Belonging and Detachment 3

It’s a personal struggle too. I was reminded of this by a recent family wedding. My father is the son of a miner, the oldest of nine children. The remaining children continued to live in Yorkshire, largely in working class communities. Only my father ‘escaped’ to university and a mobile lifestyle as a clergyman, a professional trade that involved the exercise of leadership. He became different, and at family occasions this difference is demonstrated. At the wedding, he took part not just as a family member, but also as a professional, responsible for the conduct of the ceremony. The combination of participant and observer characterised family life and life in the Church. As a minister’s son, I was never an ordinary participant in the community life, any more than was my father. Now I re-enact the role in my professional life in social work; a mobile lifestyle, and a separateness from the local community characterises many social workers. None of my present team has parents living within 30 miles of the new city. Instinctual neighbourhood community life is readily idealised in social work, perhaps because the reality of it is lost from the personal experience of most social workers.

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