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Blog 14 – British Journal of Social Work lived experience issue series

1 March 2023

01 March 2023

This is part of a series of blogs kindly contributed by the editorial group working on the lived experience issue of the British Journal of Social Work (BJSW).

Blog fourteen is by Frank Golding.

The lived experience of trauma such as child sexual abuse is sometimes described as historical. In contemplating how the past continues to shape our present, lived experience is also living experience. Despite well-meaning advice to ‘get over it’, we carry our past inside us as we interpret and re-interpret what it meant and means to be isolated and powerless.

Many of us whose lives have been disrupted by trauma relive a time when everything about us was determined by others. We were outsiders in our own lives. All too often research about us was done by others appropriating our records, our testimony, and our stories. All too often the commentaries and reflections about our experiences were constructed and transmitted by others.

The forthcoming Special Issue of the BJSW will further help disrupt that paradigm. It has provided people with lived and living experience opportunity to express their experiences in their own words, and through their own creative expressions.

Contributors have told us they have found the opportunity challenging but rewarding, even exhilarating or liberating. Before now, some have never seen their own work in published form. Will it be the start of something new and wonderful for them?

Other people regret they missed out, mostly because they heard about the Special Issue too late. They would have loved to ‘give it a go’. But will this be a one-off, never-to-be repeated opening? Or has the Journal discovered a whole new opportunity space that it might try to fill on others occasions? Perhaps not a Special Issue, but featuring such contributions more regularly? Are there other journals, other outlets, other publishers that might ‘give it a go’?

How will Journal readers respond to the diverse contributions? Will they see what it means intrinsically to the contributors? Will they value the initiative extrinsically too for what it means for the social work profession to encounter voices unheard in this space in the past?