Professor Joyce Lishman, 1947-2021

We were all very sorry to hear about the death of Joyce Lishman last week. Joyce was one of those special people. Not only was she an academic leader, teacher, researcher, publisher and writer, she was also a proud social worker, and it was her mission throughout her life to make social work and social workers the best they could be.  But even that does not tell the whole story. Joyce was a devoted wife, partner and mother, and a loyal friend – a genuine human being who was modest about her many achievements and who genuinely cared about everything that she was involved in.

Joyce graduated from Oxford University in 1968 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She subsequently came to the University of Edinburgh where she undertook a Diploma in Social Study, followed by a Diploma in Social Work, graduating in 1970. She then worked as a social worker for many years, firstly in child and family psychiatry in Edinburgh, and then moving to Aberdeen where she worked on a research project investigating social work practice. The methodology used in this research as ground-breaking at the time in its use of video to analyse social work interviews. This research became the subject of her PhD at the University of Aberdeen. Joyce went on from this to develop a new social work service for children with cancer or leukaemia and their families, and a bereavement service for families where a child had died.

In 1985, Joyce joined Robert Gordon Institute of Technology, Aberdeen, as a Lecturer in Social Work and was later promoted to Senior Lecturer. By 1993, she had become the first woman Professor at what is now called Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Head of the School of Applied Social Studies, a position she held until her retirement in 2011. During her time at RGU, Joyce continued to research and write on social work practice as well as leading in the development of social work education in Scotland. She was Chair of the Heads of Social Work Education Group for a number of years, and through this work, promoted much stronger links between social work programmes and with the Scottish Government. She also played a key role in the development of knowledge within social work worldwide, through her editorship of the pioneering book series, ‘Research Highlights in Social Work’, published by Jessica Kingsley in London. This series not only put social work research in Scotland on the global map, but also contributed to the creation of a firm evidence-base for social work policy and practice across the world. Joyce was responsible for taking 26 books through to completion, on subjects as diverse as co-production, child protection and women offenders. But it was her writing on practice learning and on communication that has probably had greatest impact on the profession. Students, practice educators and social workers themselves all remember fondly what they learned from Joyce, as the flurry of tweets over the last week demonstrates.

In retirement, Joyce continued to champion social work through her appointment as council member of the Scottish Social Services Council. She also developed her connections with the voluntary sector in Scotland. She was a co-founder of the venture philanthropy organisation, ‘Inspiring Scotland’, as well being a Director of the ‘Aberlour Childcare Trust’ and a trustee of ‘Voluntary Services Aberdeen’. In 2018, as part of its social work centenary year, The University of Edinburgh awarded Joyce the Degree of Doctor honor causa, in recognition of her contribution to social work and social work education worldwide.

When Joyce was invited to write her story for our centenary pages, she was asked what her thoughts were, looking ahead. Her response was so ‘Joyce’. She said, “Times are tough for new graduates…”

Viv Cree

Emerita Professor of Social Work Studies

The University of Edinburgh

2nd February 2021

If you want to read more about Joyce please see our Centenary Alumni pages http://www.socialwork.ed.ac.uk/centenary/people/alumni/joyce_lishman

Mental Health and Care Experienced Children and Young People: A partnership for change

Why is it so difficult to get the help we need?  Why don’t residential care workers and others know more about our mental health needs?  These questions were at the heart of why care experienced young people at Who Cares? wanted to create a training for workers about mental health.

Our project, ‘Mental Health and Care Experienced Children and Young People: A partnership for change’  has brought together CEYP from West Lothian and Glasgow, Who Cares? Scotland, academics and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) in order to improve understanding of the mental health challenges facing CEYP and to develop an online interactive workshop on the approaches that are found to be effective.   This week, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, we are piloting our online training course with social workers and young people.  We have also developed a Podcast with the support of the Triumph Network , please give it a listen.

Research evidence indicates that care experienced children and young people (CEYP) face significantly higher levels of mental health issues than the general population (Dale et al., 2016).  It doesn’t have to be this way.  If we engage with  the views and experiences of CEYP and work in partnership, we can find solutions that will work (Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force, 2019).   For more information about our project get in touch with

Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh at: a.roeschmarsh@ed.ac.uk or Dr Pearse McCusker at:  pearse.mccusker@ed.ac.uk

If Black Lives Matter then we have to tackle Hate Crime in Scotland

 Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Scotland is often considered to be one of the world’s most friendly, welcoming countries (as well as being voted as such), and having the best LGBT+ legal equality in Europe.

