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New podcast episode: Conversations from across the garden wall, the world and the end of life – Social work and loneliness

12 June 2024

How can social workers help people who are experiencing loneliness?

This week is Loneliness Awareness week, so our next Care to Chat episode is a worthwhile listen. This year’s theme, ‘Random Acts of Connection’, encourages everyone to increase simple, everyday moments of connection which can help us build relationships with others and feel happier and less lonely. Loneliness is a significant problem in our communities and often arises from complex and multifaceted issues linked to mental and physical ill- health, discrimination, inequality and exclusion. So, how can social workers help people who are experiencing loneliness?

In our latest podcast Dr Wendy Austin MBE guides a conversation to find out more about why a newly qualified social worker, an early career social worker and a team leader ask the people they support about loneliness.

Jeanine Toner, Team Manager, Northern Ireland Refugee Support Service with Barnardo’s, Steven McMillan, Community Older People’s Team with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Aislinn Delaney, Social Work Lead with the NI Hospice share how they use their skills and relationship centred practice to have important and sometimes difficult conversations about loneliness in very diverse settings working with older people, refugees and people with life-limiting illnesses.

Aislinn Delaney talks about why social work can make a difference to someone who is experiencing loneliness, “As social workers we are uniquely placed to be able to explore and tune in. Any social work student listening to this will think oh for goodness sake stop talking about ‘tuning in’ but it’s so important. We can explore, sometimes just in our minds, that psychological and sociological theories, and our own social work theories, that help us to understand where somebody might be and what they will need. I think that is a really unique thing that social workers bring to the table – that we can understand human behaviour and perhaps what is driving it and that we have the bravery to tackle it…and to say this is what is going on – I think that you are lonely…are you lonely? Let’s talk about that.”

The Social Care Council releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics about social care and social work regulation in Northern Ireland. Download, subscribe and listen to the latest Social Care Council ‘Care to chat?’ podcast episode today here, or by searching ‘Care to chat’ in your podcast player.

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