P A U L S T A P L E T O N
I have worked for over 25 years in social work, as practitioner and senior manager in adult social care, for both local authorities and the voluntary sector. My special interest, over this time has been working with and supporting adults who have severe learning disabilities to lead as independent lifestyles as possible. My work is rooted in the principles of normalization, and over the last decade person centred approaches. I have also acted as a practice educator for social work students for the last 15 years, both here in the UK and abroad. I have undertaken research with local Universities and service users on a range of issues. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Sheffield Hallam University, and take a lead role within the area of practice education.
I chose Pint of beer because …
… as a practitioner, in years gone by, I have listened to, helped and supported many service users over ‘a pint’ in a pub. Having a pint has symbolised normalization, living a valued lifestyle, having something in common with another person or persons, being down to earth, and being on the same level (ant-oppressive practice values). It has provided social interaction, built, and indeed gained trusting relationships (empathy). Having ‘a pint’ has provided an atmosphere to solve problems (task centred practice and indeed strengths-based practice). It resonates with social work.
It can symbolise how we and service users view life, is the glass half full or half empty? Having a pint generates commonality, fun, pleasure, and the simple things in life, which service users, particularly those with severe learning difficulties, so often get little opportunity to enjoy (Valuing People principles).
These days, strict rules about alcohol and drinking at work mean that this way of working (having a pint with a service user) has become frowned upon, and indeed outlawed by organisations. Therefore developing professional and trusting relationships with service users is perhaps now more restrictive; or with a bit of creativity (an orange juice instead?), the glass can become half full.