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


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

Finding Hope in a Dark Place – stories of innovation and activism – reigniting the fire in our bellies (GAPS National Conference)


Friday 3rd November 2023


Birmingham and online via Zoom


9.30am - 4.30pm


Free - £28


Siobhan Maclean, Tim Fisher, Rich Devine.

We warmly invite you to join us at our national conference where we will welcome three excellent keynote speakers to respond to our conference theme.

The GAPS National Conference is a hybrid event, both online and in person in Birmingham. However you choose to join us, there will be opportunities to connect in small facilitated discussion groups to reflect on and talk about what you have heard. There will be a hot vegetarian lunch for those joining us in person.

The conference is open to Social Work Practitioners, Students and Educators. GAPS members and non-members are welcome. Attending in person is FREE to GAPS members and £28 to non-members. Those paying £28 will receive a year’s free membership of GAPS which includes a hard-copy and online subscription to the Journal of Social Work Practice.  Online attendence is free. 

Helping us connect our conference theme to contemporary research, Professor Chan Hellman (University of Oklahoma) will open the day via a recorded interview.  Chan’s current research is focused on the application of hope theory to predict adaptive behaviours, and hope as a psychological strength that buffers stress and adversity.

Keynote Presentations

The Transformative Power of Hope in Dark Places

– Rich Devine & Tim Fisher

In this keynote speech, Tim and Rich will explore the transformative power of hope in dark places. Through disruptive methods, relational approaches, and storytelling, Tim and Rich will showcase how we can all make a meaningful difference, empowering children and adults. By valuing lived experiences and embracing relational risk-taking, we can inspire change and work collaboratively within a Local Authority context. Join us for this inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speech exploring pathways and avenues that generate change, foster authentic connections, and cultivate hope.

Rich Devine

Rich Devine
about Rich...

Rich is Consultant Social Worker, with over 12 years’ experience working with children and families in a child protection context.

He has a Masters in Attachment Studies from Roehampton University, London (2018) and is currently a Visiting Researcher at Cambridge University, undertaking a piece qualitative research examining ethical dilemmas in child protection with Dr Robbie Dusckinsky and Sarah Foster. He writes one of the UK’s most popular social work blogs, exploring topics such direct work with children, assessment and relationship based practice.

In 2022, he co-facilitated a series of webinars on codesign and co-production with Tim Fisher, and undertook research on parental advocacy with Dr Clive Diaz from Cardiff University (to be published early 2023).

Tim Fisher

Tim Fisher
about Tim...

Tim is one of the UK’s leading experts in facilitation and participatory methods. He has been a social worker for 18 years and a local authority manager for 10 years (currently a service manager with LB Camden). With master’s degree research on empowerment models in social work (MASW distinction from Cardiff University) he has collaborated with organisations on developing family group conferences, peer advocacy and other methods that facilitate parent inclusion. He is currently a Co-Investigator on the 4 year National Institute for Health Family Group Conference research. He has published writing on social work & community approaches, as well as magazine publications including Community Care, the Ecologist and the Stanford Social Innovation Review

Tim is a member of the interdisciplinary group based at Cardiff University the ‘future matters collective’

If This Time

Siobhan Maclean will join us virtually to support us in guided reflection around our experiences of the last three and a half years. Social work changed considerably during the pandemic and as we are now recovering, social workers are arguably operating in a situation of permacrisis compounded by a daily battle with lack of resources and the sense of not ‘being enough.’ Siobhan will help us to explore the changes through the use of crisis theory, enabling us to consider the impact of moral injury on relational practice and reflect on what we have learnt that might nurture hope.

Siobhan Maclean

about Siobhan....

Siobhan has been a social worker for 32 years and became a practice educator in 1995. Siobhan has worked independently for a number of years. As an independent her work is varied but includes training, devising practice learning resources and consultancy work. Siobhan still very much enjoys working as a practice educator and currently works with a few students a year in an off site capacity.

In 2004 Siobhan was appointed to the position of Secretary of the International Federation of Social Workers, holding this position for eight years. She still maintains close international links and enjoys working to support practice educators in countries where social work education is in the early stages of development. She recently Co-Directed an IFSW project on ‘new social workers’ which explored the experiences of those in the final year of study and through the first five years in practice.

Siobhan has written widely, mostly around social work theory and critical reflection. She is committed to making the knowledge base accessible to busy practitioners and set up Kirwin Maclean Associates as an independent publishing organisation based on the values and ethics of social work.

Siobhan recently moved to Northern Ireland where she has enjoyed taking on the practice teacher role. Moving contexts and getting used to a different set of standards and paperwork has reminded Siobhan just what it feels like to be new to the practice teaching role!

Siobhan is a Visiting Professor at the University of Chester.

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New voices for GAPS workshops

GAPS is excited to announce that we are looking to bring in new voices to deliver workshops and seminars over the coming year