Rural Social Work in Cumbria – new study

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to Jane Pye, Harris Kaloudis and Matthew Devlin, on publication of their study of Rural Social Work in Cumbria today. It’s findings will resonate with folk in Scotland, and for those who attended the Celebrating Rural Social Work Conference in Dumfries, just before lock down, you will have had the opportunity to hear Jane speak about their findings.

This study aimed to reveal the challenges and associated innovative practice by social workers in rural and isolated communities, families and individuals in Cumbria. Through focus groups and interviews with practising social workers within Cumbria, the study found that social workers experienced both challenges and opportunities created by their work in rural areas. These are as a result of the extensive travel required for their role, the lack of service provision in rural and remote areas, working within small communities and working within dispersed teams. The findings also indicate that a sense of connection to place and to their role as a social worker is very important to social workers working rurally. 

The study also drew 14 specific suggestions for policy and practice development from this information which are grouped into three themes. Firstly, the importance of recruiting and retaining a rural workforce. Secondly, support to manage the travel requirements of the rural social work role and finally, the importance of enabling autonomous working whilst ensuring appropriate levels of support.

Project information and links to the report and summary are available from The Centre for Child and Family Justice Research website.

For more details contact Jane Pye

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