Going Local: Working in Communities and Neighbourhoods

book cover for reviews

Going Local: Working in Communities and Neighbourhoods
John Pierson
Routledge in association with Community Care
ISBN 9780 415 32840 1
Star rating 3/5

The themes and aspirations in this book are timeless, writes Anthony Douglas. Pierson focuses on the close links between social class, poverty and the need for social care. Only recently has the focus of social care been primarily on the individual as a psychological and not a social animal. Pierson argues for a “re-balancing”, for a model of relationship-based social care located firmly in local neighbourhoods and communities – crossover practice as he calls it.

“Place-shaping” is big business it is a partial solution to new and old forms of social exclusion. Places are being shaped by a host of social trends, not just clashes of cultures. Social care does need to develop a distinct identity, with clear values, which is as relevant in the future as it was in the past. Pierson’s book reminds us that the exclusive focus on managing risk and resources is ultimately arid and self-defeating unless an element of community capacity-building and support for local networks is mainstreamed.

The weakness of the book is its use of exemplars to illustrate how a revived community-based approach might be reconciled with the increased bureaucratic tasks faced by social care workers on individual cases.

Similarly, the very inequalities that community programmes have been seeking to reduce are as widespread, iniquitous and ubiquitous as ever.

Pierson’s book is a reminder that the current trajectory of social care risks undermining the very value base that makes sense to practitioners. Students in particular will be helped by his sharp and logical arguments.

Anthony Douglas is chief executive of Cafcass


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