Meet social work’s top bloggers no.8: Abe Laurens

Abe Laurens, whose career has been spent in children and families social work, tells Community Care about what tipped him 'over the edge and into the blogging abyss' and his love of northern soul.

Image: screengrabs (Twitter/Not so big society)

What’s your name or pseudonym?

Abe Laurens  

Where can we find you on the Twitter/blogosphere?

I’m one of a group of writers on The Not So Big Society  – http://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com/ – and can be found Tweeting at @abelaurens

What three words would best describe your blog?

Curious, compassionate, committed

What’s your role in social care?

I’ve been in social work in one role or another all my working life, mostly with children and their families

Why did you start blogging/tweeting?

Like most bloggers, I kid myself that not only do I have something to say, but also that other people want to hear it. I wanted to channel constructively my frustrations accumulated over 30 years’ experience.

Looking back, we are saying similar things and identifying the same problems that I discovered as a fresh-faced residential worker just out of university: nothing seems to change.

What tipped me over the edge and into the blogging abyss (once you start, you can’t stop) was a combination of factors: personal ones about reinforcing my commitment and staying fresh, plus disquiet about how policy and resources were seriously affecting the ability of social workers to care for the vulnerable.

I write as an experienced practitioner who has to put policy into practice. There was never a plan – this is just what came out.

Unless politicians and managers look at the relationship in communities between workers, resources and families, in other words what happens when their decisions finally end up as the face-to-face interaction between user and worker, no progress will be made.

I have enormous faith in those practitioners who are out in the field. I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the dedication and energy of social workers, foster carers and adopters, and at the resilience of many young people and their families.

If you could recommend one of your blog posts to social workers what would it be?

This one covers most of the topics I write about: http://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/shine-a-light/

Can you recommend a social care blog?

Guerilla Policy

Favourite non-social care blog?

Soul Source – rare and northern soul

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in your job?

Young people leaving care being placed in bed and breakfast

What one tip would you give to NQSWs or people thinking about becoming social workers?

Never lose sight of your passion for wanting to be a social worker and never forget to care

What’s your most hated jargon in your job?

Looked after children is one thing but I don’t like it when they are called ‘LACs’.

These days I am accustomed to being asked to pick the low-hanging fruit then drill down for a deep think before emerging for some blue-sky thinking and slot a few ideas into the pool, but sometimes I do wonder….

What’s your biggest social work hope for 2013?

That social work stands up for itself. To tell people what we do, why and why we do it well. That social workers are proud to be social workers.

What’s your biggest social work fear for 2013?

You can’t avoid the fact that diminishing resources will undermine social work and that users will suffer.

Best biscuit for a tea break?

I feel guilty that in some way I’ve let them down but I will forsake the charms of chocolate digestives for butter shortbread. In an act of remarkable self-denial on a par with medieval Carthusian monks, I still have a few biscuits left from my Christmas M&S giftbox. Although come to think of it, it has been a hard week and I deserve a treat…

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