Vince Peart – The Truth About Social Work – Book Review

This is part of a three post blog, other parts are here:

The truth about social work is a book that Vince Peart authored under the name of Social Work Tutor. I was just going to talk about the book with regards to the events surrounding it, and then mention the reviews for it on Amazon. I felt that wasn’t right so I bought a copy and read it myself.

Social Work Tutor was a pseudonym that Vince Peart used to author a page on Facebook and write a blog. He then decided to write a book and crowdfunded to write the book.

He managed to raise £17,685 to write the book, here is the crowdfunding page:

This is what the money was for

The main challenge to doing this project well would be if I had to balance it with my current full-time job as a Social Worker. I already use most of my free time running my Facebook page, writing articles and campaigning for our profession; having to fit in writing a book on top of this would be impossible. It’s for this reason that I need to be able to sell enough books (as well as mugs, t shirts and other extras for those who can give a little more) to cover the travel and other expenses incurred over the six months this book will take to complete. But don’t worry… as soon as the book’s done I’ll be back on the frontline alongside all of you!

So for him to give up work and go around and interview people. At this point Vince had only been a social worker for three years.

The book was meant to be called Stand up for Social Work, I guess he decided on a name change.

Here is what Vince says we can expect

Stand up for Social Work will help us tell the stories from those of us on the frontline of practice, the tales that are so often lost.

We will hear from Adult’s Workers, Children’s Workers, Mental Health Workers, Youth Justice Workers, Drug and Alcohol Workers, Palliative Carers and Disability Teams (as well as many other areas of practice).

We will read of the work our support staff do and how our multi-agency colleagues work alongside us to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are protected from harm.

Those who we work for will be able to tell their side of the story and we will get their account of how our work helped improve their lives, what we do well and how we can work better.

That does not sound like the book i’ve just read.

So onto the book..

The hardcopy itself is not great, it’s printed by Amazon and is rough around the edges, actually doesn’t bother me as i’m more interested in content than whether the book looks pretty.

The introduction is incredible self indulgent and I was rolling my eyes throughout.

Then the book tackles a different story per chapter.

The first chapter is regarding two social workers who have decided to become stand up comics, telling social work jokes, they focus on parties for social workers, so things like Christmas parties, things like that where their audience will be social workers, a bit about their history but nothing major.

Chapter Four confused me greatly and had me checking out Vince’s Linkedin, Both the introduction and Chapters one to three is written by Vince, it’s him narrating or talking about himself. So the reader expects that to continue unless told otherwise. Chapter Four has the words “I am a frontline manager of a hospital social work team”. I was utterly confused. For reasons best known to himself he suddenly decided to change things up and put in a chapter written by someone else. That is horrifically bad and i’ve never seen an author do something like that, it’s absurd.

That also wasn’t the only chapter he did that with, the book flits around, there is him promoting his ego and how brilliant he is and how hard he works, there are interviews, and then there are random chapters when it’s someone else talking to the reader, it makes the book unreadable.

Chapter Seven is titled “Before Baby P” it’s seventeen pages of an interview with Sharon Shoesmith, chapter seven is basically her work history, she’s not and has never been a social worker.

Chapter Eight is written by some child protection social worker whose complaining her job has given her mental health problems and almost ended her relationship so she has left social work, that chapter is three pages long.

Chapter Nine is “After Baby P”. twenty eight more pages of his interview with Sharon Shoesmith.

He seriously broke up an interview in his book by inserting a chapter about something else in the middle of the interview, i’ve never seen anything like it, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

There is nothing in the interview with Sharon Shoesmith that is new, it’s the same old stuff, and as i’ve already mentioned, she has never been a social worker. A little under a fifth of the book is taken up with him interviewing Sharon Shoesmith. I have no idea why, my guess is that because she is famous that he felt it would make him look good that he got to interview her. I have no idea.

Then there are things like a bit from a foster carer, a singing social worker, and then yet another social worker who is walking away from social work. There is a chapter about Matt Bee, who now writes for Social Work News alongside Vince, Matt is complaining about, well everything. I will at some point write a blog post about Social Work News in general, encompassing all of the writers and not just Vince.

There is more rubbish and self promotion by Vince

Chapter Seventeen I thoroughly enjoyed, it was about someone called Jonny, who’d been in care as a child and is now a social worker, it was fascinating and a good read.

Chapter Eighteen is someone whining about being a social worker.

Chapter Nineteen is Natasha’s Story

I am angry regarding Natasha’s story, really angry..

Natasha was a service user who was the victim of Domestic Violence. She had two children with her partner and he would harm her, she would call the police who would put him in the cells and then he’d return back to the family home the next morning. There was a pattern of this happening regularly.

Eventually Social Services became involved, a knock at the door and it went from there.

