Tackling Social Exclusion

Tackling Social Exclusion

Tackling Social Exclusion

Tackling Social Exclusion


The concept of social exclusion is a central focus of government policy and is rapidly moving to the core of practitioner activity. This textbook shows how social workers can combat the social exclusion experienced by service users and at the same time promote social inclusion. Each chapter is grounded in real practice examples and explores through activities, case studies and exercises how the perspective of social exclusion is changing social work today.


[Social exclusion is] a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown. Different people will take the term to mean different things - many see it as another term for multiple deprivation, social disadvantage or poverty. Others prefer to talk about the need positively to promote social inclusion. In broad terms, however, social exclusion is taken to mean more than material lack of income.

(Scottish Office 1998:2)

The idea of social exclusion has become fundamental to everyone working with people in the major public services - health, social services, education, neighbourhood renewal, housing and the police. In a short space of time it has become as widely used as 'poverty' or 'inequality' and indeed has sometimes come to replace the latter. Many innovations in welfare services are now being propelled by this one concept. Reducing social exclusion, whether of specific groups such as young people who have dropped out of school, or lone parents on low income, has become an over-arching goal with wide appeal across the political spectrum.

Yet compared with health services or education, social work has been slower to embrace both the concept and the new approaches that need to be adopted, such as working through broad partnerships, and developing anti-poverty strategies. This has left a partial vacuum which other services and agencies have been quick to exploit, even though tackling social exclusion should come naturally to the social work mission. Matters are now changing, however, as social work begins to realise the possibilities in such work. The aim of this book is to help social workers of all kinds come to grips with the implications and to explain what specifically social workers should do to tackle social exclusion in their practice.

What does tackling social exclusion actually mean for social work practice? The term is now used so widely by government and the media that it is in danger of losing its clarity. Social workers might argue that they are already working with socially excluded people. They might say, 'Aren't adults with mental health problems or child-

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