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The Meaningful Involvement of Service Users in Social Work Education: Examples from Belgium and The Netherlands

Driessens, K and McLaughlin, H and van Doorn, L (2016) The Meaningful Involvement of Service Users in Social Work Education: Examples from Belgium and The Netherlands. Social Work Education, 35 (7). pp. 739-751. ISSN 0261-5479


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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This article links the development of service user involvement championed in the United Kingdom to two examples in Dutch-speaking qualifying social work programmes: one from Belgium and one from the Netherlands. In both projects, a longer lasting cooperation with more marginalised service users was established. The Belgium project highlights social work lecturers and service users living in poverty, working in tandem to deliver a module to social work and socio-educational care work students. The example from the Netherlands involves young people from a homeless shelter as peer-researchers, working together with social work students. Both projects, one focusing on social work education and on social work research, highlight striking similarities in the positives and challenges of working with service users including how this challenges both groups preconceptions of the other, deepens learning but also creates greater potential for confrontations which need to be managed creatively. The article also identifies the pre-requisites for this to be effective including appropriate resourcing, training, facilitative skills and acknowledges that collaborations can be extremely fragile. However, such projects need further investment, experimentation and implementation on an international scale to share learning and promote creative approaches for the development and learning of social work students.

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