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Social Work Theory and Practice - Discuss Anti-Oppressive Theory and one other social work theory and evaluate how they would inform social work aimed at protecting vulnerable people.

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Social Work Theory and Practice Discuss Anti-Oppressive Theory and one other social work theory and evaluate how they would inform social work aimed at protecting vulnerable people. Joint Programme - Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing and Social Work Student number - 50991042 Tutor - Liz Shingler Word count - 2,979 The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) include in their definition of social work the promotion of " change...and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being." People from all social groups can suffer abuse or oppression of some kind or other (though some people are at greater risk) and I feel that the above definition suggests that a role of social work is to help protect vulnerable people against abuse. In this essay I will explore anti-oppressive and task-centred theories and ways in which these can be employed to counter abuse and discrimination. I will illustrate this with an example from my practice and take a closer look at the term "abuse" and some of the things we mean by it. Following this I intend to examine the role of the social worker in protecting vulnerable individuals and groups against abuse and oppression. The terms "oppression" and "discrimination" are sometimes used interchangeably. However, Thompson (1997) defines discrimination as "...prejudicial behaviour acting against the interests of those people who characteristically belong to relatively powerless is a matter of social formation as well as individual/group behaviour...". He states that oppression involves "...hardship and injustice brought about by the dominance of one group over another; the negative and demeaning exercise of power." Thompson proposed his PCS analysis in order to provide a framework enabling practitioners to examine issues of oppression and discrimination.


I became involved with the family some time after they received a demand for over four-thousand pounds in over paid housing benefit. I sought assistance from Manchester Advice and was informed that they could not offer us any help as the matter was being investigated as a fraudulent claim. Acting on advice from the area's law centre, I wrote to the city treasury asking them to review the case and suspend any enforcement. I fed the information back to Mrs. NJB and suggested that I might seek further guidance from the local Citizens' Advice Bureau. The CAB worker recommended that the family consult a solicitor. She offered the contact details of three local firms. I telephoned the practices and discovered that one of them was close to the family home, specialised in benefit and debt problems and had a Sylheti speaking solicitor. I relayed this to Mrs. NJB and Mr. AM, who were keen for me to make an appointment. I attended the initial consultation. In my work with Mr AM and his family I employed both anti-oppressive and task-centred theories. Thompson states that empowerment is a "...central feature of ADP...". Providing Black and Asian service users with information on the resources available is empowering and a step towards ADP. However, as the National Strategic Framework acknowledges, services are not equally accessible to all groups; people from minority ethnic groups and older people are at a disadvantage in terms of receiving services suitable for their needs. This will require change at the S or structural level such as that proposed in the Housing green paper. Funding of black community groups goes some way to empowering non-white communities - i.e. has had an effect at the C or community level.


by respite provision); relationships where the carer has mental or physical health needs which are unmet (action on Elder Abuse 2002). The members of BASW adhere to a code of ethics which requires social workers to protect and promote the dignity, individuality, rights, responsibilities and identity of service users. We have already said that people have a right to live in safety and without fear, so social workers need to guard against the abuse of clients by ensuring "...the protection of service users, which may include setting appropriate limits and exercising authority, with the objective of safe-guarding them...". BASW also urge workers to move for change at an S level by challenging social structures "which perpetuate inequalities", whilst acting at the P level by making sure not to act under the influence of prejudice against any person or group on any grounds. Social workers are obliged not to use their professional status/relationships to "... gain personal, material or financial advantage...". I feel that maintaining scrutiny of one's own and other's conduct and constantly monitoring one's values and attitudes is very difficult and draining and so workers need to have good managerial support (e.g. regular and constructive supervision) and membership of a mutually supportive team plus adequate co-operation and communication across disciplines. I have endeavoured to give a brief description of Thompson's PCS analysis of anti-oppressive theory, and a short account of some of the main features of task-centred theory. I have used a practice example to illustrate how these may be used to counter discrimination. Following this I have looked at the types of abuse suffered by children/young people and adults and have examined the social workers role in protecting vulnerable people from abuse.

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