Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work

Working with Teams, Groups and Communities in Social Work

Thursday, 02 November 2017


This year we have added the new module 'U48840: Working with Teams, Groups and Communities' to our Social Work programme.

As central government spending cuts continue to bite, social workers are increasingly asked to look beyond traditional services to meet their clients’ needs [1]. This often means using informal resources within communities, for example babysitting circles, time banks, lunch clubs and so on. But what happens when they simply aren’t there?

The social work profession has a long and proud history of helping communities to develop supports to meet their own needs. This dates back to the period of austerity following the Second World War, when the ‘welfare state’ had not yet developed to its current extent. This year the Social Work programme at Oxford Brookes University has put community development work back on the curriculum.

“We want tomorrow’s social workers to be able to work with communities to help them develop and grow their own supports.” - Jon Hyslop (Module Leader)

As a part of the new module, students are asked to produce profiles of four local communities. On Friday 27 October they presented them to one another, and to members of Oxford City Council’s Communities Team. The communities profiled were:

  • People living in Rose Hill
  • Young people (11-19) in Blackbird Leys
  • Mothers living in Cowley
  • People who are 'street homeless' in Oxford. 

The presentations were well-received and guests from the City Council were able to provide students with helpful additional information about the needs of communities and the steps being taken to meet them, including further details about the City Council's strategic plan.

Social Work City Council

“The teams from Oxford City Council and the County Council have been very generous with their time and local expertise. This adds an important element of reality to the work that students produce.” - Jon Hyslop

The new module is part of a wider relationship the Social Work programme enjoys with local agencies and community groups. This includes working with them to provide practice learning opportunities, and developing research projects that help providers demonstrate the benefit of their services and improve the way they work.

“We hope that in future years, the profiles students develop can be used to support funding applications or local development strategies. Wherever possible we try to design learning experiences for students that also have benefits for local people.” - Jon Hyslop

[1] Erens, B. Wistow, G. Mounier-Jack et al (2015) Early evaluation of the Integrated Care and Support Pioneers Programme: Final Report. London: Policy Innovation  Research Unit.