PowerUs is an international network of teachers and researchers from schools of social work and representatives from different service user organizations. PowerUs develops methods of mutual learning in order to change social work practice to be more effective in supporting the empowerment of marginalized and discriminated groups in society. PowerUs consists of partners from Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, Poland, Austria and Switzerland.
Furthermore, PowerUs has associate contacts with representatives from schools of social work in many other countries around the world. PowerUs promotes policy change, initiates research in collaboration with service users and work with gap mending methods in the education of social workers.
PowerUs has introduced the name gap mending for methods of inclusion that result in a more equal practice. The gap-mending concept is an analytical tool that helps teachers, researchers, students and service users to reflect upon what, in their practices, increases, maintains or mends gaps between policies, services and professionals – and of course – service users and students. Gaps exist in a context. Contextual knowledge is essential in gap-mending reflections, as well as a good understanding of existing gaps. Gaps can be maintained because of prejudices based on social work’s categorization of people, because of language barriers, because of institutional hierarchies and the roles we have created for people within them. They can also exist because of lack of knowledge. Multiple perspectives on different social issues offer a more complex picture. A step in this direction can be the power of narrative when people become a part of writing their own history, and stating what they think should be seen as the problems.
The Powerus Charter
Through the PowerUs Charter we call for the inclusive involvement of diverse communities of service users to inform and influence social work education programmes as equals. Our vision is that social work education should be developed in a partnership between service users, carers, practitioners, managers, academics and students.
Members of Ensact
PowerUs are members of Ensact (European network of social action) – an umbrella organization for six European social work organizations and have agreed to their statements.
Parters in the Eassw Conference in Milan 2015
PowerUs was a partner planning for the EASSW conference in Milan, summer of 2015. You can read more about the conference here: http://www.eassw.org/2015/
The conference was introduced with PowerUs movie “Mend the gap. A challenge in social work education”