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Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship based approaches in social work

GAPS-logo

Promoting systemic thinking, and therapeutic and relationship-based approaches in Social Work

Trustees and Staff

Juliet Koprowska

Juliet Koprowska

Chair of GAPS

I qualified as a social worker in 1985 after a first degree in English Literature. I worked for 11 years predominantly in the field of adult mental health, before taking up a post at the University of York where I worked for 23 years, leaving my post as Senior Lecturer in Social Work in 2018.

I was introduced to GAPS while studying for my social work degree and have been a member ever since. My primary interest lies in how relationships are shaped through communication, using the lenses of systems theory, neurobiology, and conversation and discourse analysis. I have many years of training in Agazarian’s Systems-Centered® theory and practice (SCT®), which integrates psychodynamic, attachment and systemic theory. It enables understanding of human systems from the individual through the family, group and team to organisational and political systems, and offers methods for change. I am also part of an international group of social work scholars, DANASWAC (Discourse and Narrative Approaches to Counselling and Social Work), whose members study communication up close. Working with people, not on them, is at the heart if these approaches.

Social work, when resources are scarce and ‘othering’ people is a popular solution to complex individual and societal problems pushes social work into a gate-keeping and policing role. But social workers have the capacity to offer hope, recognition and connection to people who are often at the edges of society and experiencing the sharp end of political change. Maintaining our common humanity with each other and the people we work with is at the heart of social work, reaching across the divide by which systemic and structural forces create and maintain disadvantage and inequality.

SCT® and Systems-Centered® are registered trademarks of the Systems-Centered Training and Research Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Nigel Elliot

Nigel Elliot

Treasurer

I qualified as a social worker and probation officer in 1978 and most of my practice experience has been in probation. I have moved between practice, management, in-service training and education, concluding with a lectureship in social work at Kingston University, from which I retired in 2010.

I am committed to relationship-based practice as the heart of social work. Within probation, I experienced with dismay shifts to an instrumentalist and managerialist practice environment. Through practitioner research and writing, I set out to defend relationship-based practice and chart the shifts in policy, practice and ethics that I witnessed.

With retirement, I wished to remain engaged with social work, which offers so much yet is undermined by de-personalised proceduralism. David Howe says: ‘on the front-line at least, there remains an appetite, hunger even, for more emotionally intelligent, relationship-based practices’. GAPS supports such practices, helps assuage this hunger: long may it flourish.

Liz Reilly

Liz Reilly

Trustee, Secretary

I qualified in Social Work in 1999, and have worked within a range of statutory settings since then, with children, young people, families and carers. I have also had an interest in Social Work education and training, and am now a Senior Lecturer at UWE, Bristol. A key and constant interest has been how best to work with individual or familial change within the enormity of their environment. Moreover I am interested in how curiosity, criticality and ethical rigour can support good practice against personal, systemic and societal pressures.

When I found GAPs , I found a secure place as a practitioner to think, feel, reflect and challenge. I found committed and inspirational thinkers and practitioners. I found affordable and transformative workshops and conferences. I found a wealth of knowledge and encouragement to write. I gained confidence to use the ‘relationship’ more in my practice. I welcome all Social Workers to share our community and to learn and develop with us.

Debra Holt

Debra Holt

Trustee

My Social Work career commenced at the age of 17 years of age when I trained as a youth worker. I then spent several years working as a residential support worker in a various settings before deciding to return to education to study to qualify as a social worker. I qualified in 1989, and have, since then, worked primarily with children and families.

During my social worker career I have gained invaluable skills and experience through the positions I have held. These include working as a Team Manager, Operational Manager, Family Group Co-ordinator, Children’s Guardian, Independent Reviewing Officer and Child Protection Chair. I have experienced many political and bureaucratic upheavals, which I have often found frustrating, unsettling and maddening!! It was this which led me to take the plunge and become self employed and I now work as an Independent Social Worker.

In 2012, I discovered GAPS. Throughout my Social work career, I have felt that I have often been branded as being outspoken by managers for failing to quietly and passively accept policies and practices which I felt were detrimental to social work practice. In GAPS I have found a group of likeminded professionals who share my values and beliefs in Social Work. Through GAPS I have found a voice.

