During my time as BASW England Anti-racism Visionary, I was fortunate enough to receive staunch support from my allies, colleagues and peers. As part of my work, I managed to build an extensive and wide-ranging professional network on different platforms. My passion for ‘Anti-racism in Social Work’ prompted me to frequently and sporadically distribute various articles, resources and relevant social work updates with those in my orbit via email. I believed there was a need to spotlight news and developments relevant to social workers and to share useful information and resources. So, I maintained the email distribution list for 2 years and it has now evolved into a weekly newsletter called Wayne’s Weekly (WW).
WW is a newsletter published each Thursday (usually) with the latest social work news and updates including:
💥 Announcements & reports 💥
💥 Articles & blogs 💥
💥 Consultations, petitions & surveys 💥
💥 Events & training 💥
💥 Opportunities & vacancies 💥
💥 Research & resources 💥
In recent months my professional curiosity has increasingly leaned towards exploring the following questions:
💭 What type of social workers subscribe to WW? 💭
💭 What stage of their social work careers are subscribers at? 💭
💭 Which categories of WW are most/least helpful? 💭
💭 Is WW a primary source of social work news for subscribers? 💭
💭 Do subscribers share WW within their own networks/organisations? 💭
💭 Do subscribers have time to read WW? 💭
Based on this, I decided it was important for me to ascertain which areas of WW work well, the areas for development and ultimately whether social workers actually benefit from WW. So, I decided to devise a survey, which had 288 respondents (9.6% of my email network). I’ve now published a report [available here] based on the feedback and findings.
I do not consider myself a social work academic or researcher, but I’m a bit of an ‘unconventional intellectual’ in my own way (geek 🤓), which I honed in the Anti-racism Visionary role and other previous social work roles.
My hopes of writing a short report were foolhardy on reflection! The report comprehensively explores prominent themes and concludes with how I will refine and streamline WW going forward. I present the quantitative data using graphs and pie charts to display numerical information and list a selection of the qualitative feedback in bullet-pointed comments (with the occasional reply from me).
The key outcomes from the survey include:
- WW has a cross-section of subscribers, with particular interest from experienced social workers (27%), managers (18%) and educators (17%).
- Most respondents work primarily in children and families (28%), adult services (23%), mental health (15%) and social work education (14%).
- Most respondents (26%) chose the ‘Research & resources’ section of WW as the most beneficial – closely followed by ‘Articles & blogs’ (23%) and ‘Announcements & reports’ (23%).
- Most respondents (51%) agreed or strongly agreed that WW is their primary source for social work news and updates.
- Most respondents (63%) agreed or strongly agreed they share WW with their colleagues and/or within their organisation.
- Roughly 48% agreed or strongly agreed they always have time to read the sections of WW that interest them.
Some of the general comments from respondents included:
- “I like that you bring together information and widen access to resources that I may not have found myself without a lot of effort – which I don’t have time for. This relates especially to anti-racist stuff that you bring and has helped me massively in making steps to critically check my own practice and acknowledge that racism exists in social work.”
- “[WW has] too many interesting things that I never have time to read it all!”
- “It’s an extremely useful, curated list of materials that matter. It’s useful having the weekly digest as opposed to the daily flurry of emails.”
- “I like [WW’s] immediacy and that it’s led by a person from a Black and ethnic minority group.”
- “So much information, but this is not a dislike – it gives me the opportunity to choose what is most appropriate to share with the workforce.”
- “It raises my awareness of current research and provides good reference points. Also, it reminds me to continue questioning and developing practice and provides access to helpful resources that I use with students, NQSWs and apprentices – as well as sharing with my team and colleagues.”
- “WW is sometimes long, but I pick out the things that I feel are most relevant.”
- “WW is a great succinct newsletter. Real developments since the previous bulletins. Excellent!”
