Journal Article

‘Revisiting Barra’: Changes in the Structure and Delivery of Social Work Services in the Outer Hebrides—Are Rural Tenets Still Alive?

Emilia E. Martinez-Brawley and Ruth McKinlay

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 42, issue 8, pages 1608-1625
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcr164
‘Revisiting Barra’: Changes in the Structure and Delivery of Social Work Services in the Outer Hebrides—Are Rural Tenets Still Alive?

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It is the purpose of this paper to review how the advent of the Scottish parliament and changes in local government departments have affected the way in which social work services are organised and delivered in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. This article describes and assesses in terms of three currently accepted theoretical principles of rural practice, namely generalist interventions, local culture and the nature of rural communities and social relationships, how the current system of organisation is being perceived primarily by providers. The data were collected through field study methods (interviews and focus groups) and are viewed against the background of a similar study in 1986 that focused on services in one ‘patch’ of the islands. The authors conclude that broad-based services responsive to the local milieu still appear to make sense in the remote island and in other rural and small-town settings. The authors observed that, given the many structural changes that have taken place in the past twenty years, there is a form of ‘reorganisation fatigue’ among service providers. Decision makers should bear in mind that this fatigue is likely to affect social services settings beyond the Outer Hebrides.

Keywords: Outer Hebrides; social work Scotland; social work in local government; rural social work; social services; Barra; Gaelic

Journal Article.  6681 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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