Katharine Scanlan

Katharine Scanlan

Trustee

I qualified as a social worker in 1987 after gaining early experience as a residential social worker. Since qualifying I have been employed in a range of social work settings and roles. In recent years I have contributed to teaching on social work programmes at the University of Lincoln, Middlesex University and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. I have recently completed a Professional Doctorate in Social Work with the Tavistock /UEL. My research involves aspects of end of life care and my approach is informed by psychodynamic and systemic thinking.

I am proud to be a registered social worker, a member of BASW and of the Association of Palliative Care Social Workers as well as a member and trustee of GAP’s. I firmly believe that social work has a central role to play in the integrated care agenda and that social work values and practice are essential throughout our complex world.

I am committed to GAP’s because of the way that it promotes and supports relationship-based practice, offering nourishment and hope to the profession as well as accessibility to those working at the frontline. My vision for GAP’s is it that it will continue to thrive and extend its reach.

Margherita Agrusa

Margherita Agrusa

Trustee

My background is in care with older adults, supporting them in their own homes. I joined gaps in 2018 whilst a social work student in an effort to deepen my interest in psychodynamic approaches and how they could inform my practice. Gaps have not only been a source of knowledge and up to date research (their Journal of Social Work Practice was a regular reference in my assignments!) but has also provided me with a sense of professional belonging and a safe space for reflection. I have recently qualified and am currently working in a domestic abuse charity.

Mike Pickerill

Mike Pickerill

Trustee

I began my social worker career in 2012 studying and then working as a duty child protection social worker in South London. To develop my experience in child protection I moved to a long term child protection team in South Wales where I work, when I relocated to Cardiff.

Social Work is a complex and ever changing area. My interest in working with people through challenging periods of their life sparked my interest in becoming a social worker. Through my journey I believe that supporting people by allowing them space and opportunities to be listened to has allowed them to overcome the difficulties people face and by developing my relationship based practice and using psychodynamic and systemic theory has allowed them to overcome these challenges. I wish to continue to spread the need for these important interventions by working within GAPS.

I have been a trustee at GAPS for five years and it has been an enlightening experience, helping me to focus on my vision, values and reasons for becoming a social worker. As a GAPS trustee, I hope to continue offering the valuable support needed for social workers of all levels and experience by providing open and reflective opportunities for everyone within this demanding area of work. I also hope to spread positive stories and knowledge of social work to ensure we continue to work together as a profession.

Phil Leonard

Phil Leonard

Trustee

I have been a professional social work practitioner since 1983 and have worked mainly with children and families. I have experience in working for local authorities and Cafcass and also as an Independent Social Worker. Since May 2015, I have been working as an Independent Reviewing Officer.

In an ever-changing and increasingly hostile working environment, I have been encouraged and proud to encounter students and newly qualified social workers who show great dedication and value the role of the relationship in social work practice. I believe it is vital to all human services to support and nurture those values.

GAPS has been my secure base as a professional. With its roots in long established therapeutic thinking, such as psychodynamic and systems theories, my aim is to to help it to become a fully independent and co-operative organisation that will continue to educate, support and inspire social workers who want to use the best of themselves to help others.

Suzy Pavey

Suzy Pavey

Trustee

Stephen Marsden

Stephen Marsden

Administrator

I have had a long-term interest in and involvement with psychodynamic and other types of psychotherapy and have worked in finance and administration within the voluntary sector for over twenty years.

Hannah Pepper

Hannah Pepper

Project Co-ordinator

My interest in Social Work was sparked when studying for a degree in Social Policy as a mature student. I became concerned about the ways in which Social Work was portrayed in the media, and how, in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbié, Child Protection might be shaped by the Public Inquiry report’s demands for greater accountability. As I began a Master’s and PhD programme, the story of Baby ‘P’ was unfolding. My thesis looked at the ways in which Social Workers were called to account for their work through data systems, and how these accounts were interpreted remotely by senior management and auditors. I contrasted these with informal accounts practitioners gave each other during informal peer supervision and daily team meetings.

I am really delighted to be working in an organisation which provides opportunities for social workers to connect and discuss their practice away from the confines of the workplace.

Gloria Kirwan

Gloria Kirwan

Trusee, Co-Editor - Journal of Social Work Practice

Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker

Co-Editor - Journal of Social Work Practice

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