UWS and Who Cares? Scotland

User involvement in social work education
Published in Case studies on 10 Oct 2018

This is one of seven stories, showcasing what service user and carer (SUAC) involvement in social work education looks like, what makes it work and what benefits it brings. It has a significant role to play in shaping the next generation of practitioners.

SUAC involvement in social work education has been mandatory for 15 years now, so there is a lot of learning to share with others who can learn from this - transferrable to  educators and practitioners working across public services, and relevant to policy-makers committed to mainstreaming person-centred – or person-led – approaches based on real partnership working between those who use and those who deliver services.

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This story illustrates how universities can work with external organisations to ensure that the voices of care experienced young people inform social work education and future generations of practitioners. More broadly, it serves as a model for how universities can reach and involve other under-represented groups.

There are currently 15,000 children in care in Scotland and there is nationwide consensus that their life-chances could and should be better, especially when compared to other children and young people in Scotland.

Who Cares? Scotland – the nation’s only charity dedicated to representing care experienced people – has been recognised as the 2018 UK Charity of the Year, and honoured for its Campaigning & Advocacy work. It’s work has led to an independent review of the Scottish care system.

Working in partnership with UWS, Who Carers? Scotland has been able to:

  • Bring the lived experience of care experienced young people to the classrooms of social work students
  • Provide volunteering opportunities for UWS social work students through their Communities that Care programme
  • Widen access to higher education - by welcoming care experienced young people to the university, celebrating their contributions and breaking down barriers
  • Support a carer experienced young person to take up post as Development Assistant for the Scottish Inter-University Service User and Carers Network. This is funded through the SCVO funded Reaching Higher Programme.