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People :: Alumni :: Susan Hunter


Susan Hunter

Diploma in Social Administration 1972 & CQSW 1973

Graduated: 1973

Why Edinburgh? My reasons for coming to Scotland to train were personal. My reasons for choosing Edinburgh were based on its academic reputation and the depth and range of its practice placement options that ran concurrently with academic teaching.

What did you do on the course? When l trained the department was in transition  from offering distinct qualification in psychiatric, medical and child care social work to a generic qualification in line with the introduction in practice of generic social work departments in the public services. These were heady days for the social work profession and for social work training encouraging experimentation and innovation in practice. l thought l was very privileged to benefit from specialist knowledge being reshaped to support practice developments in generic departments.

Placements were local authority and Child and Family Psychiatry. l think l did an observation placement  in adult psychiatry. l was exempted from the residential/day care placement because l had worked in a therapeutic community for children and young people before coming on the course.

What did you do next? l came to training with the expectation of finding my niche in community work or 'radical social work', so called. l still have copies of the magazine Case Con which ploughed a strong furrow in in social, and political analysis of individual problems. To my surprise , whilst on placement, l discovered a leaning for detailed individual and family social work. l spent my early post-qualifying years in child and family psychiatry and in a large children's charity both as a practitioner, practice teacher and manager.

I then became a Lecturer in Social Work at Edinburgh...

What do you think about social work education for future? l think social  work practice, like contemporary society, is in 'crisis'. By this l mean practice and education for practice face dangers and opportunities. There are threats to professional identity in the current upsurge of managerialism particularly in the public sector and to the integrity of the service that can be provided in an era of austerity and in the apparent erosion of public and political support from disadvantaged groups within society.

That said, this state of flux creates opportunities to 're-imagine' social work practice particularly through collaboration and co-production with people who use services. This seems to me to offer the best way forward for ensuring that the voice of people at risk of not being heard, is taken into account. My experience of teaching generations of social work students gives me confidence that there are people constantly coming into the profession with the imagination, still and commitment to do exactly this.

Source: Own contribution.