Olive Stevenson, Professor of Social Work was a wise woman in many respects. As a teacher and writer she had the ability to communicate in a way which connected with social workers and the realities of practice as well as consistently reflecting her understanding and appreciation of the complexities of the lives of children and families. She had an enduring ability to retain and convey her belief in the value of social work, that it could make a difference in people’s lives and to inspire others to ‘want to go out and do it’, which is rare.
It is therefore right that the Centre for Social Work Practice acknowledge our special debt and gratitude to her for her contribution to the development of the Centre, her brief tenure as a patron prior to her death in September 2013, and above all for her steadfast championing of relationship based social work throughout her long and distinguished professional life.
Harry Ferguson in his introduction to her Memoirs (2013) describes her as the leading academic of her generation, and indeed she was so, as well as being a weighty figure for the next. But perhaps this doesn’t quite convey what a gift she had for communicating ideas. She spoke, often with specific every day examples, in a way which was readily understood by her audience (whether professional or lay)
‘I believe that social workers have a moral duty to try to understand, and thus to alleviate, sources of stress and dysfunction – and plain human misery. Much of this, of course lies in the world outside the individual. We hear a good deal about social exclusion and its effects on individuals and communities. However, it is not often acknowledged that part of this exclusion, in which social class is all too relevant, is exclusion from being heard and seen as an individual who needs attention to be paid to the feelings which are woven into the fabric of their daily lives. This is what I hope the Centre for Social Work Practice can attend to.’
(Olive Stevenson at the original launch of the Centre for Social Work Practice April 2006)
In order to honour and recognise Olive’s significant contribution as a founder, Chair and subsequently a patron of the Centre for Social Work Practice, the Centre will be awarding an essay prize of £300 in Olive’s memory.
The essay should be based on a piece of practice which embodies and reflects the objects of the Centre, that is, the promotion of relationship based social work as central to social work practice today.
The essay should not exceed 3,000 words excluding references. Harvard referencing should be used. Applicants should be registered social workers or student social workers, or the equivalent in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland. The essay should include some theoretical exploration, be based on a piece of practice and the content should be anonymised. It must not have been published already and the winning essay will be placed on the Centre website and be promoted through the Centre and Centre events.
The essay should be submitted electronically with a covering application and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 7th 2017.
The winning essay will be announced at the Centre AGM on 19th May 2017.
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