information as you can. You are always bound to learn something new in every lecture, or hear a new experience which is what makes the lectures especially interesting. Where some students have previous experience they tend to share stories. Crucial lectures will be where guests come in from local authorities or charity organisations, producing vast amounts of information concerning particular service user areas.
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