Social workers need cultural training

Social workers in the North East are failing to provide culturally
sensitive services to asylum seekers because of a lack of

Lin Harwood, senior lecturer at Northumbria University, told
Community Care that social services departments and
undergraduate university courses in the North East weren’t
providing enough training in how to meet the needs of asylum

Harwood said she was concerned that media myths and hard-line
government rhetoric on asylum seekers could affect the way staff

“I can see that, most of the time, initial training will not have
given them the opportunity to acquire the skills or knowledge of
cultural, cross-community practice and working across cultural
barriers,” she said.

Harwood highlighted asylum law, cultural interpretation, the impact
of stress and anxiety, and mental health as areas where social
workers lacked particular understanding. She called for mandatory
training to replace the currently ad-hoc approach of most social
services departments.

Harwood said the problem was a particular issue for the North East
because it was an area of little ethnic diversity, but one where
the government had recently started housing asylum seekers under
its dispersal policy.

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