Journal Article

Walks, Home Visits and Atmospheres: Risk and the Everyday Practices and Mobilities of Social Work and Child Protection

Harry Ferguson

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 4, pages 1100-1117
Published in print June 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq015
Walks, Home Visits and Atmospheres: Risk and the Everyday Practices and Mobilities of Social Work and Child Protection

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Research into social work practice and inquiries into cases in which practitioners are deemed to have failed to protect children and vulnerable adults are predominantly focused on examining and changing organisational systems and inter-professional communication. This leaves largely unaddressed practitioners' experiences of the work they have to do that goes on beyond the office, on the street and in doing the home visit. In providing such an analysis, the paper argues that we need to think about social work in terms of the walks and other bodily movements that are required on the streets and in the homes of service users and evoke the adventures and atmospheres that deeply influence how the work is carried out. The paper draws theoretically on the new ‘mobilities’ approach and on my research into social workers' experiences of doing the work, past and present. Analysis of the mobile, lived experience of practice enables deeper understandings of risk to emerge—what I call practice risks—which concern whether professionals meet the requirements of good practice by looking around homes, walking towards children to properly see, touch, hear and walk with them to ensure they are fully engaged with and safe, here and now, on this home visit, or in this clinic or hospital ward.

Keywords: Risk; home visit; child protection; adventure; mobilities; social work

Journal Article.  8074 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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