Over the last eight years we have noticed a number of success stories from our community. Our young clients are confident, articulate and have taken on a number of challenging tasks and succeeded. One of our many success stories is Marius, who has been attending the programmes since the beginning and comes from an environment of extreme neglect, he has been appointed head boy of his school this year. We know that he would not have been able to cope with the academic and social pressures of this position without the support and skills development he receives from Butterfly House. We are very proud, but this is only one story amongst many. He has changed his destiny!
Hence as representatives of a local authority we need to be mindful of the inherent power we hold as we are embedded in a statutory organisation whose work mainly revolves around management of risk and safeguarding. And as such we need to consider the discourses of power in play when we relate to clients. As part of marginalised groups people can often feel de-legitimised, silenced and thus “othered” as difference is often seen as opposites that divide rather than unify. ”The process of othering considers dualities of power and powerlessness, inclusion and exclusion, and representation” (Ayo, 2010). The process of ‘othering’ is always based on a value judgement. When mutual acknowledgements of the differences are made visible by being named and owned together it can be a fruitful process. However the responsibility to ‘bring forth’ the naming and acknowledgment of difference lies with the professional who usually holds a lot of power in the professional-client relationship. However, in social work it is not uncommon that professionals experience clients as “resistant”, which is often experienced as widening the gap in difference. But in the spirit of naming power and difference it is also useful to think about resistance, not merely as resistance but as a way of holding one’s position of power, as one end of a power continuum (Guilfoyle, 2003).