Direct work with Children Resource Bags Enabling the Social Work Role Background

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Enabling the Social Work Role

The direct work bags were distributed to 960 social workers across the 8 WLA boroughs. They contain a range of resources for different uses, and cover a wide range of ages. The bags have been used by social workers to undertake Story Stem work, Ecogram work and lots of drawing exercises - as well as forming a relationship with a child and giving them a partial distraction and reduce the intensity of difficult situations.  It is hoped that the resource bags encourage social workers to interact more directly with children and to take more notice of how children play while they engage with the parents.

In drawing up proposals to reduce bureaucracy it became clear that most of the suggestions were designed to minimise the reasons for staying in the office, rather than making direct work more attractive i.e. push factors rather than pull factors. The purpose of the resource bags was to help social workers develop increased skill and confidence in direct work with families, particularly children. We provided team training and materials for direct work with children, giving a number of teams across boroughs a renewed enthusiasm for direct work. In the long term we would like to build in regular workshops introducing tools and techniques.

We recognised that Social Workers need direct work resources to perform all or one of the following functions:

1) provide a focus and dilute the intensity of the interaction for the child

2) allow the child to express themselves creatively/ symbolically through play or art

3) calm and focus the child to change their energy level

4) builds a relationship by being a collaborative activity for worker and child

Resource Bag Contents




Supplier Details

Resource Bags (with Printed WLA Logo)

Enabling easy transportation of the resources during home visits



Communicating with Children: A two-way process (Resource Pack)


C Chamberlain & R Salzell

ISBN 10:1-905818-07-6

A detailed guide pulling together key research and evidence-based approaches to direct work children

79p (printing costs)

Free to download from the NCB website (publications)

Say it Your Own Way CD available from Barnados

1 CD per team to enable social workers to think about how children can express their feelings


Barnados (shop)

Speechmark Books:

How Hattie Hated Kinndess

A Wibble Called Bipley
Ruby and the Rubbish Bin
A Nifflenoo Called Nevermind
A Pea Called Mildred

Teenie Weenie in a Too Big World

Willy and the Wobbly House
The Day The Sea Went Out and Never Came Back
The Frog who Longed for the Moon to Smile

Stories to help children understand their feelings


(usual price £10.99)

Speechmark Publications

The Anti-Colouring Book

Alternative to a drawing activity - it's crammed with inspirational ideas that'll really stimulate the imagination


(usual price £6.99)

Scholastic (shop)

Activity Paper (coloured)

10 sheets of paper per bag

Vital for engaging


4.00 for 200 sheets)

Early Learning Centre




Supplier Details

Felt tip pens
(coloured pencils could also be included)

Vital for engaging, settling the child and creativity



Mini Multi Expression Stickers (1 sheet)

To enable children to express who they are feeling using stickers instead of words


School Stickers

1 pot per bag

Providing a tactile diluting activity into which the child can squeeze, stress relief and also a creative medium for expression

2.05 for 10 pots)

NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Finger Puppets
4 per bag

To facilitate role play activities (family dynamics)

(10 finger puppets £3.99)


Plastic Animal Toys
10 per bag

A couple of gentle looking animal families and a couple of fiercer animals to facilitate role play activities


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Sponge Ball

Providing a tactile diluting activity into which the child can squeeze, stress relief and also can be used for ball games


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Toy Car
1 per bag

Provides a distracting activity for children while engaging with their social worker


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier




Supplier Details

Mini Connect 4

Collaborative and calming


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Deck of cards

As above and can double as fake money / stepping stones / house of cards etc


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Make Your Own Jewellery

Joint activity that can be enjoyed with children and young people


NDA Toy Wholesale Supplier

Nail Varnish
(Make Up Academy)

Provides a distracting activity for young people while engaging with their social worker



Magazines suitable for adolescents
(NME, Heat, Look)

Provides a distracting activity for young people while engaging with their social worker


WHSmith / News agent

Cost per set


(excluding cost of CD for teams)

Activity Idea – Island Pictures
Drawing islands is a good way to engage with children and find out who they like to have close to them and why:
On a page draw 3 islands; one is where the child lives, one is joined by a gated bridge (potential visitors to the child’s island live here - the child has the key to the gate and controls who visits and when) the last island is further away and not joined to the child’s island.
Get the child to put what and who they want on their island (mum, sister, pet, favourite toys), and to decide who might be able to visit sometimes (putting those people on the visitors island). When will they be allowed on to the child’s island? Finally get the child to think about whom they want to put on the island far away and what might be in the water between the islands.
During this activity children can use colour and or pictures/collage and the worker can use open ended questions to find out what the positions, colours and pictures mean to the child.

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