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We’ve spoken to social workers and readers of Social Work News magazine to find out their thoughts on how social workers can successfully empower families to make positive changes in their lives! 

What advice would you give to somebody new to working with vulnerable families?

“Listen carefully to what is being said; think carefully about what you hear and examine what the individual needs are. Listening and responding is more likely to bring about change than dictating advice; sustainable change happens when trusting relationships are built and where individuals learn from those they can trust.”
Teresa, Worcester

“Approach your intervention as a team worker, and view the family as team members. Do not go in as the one with all the answers; your knowledge will mainly be professional and not about this particular family. Be prepared to listen and ask open-ended questions to enable you to understand the family better.
Diana, Birmingham

“Keep yourself informed and up-to-date. You can only do a good job if you are well equipped with any changes.”
Robina, Knutsford

“Use all of your senses to assess – eyes, ears and nose! Be inquisitive when asking questions and provide practical solutions.”
Hazel, Liverpool

“Think of goals which enable the family to get to where they want to be, and be as transparent as possible”
Viv, London

“Keep an open mind, avoid stereotypes and over-generalisation. Work hard to improve and enable, not to maintain and sustain.”
Nahid, London

What specific tools do you have available to empower families?

“Each family is unique and different, so the best intervention relies on tailoring a plan that suits each family, ensuring that you not only have their agreement to embark on change but that trust is a given. Individuals and families who have already managed this transition can be one of the best resources to use in supporting new families but supervision is critical. New workers should be encouraged to work alongside those with more experience.”
Jolyon, Cardigan

“Money and hands-on practical support is required, then counselling for the individuals to learn how to take responsibility for their decision making.”
Hazel, Liverpool

“Carer Consultation model to support carers in meeting the holistic needs of vulnerable children, Protective Behaviours process to teach personal safety and emotional intelligence to children and young people and their families, carers and anyone working with them, face-to-face training in a variety of knowledge and skills re emotional intelligence and behaviour support, Theraplay tools, Webster Stratton intervention skills, direct work using role play, drama, art, music and photography etc.” 
Teresa, Worcester

Would you like to share your advice with peers?

We are always looking for social workers to contribute towards our ‘as recommended by you…’ features. If you would like to share your thoughts and opinions, please get in touch with us by emailing us

If you would like to read more about recommendations from your peers, don’t forget to read part two of our ‘as recommended by you’ article, or you can find out what our readers’ best ever advice was as well as their preferred practice models.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Social Work News!

If you've found this article useful, then why not take a look at the latest edition of Social Work News? If you would like to receive a digital copy straight into your inbox as soon as it becomes available, don’t forget to subscribe!
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