Creative practice and research synergies: changing lives through mentoring and listening to the voices of potentially excluded learners Nasra Bibi, Linda Douglas, Mo McPhail
Identified need ….
BMEG - Black and Minority Ethnic
Action plan Sub-Group (SSSC 2006)
Employers and education providers.. “ should promote the diversification of the social services workforce by
Considering what action they should take to encourage and support people from BME communities into the workforce , eg. Targeted trainee schemes, support for students applying to courses and while on courses”…..
Research –based practice
1. Educating Sita: Black and
Minority Ethnic entrants into
social work training in
Scotland ( Singh, 1999)
2. Listening to the Silence; Black and Minority Ethnic People in Scotland talking about social work ( Singh, 2005)
Educating Sita: Black and Minority Ethnic entrants into social work training in Scotland
An overview of social work
education for BME students in Scotland
in 1999 indicated;
“ the importance with which the issue of equal opportunities is taken by those involved in social work education and training in Scotland”…
And that “ policy and practices are of a piecemeal fashion, fragmented in approach and uncoordinated in strategy ” (Singh, 1999 p. 20)
As a direct result of this research…
A consultancy service was set up for BME social work students
Partnership with a community based Multi-Cultural family support and practice learning resource, a BME consultant and social work education providers
Partnership between 4 universities
A rolling programme of support and consultancy, based on a strengths based approach
See Seminar report :” Have we got it Right?( 2006)
Listening to the Silence; Black and Minority Ethnic People in Scotland talking about social work (Singh, 2005)
An action research based approach, employing BME researchers to research within own community networks
Looked at historical context of social welfare and the context of racism in Scotland
Findings – difficult to get a clear perception, very vague notion of social work and some inaccurate ideas
Identified paradox that BME communities are the most disadvantaged communities across a range of domains but have little understanding or contact with social services
Signposts from this research…
An understanding of the need for accurate
information of social work relevant to the needs of BME communities
Universities should develop links with local BME communities, developing networks and relationships, open day events, seminars in partnership with BME organisations
Social work programmes should consider how BME students are supported from access through to employment
Importance of a strengths based approach as opposed to a ‘deficit’ model
The resultant model:
Partnership between social work providers and local BME organisations
Shared networking, community based Information Events
BME mentoring and language support services for BME learners
Theoretical basis : Black Community development model and a strengths based approach, in recognition of institutional barriers in predominately white education providers
Understanding of complexity of potentially excluded learners across race and ethnicity, gender, disability and socio-economic class
Importance of influencing a social services curriculum that connects to Scotland’s diverse communities
Ideas into Practice – the Project Worker’s story
The experience of co-ordinating ideas into practice
Achievements and challenges
Focus on the voices of potentially excluded learners
The experience of co-ordinating
Ideas into practice
Taking a community development approach -Where in black people are the experts and catalyst for bringing about change, learning is a tool used to strengthen communities by improving people's knowledge, skills and confidence. organisational ability and resources.
Developing partnerships with mainstream providers was crucial in our overall goal regarding institutional responsibility and change
MCFB role in accessing community networks and history of working with local families, relationships built on trust.
Continuous evaluation with mentors and learners helped develop appropriate curriculum which does not place black people in the place of ‘other’ – different or deficient
Role of BME mentors and language support tutor evolved through experience, traditional concept of mentor didn’t transfer neatly to learners needs – mentors useful at different points
Language support tutor influenced curriculum content as a direct result of listening to the voices of learners
Importance of having BME mentors as positive role models.
Community Development with people who have been excluded is a long term process, doesn’t fit in neatly with a target driven economy
Encouraging an intersectional analysis of inequality and securing commitment to embedding learning within mainstream providers
Resources, adequate funding and time
The voices of learners
“ I enjoyed Understanding Society because it made me think, read and write in English, but I could not do this course without the language support.”
“ The Understanding Children reader was really good. It’s been useful for my own children and for my job as a crèche worker”
‘ For the first time a student used the telephone to communicate in English’.
‘ A very shy woman now comes regularly into MCFB and communicates with Project staff’.
Feedback from mentors
“ I couldn’t have done it without all the support but I did do it”
November 2005-March 2006
9 participants in the first short course
September 2006-January 2007
11 participants in the second series of courses
June 2007-October 2007
6 participants in the third services of courses
Service users include 26 individuals from North African, Asian, and Polish backgrounds
BME mentoring and support
The experience of mentoring/
The experience of being a mentor
Focus on the voices of potentially
Identifying individual and institutional challenges
Consider the following
What action could be taken to support the BME students in these situations?
What action does the course provider need to consider?
What learning from this workshop can you take back and apply in your own organisation?