However, is this borne out in reality? Annual data published by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service demonstrates that hate crime and prejudice in all their forms continue to be lived, everyday realities for many of our citizens in Scotland, with an increase in the number of charges reported in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19 for all categories of hate crime.  There were 5612 charges in 2019-20, an increase of 698 from the previous reporting year. Worryingly, this will only ever be part of the picture – there is a consensus in the literature that it is under-reported (for many reasons), particularly hate crime relating to disability and transgender identity (Walters et al 2016).  It is also notable that the data gathered and published by the Crown Office reflects only the amount of charges and not convictions (these are typically far less), and does not account for crimes that have not been reported, the numerous hate incidents (any incident that is not a criminal offence, but perceived by the victim or any other to be motivated by hate or prejudice), or unconscious, institutional, and structural bias.

There are also troubling reports that hate crime has increased during (or as a direct impact of) the coronavirus pandemic, with England and Wales reporting a three-fold increase in hate crime, and anecdotal evidence on this emerging in Scotland.  This potentially reflects notions of ‘scapegoating’ when theorising the causes of hate crime, a blaming of ‘others’ for society’s ills (Roberts et al 2013). This is also against a backdrop of the growing body of evidence demonstrating that ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, highlighting fundamental socio-economic inequalities in the UK and beyond.

Of course, it’s not just about the numbers and statistics.  Research indicates that hate crime is more harmful to victims and communities than parallel offences, with wide-ranging emotional and psychological harms, and vicarious trauma felt by community members.  It’s damaging to community cohesion, and often aims to ‘send a message’ (whether literally, or symbolically) to individuals, groups, and communities that they are ‘not welcome’ (Walters et al 2016).  Many authors highlight that black and ethnic minority victims of hate offences are likely to be more negatively impacted by the offence than white majority group victims due to it constituting “a painful reminder of the cultural heritage of past and ongoing discrimination, stereotyping, and stigmatization of their identity group” (Iganski and Lagou 2015).  This is a potentially important point to note for practitioners working with people who commit hate crime belonging to ‘majority groups’, who may blame victims or groups for perceived slights and/or the offence(s) for which they have been convicted.

Recent events in the USA have served to bring racial prejudice, bias, and hate into stark relief, with people across the world mobilising like never before in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Scotland is not exempt from racial prejudice, injustice, and harm; racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime, with 3,038 charges relating to race crime reported in 2019-20, an increase of 4% compared to 2018-19 (with the aforementioned caveat relating to underreporting). These international events have sparked a much-needed interrogation of many of our own institutions and practices, and it remains vital that, despite improved responses to hate crimes/incidents by statutory agencies in Scotland, we must ensure we are not supporting the perpetuation of prejudice and take necessary action to prevent and reduce this.

Scotland is also at an important moment in time in terms of its innovative review of hate crime legislation, with the new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill being introduced to Parliament on 23 April 2020.  The proposed changes have not been without criticism, however, with concerns regarding freedom of speech coming from several quarters and potentially obscuring the positive changes the legislation seeks to bring.

In these troubling and challenging times, it is clear that hate and prejudice remain an issue at all levels of society, across the globe, and it appears to be more of an issue in Scotland than many of us may think.  For me, as a social work practitioner and researcher, it is therefore imperative to explore some key questions:

  • What drives people to target and harm other people on the basis of certain identity characteristics?
  • What are the individual/interpersonal, community-level, and wider structural ‘causes’ of hate crime?
  • Can we truly say that purely hate is the motivating factor?

The motivations or drivers that lead people to commit hate crime are an under-researched area. The very recent SCCJR report, ‘Taking Stock of Violence in Scotland’ recognises this, noting that existing inequalities and exclusion are exacerbated by the “repeat and routinised” nature of everyday hate crime and incidents in Scotland’s communities, many of which are not reported to the police as has been highlighted. The report emphasises that hate crime in Scotland should therefore be a focus for future research.

