• by Siobhan Maclean
  • 20th Oct 2019

Social Work Postcards: Wish you were here?

The students that I work with have found thinking about their placement as a journey enables them to conceptualise their learning and build on this for the future. As a very practical person, I wanted to develop some specific methods that could be used as part of a journey analogy and over the years I have developed a number of ideas – including journey mapping, evaluating journeys, thinking about how to pack your own bags and so on. As I tried ideas with students in supervision and found them effective, I started to talk about the ideas at training and conferences, and the use of postcards was particularly popular. People began to ask me how they could get a set of postcards to use. It struck me that to get the right kind of images and selection takes a while, and sometimes people would buy a number of different packs at a significant cost. So, over the last year, I have been developing a specific set of postcards for social workers. I am delighted that they are now available to buy. The set comes in sturdy packaging which is custom designed to look like a suitcase. This not only represents travelling and the journey but is also a reminder that people are people, never cases. A case is something you pack and drag along behind you on a journey. There are so many things to do with the postcards, but one of my favourites is to start off a reflective supervision session by asking the supervisee to bring along a postcard to share which represents where they feel they are on their journey. This is a particularly good activity for practice educators who can support a student to track their journey through postcards. Click on the following link see how one teaching partnership has supported students and practice educators to use this technique.


The postcards come with a booklet which has ideas on how to use the postcards in a range of ways including: to support direct work activities; to enhance CPD; to develop reflective writing; to improve analysis skills; to explore confirmation bias; to promote discussions in group supervision and team meetings; to support the management of change; to bring different learning styles and activities into training sessions; in feedback, affirmation and motivation (this list is not exhaustive). I recently posted pictures of the test print run of postcards on twitter and I think it has been commented on and liked more than anything else I have posted. At that point I couldn’t provide any more information as we did not know printing and packaging costs etc. As we work on a not for profit basis it takes us a while to work out costings. However, I can now tell you that the card set is £27.50 (inclusive of VAT). If you want to buy a set of postcards you can get them from our website here.


They will be available via Amazon and all the usual outlets by the end of this week. Some people may want to buy individual postcards once they have the set – they may for example post a card to someone and want to replace that in the set, or they may want multiple copies of the same card to use during a workshop. We are happy to respond to any such requests, although at this point only full sets are available on the website and people would need to email us with any other requests they have for cards at a later point. I think that flexibility will be important for social workers. I will try to respond to requests (maybe for other card images in the future etc) as people start using the cards. So, when you use the postcards let me know how it goes!
Many people have supported me in developing the postcards by contributing images, by testing ideas out and feeding back on the content of the cards. I can’t thank everyone here – but you know who you are, and a set of postcards is on the way to you.