Welcome to Social Work in Disasters online training. This training is designed to provide social workers/social work students with an overview of social work in disasters. It is underpinned by a systematic literature review of research and literature in this area, and the work of the British Association of Social Workers Disaster Working Group.
The focus of the training is on the UK, and in particular England. This is reflected in the references to legislation in particular. This does not mean that the training does not have value for social workers working outside of England (and indeed international research and examples are drawn on frequently), but it does mean that social workers outside of England undertaking this training need to be aware that some of the points will not be related to their own jurisdiction and specific context.
Information about the training
This training has been designed for social workers to work through individually, and is separated into four modules.
You will also be asked:
- to engage outside these materials with your local context, and are encouraged to share your work and progress with your manager/supervisor/colleagues.
- to undertake some preparatory work for each module, and to undertake some follow up tasks related to the content and developing your skills as a disaster-informed social worker.
Total time for each Module, including preparation, should be approximately 3 to 4 hours.
The follow up tasks could take longer, and should encourage you to work as a disaster-informed social worker going forward.
Module 1: Introduction to Social Work in Disasters
Module 2: Law, policy and best practice
Module 3: Person centred and research informed practice within a multi-agency approach
Module 4: Responding, using theory and self-care
Each module is based on three learning outcomes that will be outlined at the start of the module.
Before undertaking each module, be sure to undertake the preparation task listed at the start of the module. Before starting any of the the modules, you are advised to create a specific folder on your computer to save information and documents related to this training. Alternatively, you could use Google Docs or an alternative online storage system. You are encourage to keep all documents and information saved free from confidential information, and when reflecting on examples from your own practice to ensure all names and identifying information are changed.
At the start of each of the four modules you will be asked to undertake some preparation reading. This reading is linked at the start of each module, and also linked below:
Module 1: Pyles, L. (2017) ‘Decolonising disaster social work: environmental justice and community participation’.
Module 2: Dominelli, L. (2020) ‘A green social work perspective on social work in the times of Covid-19’.
Module 3: King-Okoye, M. and Underwood, T. (2020) ‘The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities in the UK: An urgent research priority’.
Module 4: Banks et al. (2020) ‘Practicing ethically during Covid-19: Social work challenges and responses’.
There is a workbook that accompanies this training, available below as a PDF and Word document (we recommend using the PDF). You can complete this electronically or print it out to be filled in. Each of the short tasks can be completed in this document, and it can be saved for future reference. The reflections on the follow-up tasks should also be included in this workbook.
Consider partnering up! – If you are able to, consider going through this training with another social worker or social work student. Through this approach, you can share reflections, ideas and challenges. You can also share your workbooks and provide supportive feedback, or work on the follow-up tasks for each module jointly. This is not essential, but it is encouraged if possible.
You can share this workbook with your manager in supervision, or a critical friend who can support you.
Find the downloads below.
Upon completion you will have a completed workbook that can be uploaded as proof/evidence of continuous professional development. If you are a social worker in England, this can also be uploaded as part of your continuing professional development (CPD) evidence as required by Social Work England.
By the end of this training, attendees should be able to:
- Explain the role of the social worker in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
- Explain legislation, policy and procedures that are pertinent to this context.
- Utilise research informed practice in this area, and apply relevant evidence.
- Apply relevant social work theories and models to this context.
Please find an assistive glossary below.
We recommend you bookmark this page to refer back to throughout your training.
- Disaster – There is no universal definition of disaster, but in this training it is generally considered to be the combination of an exposure to a hazard, the conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity to respond. This is covered in much more depth in module 1.
- Emergency – The term used in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 instead of disaster, defined as an event threatening serious damage the human welfare or the environment, or war or terrorism.
- Civil Contingencies Act 2004 – The primary legislation in the UK for responding to emergencies.
- Local Resilience Forums – Multi-agency partnerships for planning emergency response.
- Category 1 Responders – Core responders in an emergency, including local authorities, NHS, Police.
- Category 2 Responders – Co-operating responders in an emergency, including utility companies and transport organisations.
- Humanitarian Assistance Lead Officer (HALO) – Appointed by local authorities to oversee humanitarian assistance efforts as part of the London Resilience Partnership.
- Family Liaison Officer – Police investigator providing information and support to families in the event of a crime or disaster.
- Disaster Capitalism – Taking advantage of a disaster to enact or promote economic policies or advantage in a way that would be unacceptable under normal circumstances.
Download your training workbooks
There is a workbook that accompanies this training, available below as a PDF and Word document. You can complete this electronically or print it out to be filled in. Each of the short tasks can be completed in this document, and it can be saved for future reference.