This training module is a suggestion of how to organize a week on service users’ participation in social work education. It can be used as an inspiration when developing a training module together with service users and social work students.

     It is presented on a PowerPoint describing possible contents for each day of the week. For certain days (1 and 2), you will access links to complementary tools (not included in the toolkit).

Welcome exercise

Before: (for the lecturer)

– Select a number of ‘positive’ pictures (20 to 30) from a game box. – You can also select from free online images , search term ‘people’

– Hang out the photos, put them on the table, show them

Assignment for the students:

(individual) Select two photos

– Photo 1: this photo expresses who I am, what I stand for : Take a photo that best fits you as a person

– Photo 2: Tell us why you have chosen this picture . I associatiate this image with service users because…

In group:

In a round you let each student propose his / her two photos, presenting the pictures and the answers on the questions. Tell the group what you expect from the coming week.

My own values

We found some inspiration on this website (



Civic responsibility – The workshop aims to bring participants on the same level when talking about values. It also aims to bring the individual responsibility from a far perspective by first discussing values and experiencing being confronted with our own values.



● to get acquainted with values as concept and how that underlines one own’s perceptions, beliefs, understanding of cultures, society etc.

● to provide a space to introduce basic human rights and values behind it

● realize concrete actions a young person can take to “internalize” values



This activity will deal with the topic of values. To get started please form small buzz groups of maximum 3 and try to brainstorm about what values means to you. (10’) In plenary collect the outcomes from group work, try to identify the group own’s understanding on values. We suggest avoiding define, definition as wording not to confuse the group that we are looking for proven definition. (15-25’) Activity Ask the group to form slightly a bigger group up to maximum 5 participants. Share with them the set of words (see in Annex) and explain the tasks:

● Their aim is to create a pyramid out of the cards, based on how they prioritise them.

● They are encouraged to discuss the meaning of different values within their small group.

● As addition a small presentation (oral) should be prepared as wall to explain the reasons of their prioritizing strategy.

Timing: Introduction 5’, Activity 25-30’, Presentation 3-5’ per each group



In plenary after the presentations, we suggest having a closure at the end to debrief the activity. Suggestions for the debriefing:

● How did you feel yourself during the activity? Was it easy for you or not? Why?

● What was surprising for you?

● Do you have a better understanding of values? Pls. explain

● How do you think in youth work these values are represented?

Timing: 20-25’

Themed walk for example poverty, history and human rights, inclusive environment, …

Organize a walk where the link with the theme is palpable.

Example: city walk with the theme of poverty. “Over the centuries, poverty also left traces in the streets, as well as the way in which poverty was combated. What was the role of the then board What anecdotes, myths and prejudices are circulating about this permanently topical theme?”

With a guide, stroll through the heart of the city past the places that tell the story of urban poverty past and present.

During the walk you can visit a social work organization

You can visit a social work organization where the theme of participation is central. Let a service user talk about his/her experience with working together with a Social Work education for example internship of a student.

Information and clarification

Give an overview of the rest of the week and clarify core concepts, intentions of the pedagogical activities and what’s expected by the students.

Core concepts

Concepts to clarify are service user (linking to concept of service user) and participation (linking to participation clouds)


Describe the goals (linking to how to set the goal) of the totality of the pedagogical activities.


Describe all the assignments that the students need to do during the week.








You can propose to the students to write an individual and/or collective report about the experience. Hear some examples for inspiration.

To collect feedback from students

1) What did you learn in the programm of this week ?

2) How do you feel during the activities of this week, with reference to the encounter with service users ?

3) To what extent did this week broaden your knowledge about the involvement of service users in social work education ?

4) How has this week contributed to your professional development as a social worker ?

5) What will you take into the future as a social worker ?

Report of the training week – collective point of view / expectations of the report

1) Short introduction to present the group and the week

2) Content of the training week

→ Describe the main pedagogical activities during the week. What kind of activities where you involved in ?

→ Reflection :

  • What and how did you learn?
  • What was innovative?
  • Where do you see an added value for yourself, as a future social worker, or a social added value?
  • What competences has been developed?
  • If you had contact with professionals: how did they work empoweringly with the target group of service users?
  • What suggestions do you have for improvement?
  • On which ways were service users involved during this week? · To what extent does the context (macro e.g. society, meso e.g. organization, micro interpersonal relationship) influences the involvement of service users in social work education ?
  • Describe bottlenecks and benefits that can facilitate/obstruct the involvement of service users in social work education.
  • Do you have any suggestions on how to tackle these bottlenecks?

3) Conclusion

  • What are the messages you are going to tell to your co-students ?
  • What was the effect of this training week on you, as a group of future social workers?
  • Other remarks?

Prepare the students/Reflections


Bear in mind to prepare the students for the forthcoming activities with service users. To enhance their mindset and skills (linking prerequisites). Maybe include time to discuss the two core concepts here in the beginning.

This workshop aims to bring students to name their individual feelings, thoughts and questions all along this activity. Reflecting with oneself is complementary to reflect among students (among peers) and with service users.


  • to put into words what they are aware of
  • to develop their reflective capacity
  • to keep track of the evolution of their reflections


Before starting the activity with service users, and then at the end of each session/day, each student is invited to take some time alone (with himself).

Before starting the activity with service users, students can make an inventory of their practices regarding service users’ participation. For example, they can answer the following questions:

  • For you, “promoting the service users’ participation is »… write 3 key words
  • During an internship, how do you develop the participation of the user?
  • in individual support
  • in collective actions
  • in discussions with professionals
  • “Co-construction with service users ? why do it”… write 3 ideas

Another way: Students reflect on situations that they lived during their internship and then choose one. This could be a situation in which there is a gap between

what they experienced with the service user and what they would have liked to experience. It can be related to the topic of the programm. Then they formulate a question that this situation raises for them. From this question they can start to discuss with service users.

Then all along the programm, at the end of each session/day, students can answer the following questions:

  • During this session/this day :
  • an emotion I felt
  • a different way of looking at things/a new idea/something different I hadn’t thought
  • a question, something I want to continue to question

It can be helpful to have some music that helps students to concentrate, while they are invited to write. It can help them to put themselves in their “own bubbles”.


There are several ways to do this. Students can write:

  • In a notebook (given by the lecturer or made by the student with some sheets of paper). The student keeps this notebook along the programm. At the end of the “writing time”, or the next day, before starting the next session, each student choose an extract from his notebook and then reads it to the group.
  • on a paper (anonymous or not, as the student chooses). At the end of the writing time, or the next day, before starting the new session, each student randomly draws a paper and reads it. The reading by another student allows different points of view to be shared.