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Contradictions of support and self‐help: views from providers of community health and social services to families with young children

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/1994
<mark>Journal</mark>Health & Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)31-40
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Providers of community health and social services to families with young children are aware of increasing poverty in particular localities and amongst particular social groups. They are also aware that their own sphere of influence which they could previously activate on behalf of their clients is diminishing. Community midwives, health visitors, social service workers and workers in voluntary sector organizations in two areas of Greater Manchester were asked about the needs of young children and their carers and their own role in fulfilling some of those needs. They located the difficulties facing their clients in both the structural constraints of poverty and in individual histories and capabilities. In so doing they construct a model of how social welfare is managed personally which has implications for the way in which they understand their own role as providers of health and social services. The study on which this paper is based was concerned with the role of 'social support’ in the lives of families deemed to be ‘in need’, from the perspective of workers. The study shows that while service providers understand and emphasize the value and importance of certain types of support in the lives of their clients, time restrictions and a delimitation of their role lead them, in certain contexts, to devalue their role in providing such support. At the same time, in order to make sense of, and give meaning to, the limits of the support they feel able to provide, they draw on notions of self‐help and dependency arguing that, ideally, people should not rely on formal service provision for their support needs.