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Dr Peter Unwin

Senior Lecturer, Social Work

Institute of Health & Society

Contact Details


tel: 01905 85 5126

I have enjoyed a long and varied career in social work, specialising in safeguarding, foster care and service user and carer (SUAC) involvement. I began my career in residential care in South Africa in the days of apartheid and this era of oppression fired me up with a strong sense of social justice. I went on to qualify as a social worker in the UK and moved into senior management and inspection roles with local authorities.

I have also run my own business in domiciliary care for adults and children and worked / volunteered for a range of voluntary sector organisations as well as having been a foster carer.

I have been at the University of Worcester since 1999 and been part of its growth and diversification, having been particularly associated with safeguarding and the inclusion of carers and service users. I have also travelled widely and spoken at several international conferences, being interested to learn how differently similar social problems are tackled elsewhere.


PhD  University of Warwick
PGCE University of Huddersfield
MSc Social Services Management, University of Lancaster
CQSW University of Wales
Diploma in Applied Social Studies, University of Wales
BA (Hons), University of East Anglia

Teaching & Research

Teaching & Research

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests are in the area of safeguarding, foster care and in hearing the voices of service users and carers. I facilitate the Institute of Health and Society’s ‘IMPACT’ Service User and Carer group and encourage their involvement in classroom teaching and assessment.

I teach across a range of disciplines and other Institutes and try to model interdisciplinary respect in my teaching. We need to teach more and know more about each other’s’ professions if we are to produce new generations of health and care professionals who will work together in the interests of promoting welfare and avoiding tragedy. I use Carl Rogers’ approach to learner-centred teaching - ‘A person cannot teach another person directly; a person can only facilitate another's learning’ (Rogers, 1951). I always strive to set an atmosphere in the classroom that encourages and enthuses learners to be passionate about my subjects and seek out more knowledge for themselves.

Research Interests

I am interested in the privatisation and marketisation of health and welfare services and the effects that these political doctrines have on relationship-based ways of working within local communities.

My PhD study concerned the role of Agency Social Workers, whose presence in the contemporary workforce is now significant, despite being little researched or understood. Child Sexual Exploitation and the many intriguing areas of foster care remain core research interests as does the challenges of co-producing research outputs with service users and carers. Working together with the University’s IMPACT group of service users and carers we have begun to achieve successes in this largely unexplored area and have produced several publications and presented together at both national and international conferences.

Professional Bodies

Professional Bodies

British Association of Social Workers
Health Care Professions Council
Winston Churchill Fellow



Recent Publications

Misca, G. and Unwin, P. (2017 - in press) ‘Psychology and Social Work. Applied perspectives’. London: Polity Press.

Unwin, P., Rooney, J. and Cole, C. (2017 - in press) Service user and carer involvement in students’ classroom learning in Higher Education. Journal of Further and Higher Education

Unwin, P., Rooney, J. and Osborne, N. (2016): Gaining by giving? Peer research into service user and carer perceptions of inclusivity in Higher Education, Social Work Education.

Unwin, P and Stephens-Lewis, D. (2016) Evaluating the Health Implications of Childhood Sexual Exploitation on Parents. Pace: Report for Department of Health.

Unwin, P. (2016) Strategic Alliance between Service User and Carer Organisations and BASW – The Debate. Strategic Report to BASW Council, Birmingham

Hayes, S. and Unwin, P. (2016) Comparing the Cultural Factors in the Sexual Exploitation of Young People in the UK and the USA: Insights for Social workers, Social Work Review / Revista de Asistenta Sociala 1/2016.

Unwin, P. and Stock, K. (2015) Report to Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board – ‘The Views of Parents and Carers whose children are involved in CSE’.WSCB

Unwin, P. (2014) The Role of Agency Social Work in England, PhD Thesis: University of Warwick

Unwin, P. and Misca, G. (2013) The changing face of adoption in England: Opportunities and Dilemmas, Social Work Review / Revista de Asistenta Sociala 12(2).

Unwin. P and Osborne, N. (2012) The Involvement of service users in feedback systems for social work students: HEA Report.

Unwin. P. and Hogg, R. (2012) Effective Social Work with Children and Families. A Skills Handbook. Sage: London

Recent Conference Presentations


  • ‘Parents’ Experiences – The Health Impact of CSE’, Named GP Conference, York (with Pace)
  • ‘The Health Implications of Childhood Sexual Exploitation on Parents’, 3rd. International Law Enforcement and Public Health International Conference, Amsterdam, Holland ( with Dr. D. Stephens-Lewis)
  • ‘Transformative or Tokenistic - Can involving service users and carers (SUAC) in the training of health and social care professionals promote social justice?' (with Dr. J. Rooney). Social Justice: building a fairer, more equal society – William Temple Foundation / University of Worcester.
  • ‘Reimagining the social care workforce’. Re-imagining Adult Social Care, Research into Practice Annual Conference, Birmingham (with I. Parkhill, IMPACT)
  • 'Social Workers and Service Users against Austerity Alliance’ (with ATD 4th World), Joint Social Work and Education conference (JSWEC). OU. Milton Keynes
  • ‘Health Impact of CSE on Parents’ , The Dynamics of Sexual Violence and Abuse: Local, National and International Perspectives Conference, University of Worcester (with Dr. D. Stephens-Lewis)
  • ‘Shame on You - Perceptions of CSE in a Rural County’ Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Board Conference, Hereford.  


  • ‘The impact of IMPACT – reflections on the first seven years of a service user and carer (SUAC) group at the University of Worcester, UK’. Where’s the Patient’s Voice in Health Care Education – 10 Years on? University of British Columbia International Conference, Canada. (with Dr. J.Rooney)
  • ‘“You see them more as a person" - The impact of service user and carer involvement in student learning at an English University’. Where’s the Patient’s Voice in Health Care Education – 10 Years on? University of British Columbia International Conference, Canada. (with Dr. J.Rooney)
  • Current Challenges in English Social Work and Social Work Education, Christelijke Hogeschool, Ede, Netherlands. International Conference (with L.Parish)
  • ‘Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth –Perspectives on Domestic Violence Services for men’. National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse Cross Cutting Issues Conference, University of Worcester.
  • ‘Relationship- based Practice’. Learning and Teaching Conference, University of Worcester (with Morgan, L and Zanca, R.)
  • National Working Group (NWG) Conference, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham – ‘It doesn’t happen here' – Perspectives on CSE in a rural county’ (with Dr. G.Misca)
External Responsibilities

External Responsibilities

Member of Worcestershire County Council  Safeguarding Network
Adviser for Foster Care Independent Support Services
British Association of Social Workers ( BASW ) Council Lead on Service User and Carer Involvement
BASW Representative on ‘Social Workers and Service Users against Austerity Alliance’
External Examiner, BA and MA in Social Work, University of Portsmouth
Journal Referee – Health and Care in the Community
Book Reviewer – Sage Publications Ltd.