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“Isn't it funny the children that are further away we don't think about as much?”: Using GPS to explore the mobilities and geographies of social work and child protection practice

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • T. Disney
  • L. Warwick
  • H. Ferguson
  • J. Leigh
  • T.S. Cooner
  • L. Beddoe
  • P. Jones
  • T. Osborne
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/05/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Children and Youth Services Review
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)39-49
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/02/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Social work is an inherently mobile and spatial profession; child protection social workers travel to meet families in diverse contexts, such as families’ homes, schools, court and many more. However, rising bureaucracy, managerialism and workloads are all combining to push social workers to complete increasing volumes of work outside their working hours. Such concerns lead to the perception that social workers are increasingly immobilised, finding themselves desk-bound and required to spend much of their working day navigating time-consuming computer systems. This immobilisation of social workers has considerable implications, restricting professionals’ abilities to undertake the face-to-face work required to build relationships with families. However, until now, the actual movements of social workers, and how (lack of) movement affects ability to practice, remain unknown. In this paper we report on innovative research methods using GPS [Global Positioning System] devices that can trace social workers’ mobilities and explore the use of office space, home working and visits to families in two English social work departments. This article presents unique findings that reveal how mobile working is shaping social care practitioner wellbeing and practice. © 2019