In a lot of cases of domestic violence (DV) it is partner violence only and the child or children are not physically harmed. This leads the victim to believe that the DV is not affecting the children. The truth is that the emotional harm of witnessing DV on children is huge, it is incredibly harmful.

Social Workers show up when there is DV and they are concerned solely with preventing any more harm to the children. How DV is handled when children are involved appears to follow a set procedure. They tell the victim to remove the perpetrator from their home and their lives. The victim then has to attend courses, one of them is the freedom programme which helps the victim break free from the cycle of abuse and protect her children by getting the perpetrator out of her life physically and emotionally.

The perpetrator is not allowed in the family home and around the children, the victim has to show that they are protecting their children. There aren’t any second chances, if social services find out there has been contact with the perpetrator then court action to protect the children starts and the children are usually placed in care.

Not an easy thing for someone to do, especially if they have been brainwashed by the perpetrator, but it absolutely must be done to protect the children.

This is what happened to Natasha. Social Services told her she must not have any contact with her partner and that he must not be allowed in the home. She didn’t follow that and was found out. There was a court date and her partner went, her children were removed from her care a few hours later.

I have a lot of sympathy for Natasha, it was not her fault that she was a victim of DV, he had also totally destroyed her emotional health and she basically thought whatever he told her to think.

So she moves away from him and is having contact with her children, he calls her, then visits her, it ends up with her getting pregnant. Baby is born and she is placed in a mother and baby foster placement which she doesn’t like. She ends up making a suicide attempt and baby is taken off her.

It is an incredibly heart breaking story and she has my sympathy, but the children did need to be protected.

Then there is a court hearing regarding the baby, Natasha runs out of the courtroom in tears because her ex is there. Straight into the arms of a security guard.

This is a direct quote from the book:

Then something happened next that nobody could have predicted. No social worker had planned this intervention, no professional had prescribed this treatment and not even Natasha herself had envisaged this outcome.

She fell in love

She went back to the court the next day and gave the security guard her number and they have been together ever since.

Vince acts like this is a great thing.

I’m not a social worker but I know that coming straight out of a DV relationship and right into another relationship is not recommended. To have a child protection social worker gushing about how awesome it is that she did that is incredibly troubling.

They were together and then she got pregnant, social services got involved because of previous history but they were allowed to parent the baby and were well supported by social workers. At the time of the interview her contact with her other three children was increasing and it was looking likely she would get unsupervised contact so a very positive outcome.

It concerns me greatly that Vince Peart is promoting Natasha moving onto a new partner so quickly as a positive thing. While it appears that it worked out well for Natasha, at least at the time the book was written, it is a terrible thing to promote a new partner so soon after DV and having your children removed from your care. It is much better for the victim of DV to undertake courses and get strong without rushing into another relationship. That Vince has published this with no comment regarding her rushing into another relationship is problematic.

There is also an undertone of misogyny in the way he writes Natasha’s story. That she was nothing when she was single, but then was suddenly saved by a man who made everything better, makes me incredibly angry.

He ends that chapter with:

I leave Natasha safe in the knowledge that she’s no longer fighting her battles alone.

I personally would have liked to see her empowered to be able to fight her battles alone, it would have been nice of Vince had referenced something like that about Natasha. He didn’t, her life sucked and then she fell in love and was saved is the gist of that whole chapter.

I found that angle on Natasha’s story absolutely revolting coming from a child protection social worker.

The last chapter is about how rubbish being a social worker is, how social workers have killed themselves, he describes an incredibly gruesome suicide by a social worker because her mental health was so affected by her job. It’s just Vince making being a social worker seem like the worst thing in the world

To sum up, it is a truly terrible book.

It’s self indulgent, it was written because Vince Peart is seeking fame. He raised over £17,000 to fund the book, primarily so he could take a break from work while writing the book. A fifth of the book is taken up by one interview which consists of information that can be found elsewhere, Sharon Shoesmith has been interviewed many times by many different people, she’s also written her own book.

There is little in the book that is of interest to anyone who has an interest in social work. Not to mention that Natasha’s story gives the view that all a woman needs is a man to save her.

It is basically a book on how being a social worker is the worst job in the world and that Vince is a hero for doing it. It is an incredibly depressing read and social work does not come out of it looking good. If I was thinking of becoming a social worker and read this book, i’d be choosing a different profession.

I paid £5.99 for the paperback copy of the book, which is a lot of money. If any reader of this blog post feels bad that I wasted my money, then donations of the amount I paid for the book would be great at the following link:

Not much left to say about the book except he raised the money by stating the book would be something it is not. It was promoted as going to be full of stories from many different social workers practicing in different areas of social work and it ended up being solely child protection social workers and adult social workers.

I have no idea what he spent those 6 months doing when he wasn’t working and living off the kickstarter funds, it’s definitely not 6 months worth of interviews, it’s just a handful and some of the chapters are written by other people. If i’d donated to the Kickstarter i’d want my money back