School of Education and Social Work

Department of Social Work and Social Care

Welcome to the Department of Social Work and Social Care

Social work at Sussex is currently ranked 5th in the UK by The Guardian University Guide 2018. 

Social work is a rapidly changing profession and here at Sussex we are at the forefront of innovation and development. We offer attractive opportunities in a department noted for its strength in professional education and its contribution to professional knowledge and practice.

We are among the leading institutions in the UK for the quality of our research. The Department currently hosts three research centres: The Centre for Innovation and Research in Wellbeing (CIRW), the Centre for Innovation and Research in Social Work (CSWIR), and the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth (CIRCY). We also have a proud tradition of providing rewarding opportunities for study, whether at initial qualifying, post-qualifying or doctoral levels.

We constantly build on our strong track record of interdisciplinarity to develop new approaches to inter-professional learning and research which recognise both the distinctiveness and the interconnected nature of social work as a discipline and a profession.

New team members!

2018 will see a fairly significant expansion in the ranks of the Department of Social Work and Social Care. Two new academics joined the team on 1 January: Rebecca Stephens, full-time Teaching Fellow, and Robert James, part-time Teaching Fellow.

Rebecca is a very experienced social worker who gained her Social Work BA in Australia in 1995 where she worked as a social work practitioner before moving to England in 1999 practising as a social worker in London for a three years. Rebecca subsequently completed an Education MA and a Training, Practice Teaching Award in Social Work and Advanced Award in Social Work which enabled her transition into consultancy work, training and social work education when she worked with a number of HEI’s in England supporting students on practice placements. Rebecca returned to Australia for a few years to work for the Australian Association of Social Work and various consultancy and training contracts - including lecturer roles in three universities - but returned to the UK in 2011. She has worked with us for the past year as a Teaching Fellow on a part-time basis.

Robert previously taught law at Birkbeck College, University of London, having completed his doctoral thesis on the changes in HIV activism in England and its impact on clinical and legal regulation. He qualified as a social worker in the 1990s and worked with adults with substance use problems and later patient advocacy within the NHS before moving into academia. He stills works as a volunteer for a number of local and national HIV organisations and his interests, alongside user involvement in health and social care, include developing case law around the criminalisation of disease transmission in the UK, and the need for more goals from Brighton and Hove Albion!

Tam Cane - currently a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader on the MA and BA Social Work programmes at the University of Greenwich - will join the Department as a Lecturer in May when she will take over as Course Leader for the Social Work BA.

Tam has a wealth of experience working with children and families, and is a qualified social worker having worked for Hampshire and Surrey County Councils. She teaches across BA and postgraduate programmes, including doctoral supervision. Her teaching expertise is around values and ethics, the toxic trio (domestic abuse, mental health, substance misuse), managing risk, and complexity in social work practice. Tam’s research interests are concerned with HIV related infertility and child adoption, domestic abuse and substance misuse. 

More news on new recruits to follow!

If you meet any of our newbies, be sure to say hi and make them feel welcome :)

Talking to vulnerable children on their terms helps to build trust

Polly Cowan has been verbally abused and intimidated with knives. Once, a desperate mother threatened to kill her if she tried to take her child away. "I didn't really believe her." says Cowan, a social worker in Edinburgh. "She was a new mum in a desperate situation; and it is not the case that we want to remove children from their families. Quite the opposite. As social workers, we have to have empathy for families who are in difficulty - often from one generation to the next. They are usually very scared and vulnerable, and the course of action you think is best may not align with what they want for their children."

Cowan took part in Talking and Listening to Children (TLC) - a three-year nationwide study of how social workers communicate with children. Led by academics from the Universities of Sussex, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Queen's Belfast, the research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 

Read the full article.

Hiba Nour"I really want to use my own experience to help others": Hiba Nour talks about coming from Sudan and becoming a Social Worker

“If someone tells me how they feel they don’t need to say a lot because I will just understand without embarrassing them or asking questions.”

Hiba Nour, 37, has just finished three years studying for her social work degree, she came to the UK eight years ago after feeling unsafe in her home country of Sudan.

“I know about oppression and discrimination because in my country as a female you can be discriminated against and oppressed just for being a woman. One of the reasons I wanted to become a social worker is because I have been abused before.”

On leaving Sudan, Hiba says all she knew about social workers was from watching films where children were taken away from their parents. However after becoming homeless when she arrived in England and coming across social workers herself, Hiba became inspired by their work. She says: “I got some help when I first arrived here in England. I met with some social workers and I started to understand their work was not about snatching children, it was about advocating on behalf of families in need and referring them to services that would be helpful so they could actually stay together. Until then I had no idea social workers could make such positive changes to people’s lives.”

Read the full piece.