To this end, my social work PhD research is an attempt to shed further light on how and why hate crime occurs, by speaking directly to the very people convicted of hate crime in Scotland and gaining their accounts. This became of significant interest to me during my role as a Justice Social Worker, seconded to explore hate crime and our role in working with people who commit it, and led to the implementation of a restorative justice service within the statutory justice social work service I worked in to address the harms of hate crime. I feel it is vital to listen as closely as we can to the accounts of people who commit hate crime, in order to begin to truly understand the ‘motivators’ that underlie hate crime.  This will add to the body of research and interventions to address the harms of this type of offending, with the aim of reducing re-offending in this area.  I hope to be able to add depth to the existing research, and to explore the different intersecting levels that may contribute to hate crime occurring. Greater knowledge of the dynamics of hate crime may better inform our responses to it (including the wider use of restorative justice), and prevent further re-victimisation and harm.

The author of this blog is Rania Hamad, PhD Candidate in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh.   Follow her work on Twitter @RaniaHamad11

References:

Iganski, P and Lagou, S (2015) ‘Hate Crimes Hurt Some More Than Others: Implications for the Just Sentencing of Offenders’, Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2015 Vol 30(10): 1696-1718.

Roberts, Dr C et al (2013) Understanding who commits hate crime and why they do it.  Welsh Government Social Research Report No. 38/2013.

Walters, M, Brown, R and Wiedlitzka, S (2016) Causes and motivations of hate crime.  Equality and Human Rights Commission Research Report 102.

Humanity must unite lest we can’t breathe…

George Floyd’s last words, ‘I can’t breathe’ as he was dying, have in some strange way touched humanity’s moral chord. Handcuffed and pinned to the floor, the killing of a 46-year old black man by a white police officer kneeling on his neck has reenergised the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, rallying a cry for equality and justice and propelling global protests against racism hitherto unseen. It has also led to a period of reflection by majority populations, about how minorities are viewed, understood and treated. As a social work department we need to be engaged with these debates, while also giving a commitment to looking at the change we can and must make alongside expecting change of others.

The deaths of Sheku Bayoh, Jimmy Mubenga and Stephen Lawrence amongst others in the UK is emblematic of a deep malaise that inflicts our society – racism and social inequalities that mar the lives of minorities, and is reflected internationally, for example, in aboriginal deaths in custody in Australia, the decades of missing indigenous women in Canada or the lynching of minorities in India. Such deaths raise a profound question – what value do we place on the life of a human being?

These deaths painfully demonstrate the lack of institutional willingness to address wider issues and implement reforms. In these cases, and many more, we have witnessed people losing their lives through strong arm tactics, driven by racial prejudices and bias, causing untold pain to the families, friends and communities of victims. The systemic violence against black and other minorities cannot be viewed only through the lens of the civil rights movement in the US, or that of the West alone – the othering of minorities is a deeply entrenched lived experience of many across the world, though manifested differently due to context. For example, the caste system in India which continues to cause enormous divisions is a bane on India’s conscience, while in Scotland the treatment of travellers and the Roma population reinforce the need for change. It is not helped when politicians and leaders, in the UK and elsewhere, use belittling or inflammatory language which gives comfort to those who seek to marginalise, oppress and scapegoat.

We need to see violence as one of the many outworkings of systemic racism. The history of minorities is one of struggle – the US civil rights movement, India’s freedom struggle, Mandela’s fight against apartheid and the treatment of the Windrush generation are replete with memories of people peacefully protesting against oppression and tyranny. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent movement—a powerful, passive resistance to brutal colonial powers, leading to the collapse of the British Raj in India is a perfect embodiment of people power standing against the strangleholds of the mighty. As Michelle Obama said: “when they go low, we go high”.

As the Black Lives Matter demonstrations show, reimagining a brighter future for us and for the generations to come, requires courage and kindness, and humanity must unite to defeat racism and prejudice in our society. We cannot forget the history of colonialism and slavery – we need to learn from these, if we are truly committed to promoting equality, fairness and justice. We need to ask ourselves how history and social issues are taught in our contemporary educational curricula from kindergarten through to our universities: Do colonial lootings and trading of Africans as slaves to work in the plantations of the New World feature in our history books, and accounts of the history of our own institution? Is the systematic mistreatment of first nations people in Australia, New Zealand and north America discussed? What about the current hostile climate and policy towards migrants, evident in the harsh treatment of asylum seekers, including the abuse of people in immigration centres? How might we decolonise the curriculum and view events through a subaltern lens? The oppressive practices of the powerful continue to cause climate change, destroying the natural world and impacting the poorest most, disenfranchising the indigenous people – the clash of haves and have nots. Envisioning an egalitarian society requires us to sow the seeds of inclusive learning from early on so that we have a fuller understanding of our own history.

