Introducing social work: a starter kit
Introducing social work: a starter kit

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing social work: a starter kit

2.1 Approaches for social work practice

To assist in tackling social inclusion, social workers need to demonstrate ‘cultural competence’ about the individuals and communities with whom they work. In the case of exclusion brought about and reinforced by poverty, for example, this would involve listening carefully to the accounts of service users themselves and appreciating the subtlety of the impact of the various forces that led them to be and to remain in poverty. This knowledge can help in the development of services that are more nuanced and a better fit for specific individuals and groups. Social workers need to bring an awareness of poverty to the heart of their relationship with service users, including ‘tackling micro aggressions […] using active mediation and advocacy’ (Krumer-Nevo, 2015, p. 1796).

Poverty leads to the deprivation of certain capabilities, which can vary from the fulfilment of basic physical needs such as nourishment and shelter, to ‘more complex social achievements such as taking part in the life of the community, being able to appear in public without shame’ (Sen, 1995, p. 15, in Gupta, 2017, p. 459). It is important therefore for social workers when assessing the potential and capabilities of service users to develop fulfilling levels of independence, to carefully incorporate an understanding of the impact of poverty on their lives, showing solidarity with service users and working in partnership to support their struggle against poverty and to address the exclusion that poverty can cause.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371