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Extern reveal - Northern Ireland's first virtual Social Work Book Project

  • 12 Sep 2017

Social Workers in the voluntary sector across Northern Ireland are being invited to contribute to a new publication which is the first of its kind here.

Extern, the social justice charity, supported by the Department of Health, has created a new virtual book project which is being written by leading Social Workers for Social Workers.

More than 37,500 people are registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council to work in the social care field, including more than 6040 registered social workers, and some 460 students,

Known as, or the Virtual Social Work Book Project, the new open access publication means experienced and leading Social Work practitioners in the Voluntary Sector can share their experiences, creative practice, and learnings with colleagues across Northern Ireland and beyond.

Changing the narrative about social work Extern is the lead co-ordinator of social work education within the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.

The charity hopes the new peer reviewed publication will allow social workers, and those in the wider social care field, to find out what has worked well for colleagues in Northern Ireland, and, importantly, what hasn't. It also aims to encourage workers to adopt elements of various approaches in their day-to-day practice, and play a part in identifying gaps in services which will help inform vital new service provision.

Submission process An initial 12 chapters will be published on Mentoring and online guidance will be available to support the authors, and the publication has an Editorial Board made up of experienced representatives from across the educational, statutory and voluntary sectors.

Those interested in the project can attend an information session from 1pm to 2pm on Wednesday, 27 September at Extern, McKinney Road, Mallusk or contact Kate Harrison at Extern on 028 90 840555.

Department of Health

Announcing details of the new publication, Christine Smyth, Strategy Director (Social Work), Department of Health, said: "One of the key aims of the Department of Health's current Improving and Safeguarding Social Wellbeing Strategy is to ensure that the social work profession remains at the forefront of addressing new and emerging issues in our society. Extern's new Vbook will play an important role in enabling that to happen, allowing a valuable mix of current issues-based on-the-ground learnings, and new models, to be openly available to everyone working in the sector here."

Charlie Mack, Extern CEO, added: "The creation of is good news not just for those who work in the voluntary sector, but also for the many thousands of vulnerable people we support every day. This will make the valuable experiences of some of the most knowledgeable Social Workers here openly available to their peers. We also hope will help inform more people about the true extent of the fantastic work undertaken by Social Workers in the voluntary sector."

Learning and Development Hub launched The announcement took place at the launch of Extern's new Learning and Development Hub at its Mallusk-based headquarters. The new Hub means Extern's 450 staff now have access to dedicated meeting and breakout spaces for their training, hot-desking facilities, an on-site library stocked with over 900 volumes, and associate membership of Queen's University Belfast's library. The Hub is also available for booking by other organisations in the voluntary and statutory sector.

Charlie Mack, CEO of Extern, added: "The opening of our new Learning and Development Hub also ensures that Externs clients, and social work students, can be assured that they are being supported and trained by staff who have access to some of the best learning and development opportunities within the voluntary sector."

Further information is available online at


Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Communications Manager, Extern. Tel: 0773 99 77 095 or email