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Brunel MA social work student wins national social work award for best essay

Brunel MA social work student, Natalia Phillips, is one of the three winners in the 2022 national Social Work Union student essay competition.

portrait of Natalia PhillipsThe question set for this year’s competition was: Considering the current negative TV and general media portrayals of social workers, what action can be taken to change this?

Negative portrayals of social workers in the national and international media are of major concern to social workers, especially in Western countries, and are considered a difficulty that is not easy to resolve. Natalia’s essay is well informed by existing research and offers a range of creative and proactive approaches to help social workers develop a strong and coherent professional voice and take charge of the way they are represented by the media. At a time when university-based social work programmes must compete with vocational routes into the profession, Natalia’s essay and her journey on the programme exemplify the benefits of the university route into the profession in helping social work students to develop a coherent and confident professional voice.

During her two years on our programme, Natalia produced a series of publications: some were set as assignments on her modules and others developed due to her interest and passion as an emerging scholar. Natalia started by publishing a review of the book Introducing Social Work. This was followed by a review of the book, Social Work, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Following this and her own experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, Natalia published a thought-provoking opinion piece in the Social Workers Professional Magazine calling for social workers to adopt a more collectivist approach to the profession.

A blog post for the Applied Sociology weblog of the British Sociological Association followed next. It dealt with the difficult reality faced by LGBT people in Poland, Natalia’s country of origin. In another article for the Professional Social Work Magazine, Natalia examines the impact of the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Polish social workers offering support to Ukrainian migrants.

Other publications for the Professional Social Work Magazine focused on loneliness among prisoners and on the mismatch between perceptions of care needs that can exist between clients, social workers, care providers and family. Natalia also co-hosted one of the episodes in our podcast series and has a few more publications currently waiting for print.

Read Natalia’s and the two other winning essays by Arzu Bokhari of Cardiff University and Marissa Bruneau of the University of Dundee. Each of the three winners will receive a prize of £500.