- “I think you are what brings the whole thing together. It’s your commitment to bringing stuff to our attention that keeps me interested. Because I am thinking if Wayne thinks this is good it is worth paying attention.”
- “I like the blogs and hearing the voice of people and their experiences.”
- “The content is almost too good!”
- “WW is a very useful tool which I find helpful as a busy social worker who has very little time to do independent research around practice issues concerning diversity, justice and change.”
- “Truly the greatest training resources available to social workers at the moment. A gift of light in a time of darkness. Thank you for your service🎖️.”
- “The emails and attachments have continued to be current and relevant to social workers and allied professionals, across all disciplines. Wayne’s contact has been particularly important in giving prominence to those working on the front line, supporting others, raising real issues and providing evidence of the challenges facing colleagues (he has remained ‘one of us’ throughout).”
Obviously, it’s nice to receive complimentary feedback from allies, colleagues and peers. It’s certainly a confidence booster. However, the WW survey invited critical appraisal too – which was constructive and helpful. The overall process has confirmed to me that WW is a worthwhile endeavour that is beneficial for social workers (and allied professionals) in my network – which is the main objective. Also, the survey has helped me to gain a clearer perspective of what is working well and less so in WW.
My only regrets with the survey are that I wish I had included a question about geographical location to ascertain where my subscribers study/work. Also, I should have asked if respondents are BASW members or not. Perhaps next time…
Due to the resounding feedback on the length of WW, I’ve made some immediate changes. For example, the duration and volume of repeated content (especially articles and blogs) is now reduced. Also, WW is now colour-coded. Featured links are highlighted in yellow, repeated content is highlighted in grey and new content will remain in standard white to make WW easier to decipher. Also, WW is now hosted on LinkedIn for free. To access it you do not need to be registered or logged in.
I maintain WW proactively, it’s not part of my job description. I take pride in providing what I hope is a helpful multifaceted weekly newsletter for busy social work professionals in my network.
The editorial process for compiling WW is based on my perspective as a Black male social worker. Although I aim for the content to be intersectional and relatable, I realise I “cannot please everybody all of the time” – so I just do the best that I can do. On occasions, I’ve had to decline suggested material from people that I feel is too contentious or if it’s material that I cannot share with others confidently due to my lack of knowledge. The content of WW does not necessarily represent my views (or BASW’s) – but my editorial opinion is that what is shared has some value. I will continue with this self-guided approach and retain editorial authority and autonomy.
Back in the day, before I got into social work, my main passion was music and DJing. Most serious DJ’s will be familiar with the term “digging in the crates”, which basically means when a DJ scours through record shops looking for rare vinyl records. This is a concept I’ve applied to WW, in the sense that it requires the subscriber to discover the gems and nuggets of information in the weekly treasure trove! The bold, diverse and unpredictable nature of WW is probably akin to my eclectic DJ sets. Due to my inability to suppress my inner geek (🤓), I’ve found myself creating logos for WW… hence the assortment… The range of logos (and other artwork) reflect my interest in street art and graffiti, which is important for me to incorporate into the WW brand. My inspirations are Goldie and Banksy.
My objective is for WW to become a platform which resonates with the social work zeitgeist and for it to contain items of interest for anyone interested or invested in social work. It is not intended for WW subscribers to read everything. WW is a newsletter for you to personally select areas of interest. Either file, share or discard!
I’m proud to have developed an extensive and wide-ranging network of social workers (and allied professionals) internationally across various platforms. It has been fruitful and reciprocal in terms of collaboration, partnership working and forming professional alliances. I hope to make WW a vehicle for positive change in social work going forward.
I’d like to heartily thank EVERYONE who took part in the WW survey. Please know that all of your responses are deeply appreciated by me.
As always, thanks to all my brothers, sisters, comrades and allies for supporting my work.
“One world, one race… the human race!” ✊🏾✊🏻✊
BASW England Professional Officer & Social Worker
Email – email@example.com
Twitter – @wayne_reid79
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