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Blog 16 – British Journal of Social Work lived experience issue series

18 April 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 sixteen is by Ulla-Karin Schön is Professor in social work at Stockholm University in Sweden.

In this last blog within the framework of putting together the BJSW special issue on Voice and Influence of people with lived experience, I take my starting point in Mel’s previous blog on how the journey has only begun to reach the destination of inclusive spaces, where lived experience expertise is valued.

There is certainly a long way to go still, until experiential expertise is unmuted and recognized as inalienable in social work practice and knowledge development. However, the BJSW special issue may be considered as one completed stage on that journey. We can make a temporary stop on the journey to “refill” and appreciate the road gains made facing the launch and publication of extensive experiential knowledge in a range of areas in social work. To do that a lot of people have contributed in the journey.

The vital contribution lies of course with all those who, based on their experience and expertise, have contributed with reflection papers, art pieces and with scientific articles, without which this special issue would not have been possible. Alongside that, there are people who should be acknowledged; Mel Hughes who initially took the initiative for the special issue and has coordinated the work, Reima Maglajlic, editor at BJSW who believed in the idea and made it possible and who has also launched innovative ways to disseminate the knowledge. And my fellow guest editors Peter Beresford, Frank Golding, Mel Huges, Lia Levin, Omar Mohamed and Peter Unwin.  Getting to collaborate with all of you and all the reviewers who did their utmost to review and constructively supervise the contributions has been educative and a true joy.

This collective work, where lived experience forms the foundation, may be seen as a soon-to-be-ended collaboration. Yet, it can also be seen as a commencement for the next step on the journey influencing more journals to follow in the trodden footsteps of BJSW and for the research community to value experiential expertise in research through democratic co-production.

The journey may be long, but together we can make sure it is going forward. Onwards.

Ulla-Karin Schön is Professor in social work at Stockholm University in Sweden.