UK (University of Chichester) Memories from the Forgotten Frontline: free exhibition at the University of Chichester

A free exhibition which opens this month in Chichester has documented the impact of Covid from the viewpoint of social work staff who worked on the frontline during the pandemic. 

Formed from photographs submitted by social workers to a research project at the University of Chichester in collaboration with the University of Sussex and West Sussex County Council, the project draws from descriptions of social workers as the ‘forgotten frontline’ during Covid-19 and collects them into a free to view exhibition. It aims to present social workers’ everyday experiences during the pandemic in a new light through this vibrant, visual medium open to all.  

Dr Denise Turner, who leads the Social Work degrees at the University, said: “As a profession, social work often lacked the public respect and recognition more frequently shown to NHS and healthcare workers during the pandemic (…) this digital archive will increase the visibility of social work as a profession.” 

The exhibition draws from the tradition of memory work (a practice which allows the subject to draw upon past experiences to explain present behaviours) and covers four themes: Belonging and connection, health and wellbeing, home and away, loss and change.

Tracy Davis, Principal Social Worker for Adults’ Services at West Sussex County Council, said: “I have been really pleased that we have been involved in the Forgotten Frontline project. The impact of Covid-19 on our frontline social workers in our adults and children’s services teams has been significant and so often not been seen publicly.  

“This project has helped shine a light on social workers experiences and observations throughout the pandemic, during which they remained dedicated to supporting those in need of their help.” 

The exhibition only showcases a sample of the photos from the website, and the full archive can be viewed online. Following the exhibition, the photos will be housed by the British Association of Social Work. 

The exhibition is free for all who want to visit and can be found in the University of Chichester library, College Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6PE. More information and the entire exhibition catalogue can be found on the project archive.