Journal Article

Befriending Excluded Families in Tower Hamlets: The Emotional Labour of Family Support Workers in Cases of Child Protection and Family Support

Ben Gray

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 6, pages 990-1007
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn023
Befriending Excluded Families in Tower Hamlets: The Emotional Labour of Family Support Workers in Cases of Child Protection and Family Support

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This paper describes the befriending of severely excluded families, particularly Bangladeshi and Somali families, in Tower Hamlets, East London by Family Support Workers (FSWs). Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK. The study is derived from an evaluation of the Family Welfare Association's (FWA's) Tower Hamlets Family Support Services (FSSs) conducted by South Bank University. A key finding is that engaging the emotions of families enables high-quality and effective support in the family home. FSWs win trust and elicit narratives from families, particularly from mothers and children. The narratives of families are a rich source of informing better practice. In line with government objectives, the participatory work of FSWs helps to balance understanding on family support, health and child protection. The early identification of child protection issues is particularly important in mitigating their worst effects. FSWs gain trust and early disclosure on child protection cases. This prevents child-care problems from deteriorating into child protection issues. FSWs also act as informal advocates and help to balance social service assessments with the views of families. FSWs take a proactive, non-stigmatizing, non-intrusive approach to families. FSWs are sensitive and responsive to the emotions, ethnicity, gender and specific needs of families.

Keywords: Befriending; emotional labour; family support; child protection

Journal Article.  7019 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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