The need of the hour is a genuine commitment to address the structural issues that engender and perpetuate the inequalities that divide our society today, and ultimately lead to situations where individuals feel they have the right and the justification to oppress others. It is also about what we do that upholds and reinforces discriminatory and oppressive attitudes and practices. Be it in academia, our criminal justice system or in the corridors of power, we need to appreciate the true meaning of equality. While social work has played an important part in challenging racism and oppression over many decades, we cannot shy away from the part that social work has played in supporting racialised and oppressive practices at both an individual and institutional level. If change is to be lasting, it has to come from within – one way to move forward is a critical evaluation of the workforce in an organisation, including the University of Edinburgh, and to see how diversity is represented in the structures of decision-making; as Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Lives lost are a reflection of our collective failure to stand up for others in their time of need. It has never been a greater truism that evil thrives when good people do nothing. There is therefore a moral imperative to support peaceful protests and to create awareness and a genuine global conscientization. The cost of moral injury when we do not stand up for the disenfranchised, the voiceless and the millions of invisible men, women, children and non-binary people in many parts of the world who struggle on a daily basis against naked oppression and tyranny will continue to lead to many lives lost to oppressive strangleholds.

As a department of social work our commitment is to look again, with a critical eye at what we teach and how. We have asked our student body to join us in doing this over the summer, and we are grateful for the many offers of assistance received to reconceive and co-produce our curriculum around race and ethnicity. We are also hopeful that initiatives such as Race.ED, a cross-university hub for research and teaching on race, ethnicity and decolonial thought, can help us as an institution to make meaningful change. It is about committing to promote diversity, inclusiveness and non-violence, while recognising that we need to do more than provide equality of opportunity to redress more significant structural inequalities.

Finally, it is positive to see the wider social work community in Scotland, other parts of the UK and internationally engage in this process of reflection, discussion and action. We look forward to collaborating with colleagues on these issues as we must all play an active part in making and sustaining the change which is required.

Humanity must unite so that we all can breathe – breathing the healing air of ‘shared humanity’ – where Martin Luther King Jr’s dreams can be realised for all; where Rabindranath Tagore’s vision of a world “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high … into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake” engenders a real reflection of who we are and how we value and treat others as equal human beings.

Dr George Palattiyil, Prof John Devaney and the social work staff group at the University of Edinburgh

(Thanks to James Eades @jmeeades for sharing his image on Unsplash)

Who Cares Scotland? / University of Edinburgh

post it notes

 

A blog written by Dr Christina McMellon

It started with an idea. How can we support social workers to think more about the links between care experience and mental health?

And so, in order to answer the question, we successfully applied for a small grant from University of Edinburgh’s Knowledge Exchange Fund to bring a small group of people who know something about the topic together to explore that question.

On 30th January, three young people from 439 (West Lothian’s Champion’s Board) three members of staff from Who Cares Scotland and three academics came together to start thinking through the links between care experience and mental health. All of the people in the group have important knowledge and experiences and expertise that we can use to help us answer our question. By working together over the next few months we think we can create something pretty special.

We started with some amazing discussions about 2 main questions:

  • What are the main things that impact on care-experienced young people’s mental health?
  • What could adults do to help?

We also ate quite a lot of pizza and looked at some videos and leaflets that other groups of young people have made to share their experiences and opinions of the care system.

This was the group’s overall favourite: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-northern-ireland-48466031/kids-in-care-changing-the-language

Over 6 meetings we will continue these discussions to develop and facilitate a training session for several groups of trainees and professionals working with care-experienced young people. We’ll also be looking at the existing academic evidence about this topic (what we already know from the research that people have already done) and we’ll be thinking about how we can create some sort of resource to share what we are learning.

In order to give you a wee taster of the discussion we asked a few group participants to tell us what they thought was the most important thing that we discussed tonight:

“The most important this was when we discussed what adults can do to help us, cos I think we discussed multiple times what affects care-experienced young people and stuff so it was nice to think about what adults can do for us and what we actually want…like just being there for us and just listening.”

“I think the most important thing we talked about was connections, like having a connection with an adult and keeping that connection going and not losing it. Keeping that connection and keeping the trust.”

“I think it was really good to talk about what the issues are but then immediately to move into the what can we do takes us into a wee bit of a different space which is nice.”

For more information get in touch with

Dr Pearse McCusker pearse.mccusker@ed.ac.uk

or Dr Autumn Roesch-Marsh at a.roeschmarsh@ed.ac.uk