Key messages and updates around learning, development and training for Manchester Children’s Services.
Reflections on Being an Ally…
With Black and Minority Colleagues
Liz Howard (BASW England) led a thought-provoking session for staff, students and apprentices across Children’s Services on the theme of Anti-Racism in Social Work on 2nd June. She spoke from the perspective of a white woman who wants to be an ally to Black and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families. Liz shared a range of ideas and resources to help all of us who work in Children’s Services to reflect on our practice and to examine our experiences, our thoughts and feelings in relation to race, ethnicity, identity and to help us consider how we can promote an anti-racist culture in our work. We were encouraged to share the presentation with our teams and to think about the impact of racism on individuals, families and communities as well as considering the experience of racism as part of our assessments, plans and interventions with children, young people, parents and carers. Liz recommended a book called ‘Outlanders – Hidden Narratives from social workers of colour,’ published by BASW.
There was a really positive exchange of ideas between participants (using the Teams chat) which encouraged us to be honest and to keep talking and listening to each other. Thanks to Debbie El Sheikh for organising this session, to Liz Howard for her presentation and to all those who took part for making it so engaging and meaningful. The session has given me new energy to work on being a better ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families as well as providing some resources to help me target this energy more effectively. We also heard about a website for children and young people in Greater Manchester: http://kidsofcolour.com/
Like Liz Howard, I am a white woman who wants to be an ally to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues, children and families. There is a lot that I don’t yet know and my experience is limited but I am open to learning. I know I will get some things wrong but I want to keep learning and growing in my understanding. I hope we can continue the conversation that some colleagues have been having all their lives and others of us have only joined more recently.
- Beck Soloway,
Social Work Consultant,
With Children and Young People
Those who have the least power in our world, if we think about this, are children and young people. Adults dictate their schedules, construct the cities and towns they grow up in, make the laws they will be subject to, dictate what they can do when, where and often how. Of course some will say, ‘that’s life’. And it is. But… It’s not our life, it’s theirs. Children’ and young people live with the judgements and decisions made by adults and figure out how to meet adult expectations, or, how to get around what is being asked of them. They learn how to navigate the social landscape with the resources they have available to them. We, as professionals, walk alongside children and young people for brief periods in their lives. The question is; What will we be to them during our time with them.?
Generally, professionals can take on two roles in the lives of children. As a passive passenger or an active enabler. As a passenger we look, we gather, we comment, we talk about. As an active enabler we seek to understand without judgement, give voice to and involve. To be the latter we need to be attune to the individual in order to act as effective agents of change for the child or young person working with them and their families. Thinking of our practice framework, Signs of Safety, how well is this used to understand and give voice to children and young people? Are we utilising this as a passive passenger, or, active enablers?
- ▪ The Social Worker Who Changed My Life
- ▪ Untold Stories: A Discussion of Life Story Work
- ▪ Lessons of a First Time Social Worker: The Story of John
One way of being an ally for children is helping them and their families to access resources that will help their development and wellbeing. In the current context, The Holiday Activity Fund, a government grant funding available to support children and young people eligible for income related free school meals over school holidays is available.