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"I have never read anything quite like this book before. Its combination of family history and account of the development of modern social work, set against a background of national and international events and cultural and societal trends, must be unique.


It does not just combine these different elements, however, but in many places they are integrated together into an organic whole. It is a sprawling, idiosyncratic and engaging work that I found hard to put down, though here I am talking metaphorically.


I actually read it on a computer screen, and its length suggests that, if published as a single volume, it might not be so easy to pick up. It is a book that can be read on many levels.


Reading the first part of it, I found myself forgetting that its main object was to interweave a personal history with that of the social work profession, as I was enjoying learning about social, cultural and political developments in the second half of the nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century and the First World War.


Malcolm is a born storyteller who makes the events he recounts come alive. I think he would do so even if he did not also refer to his family’s involvement alongside and sometimes in these developments, but the part they play in the book’s multiple narratives give them another dimension altogether.


I love the way Malcolm will introduce a family member, in connection with some current event, and then say we will see them re-enter the story again ten years later. Reading on, it is not possible to keep all these threads in mind, but one has a background awareness that they are all there and being gradually woven together.

Being a keen student of social work history, I loved reading about how Malcolm began and developed his career in the profession. And from this point, the personal and professional become more integrated than ever.


The final paragraph of chapter 7 is wonderful, as Ann, who was to become Malcolm’s wife, made her entrance - in a flame red racing car - and they were appointed together as apprentice social workers.


There is much to learn in what follows about how social work developed from the 1960s onwards, and especially interesting is the account in Chapter 10 of the radical social work course in Maidstone that Malcolm played a central role in developing. A unique course, described in unique fashion in a unique book.

Social Work and Proud is a labour of love, and a testament to a life, or rather, lives, well lived and to work engaged in with dedication and radical intent. It will be an engaging read to any lover of stories, while providing valuable source material for historians of social work and social work education in the second half of the twentieth century.


It is structured so that it can be dipped into, with its different sections clearly marked, and readers can plot their own way through the parts that interest them most. Another such book is unlikely to come along any time soon, and my suggestion is that we all very much make the most of this one."

Guy Shennan

Chair BASW 2014-18

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"At school I had no interest in history whatsoever. Hearing or reading about kings and queens and ancient battles garnered not one jot of interest. However, when I later started studying sociology and began to appreciate that today’s society owes so much to the history that went before, I became fascinated by history – or at least social history, with still no appetite for kings and queens and ancient battles.

So, I relished the opportunity to read this book as it combines my interest in history with my commitment to social work as a driving force for making our society a fair and humane one. I was not disappointed.

What prevents this book from being yet another dry and dusty history tome that squeezes the life out of its subject matter by getting bogged down in detail is the very effective interweaving of the personal and the professional, the individual and the collective. This clever technique succeeds in bringing the stories to life.

What stands out in this fine piece of scholarly work is not only the author’s vast knowledge base, but also his value base, especially in terms of his recognition of the positive role social work has to play.


This book will be of great value to both social work professionals who want to understand more fully the roots of modern-day practice and students of history who want to see how social work – despite so often being marginalised – has contributed to social welfare and social justice in major ways."

Dr Neil Thompson's latest book is Anti-Discriminatory Practice: Equality, Diversity and Social Justice (7th edn, Red Globe Press).

Dr Neil Thompson

Independent writer, educator and adviser

"Written from a personal perspective as well as considering the socio dynamics of history’s impact over many decades, each chapter begins with an interesting quote, lyric, or poetic piece, inspiring the reader to consider class, inequality, poverty, war, hope.

There are interesting reflections about identity and social work – are we ‘shape shifters’ with ‘chameleon-like qualities’ working within a myriad of wide-ranging circumstances?


How do our previous roles and life experiences reflect in our social work? These questions are explored in chapters laid out to enable the reader to  concentrate on aspects in detail, or more lightly if preferred. 


Interestingly, recurring links of significance are joined across the chapters, capturing and refocusing the reader’s interest. This book will be enjoyed by social workers, social work students, and history-lovers alike."

Carol Reid

Registered Social Worker and National Organiser SWU

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