Working Back to the Future: Strengthening Radical Social Work with Children and Young People, and Their Perspectives on Resilience, Capabilities and Overcoming Adversity

Using data from participatory storytelling research with 65 young people, this article provides a co-created theoretical grounding for radical social work with children and young people. The problems and solutions social work should be seeking are explored in the light of resilience theories and the capability approach. The young people’s perspectives echo but extend existing resilience interventions and definitions of the capability approach, highlighting structural and historical patterns of inequality. They call for a collective response to adverse experiences, which become obvious in one zone of experience but have consequences and roots in other places. Social work could usefully employ expanded understandings of socio-ecological resilience and the capability approach to focus interventions more clearly on the root causes of adversities and shape interventions that highlight capability sustainability and co-created solutions. This would involve professionals working alongside children and young people, as well as their families and allies, to confront enduring patterns of disadvantage.