International Work

The Centre's international work has been a significant part of its overall training, research and project development activity, over more than thrity years. Our works has spanned three continents in Eastern Europe (Central Asia and Former Soviet Republics, for example in Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and the Far Eastern states of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan) North and South America and South Africa.

Social Action is a philosophy and process that seeks to involve those who are excluded, marginalised and powerless in the delivery of new services and the achievement of collectively agreed goals. Examples of circumstances where this needs to happen can be found as frequently outside the UK as within.

Engaging with people from different countries and cultures has deepened our understanding of how other people view participatory work and the social justice philosophy underpinning Social Action and this in its turn has influenced our practice and vocabulary.

We have been challenged and inspired by our work with practitioners and policy makers in other countries and impressed by their ingenuity in applying the social action process to their own society and circumstances, often with very few resources.

Recent international work

Support to the Delivery of Effective and Sustainable Social Assistance Services in Moldova

Contracted by OPM to work as consultant on the DfID/SIDA funded project to offer advice, consultancy and training on the role, training and support needs of newly appointed community social assistants.

Jennie Fleming and Hellmuth Weich have been engaged as international experts on the Social Services strand of the ‘Support to the Delivery of Effective and Sustainable Social Assistance Services in Moldova’, DFID/SIDA funded project aimed at supporting the development of the newly created post of Community Social Assistant.

We provided consultancy for the development of job descriptions for the social assistants, ensured service user involvement, and contributed to the development of primary social care legalisation adopted by the Government of Moldova in Dec 2008. We developed a participative training strategy and curriculum for training that is being rolled out nationally.

CSAs work on participation and community development is a central to the curriculum and materials written by Fleming and Weich for inclusion in manuals produced by the Moldovan Ministry of Social Protection Family and Child.

By the end of 2010 almost 1000 social assistants and their supervisors had received training based on the curriculum and manuals. This work has had an impact on the 800 community social assistants and hence an estimated 170 000 beneficiaries of their services.

CSA links with the Universidad de los Lagos and the Universidad de la Frontera, Chile

Thilo Boeck has been working in Chile with the Universidad de los Lagos and the Universidad de la Frontera.

He was invited three times during 2010 and 2012 and gave diverse talks to social work students, seminars to practitioners, academic staff and students and collaborated in developing research proposals.

The work with the two Universities continues around Social Action, social capital and resilience. In Chile there is a need to find practical models to enhance social capital in some of the most isolated rural areas.

He explored with local practitioners and academics participatory models of project development to find local solution with the local communities. With the academic team he explored participatory mixed methods research which has lead to the development of a module within the social work programme on participatory research and evaluation.

Young people’s research in South Africa

Hellmüth Weich and Jennie Fleming worked with a group of five secondary schools in Bloemfontein, South Africa – connecting our themes of young people and research and our international work.

The project is lead by Sarietjie Musgrave, who was a teacher at one of the schools, and now works for the University of the Free State (UFS). Along with staff from the University of the Free State, Hellmüth and Jennie provided training and support to the students who were undertaking the research amongst their peers, in their schools and communities to find out more about vulnerable children and how they are supported within their communities.

We have provided key inputs to support the training in research and to develop the teachers and young people’s understanding of how to undertake a research project. We have done this from the UK via Skype and other internet based platforms and resources.

The schools’ catchment areas have different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and a range of first languages are spoken – Afrikaans, English, Sesotho and IsiXhosa.

Over 150 students took part in the project, called Children who Care, they spoke with young people, teachers and adults in the community. They undertook the analysis and presentation of the findings.

The project used a range of technologies to support the students learning and facilitate communication between Hellmüth and Jennie in England with the teachers and students. This work won the heat in South Africa and came second in the all Africa final for the Microsoft Innovative Teaching Award competition.

For full list of International work undertaken by the CSA – (PDF)

© Centre for Social Action, DMU


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