Social Work, Cats and Rocket Science

Book Cover: Social Work, Cats and Rocket Scienceby Elaine James, Rob Mitchell and Hannah Morgan with Mark Harvey and Ian Burgess

This book tells stories of just how powerful social work can be. At its heart are stories drawn from frontline practice, ranging from first interviews through to complex decision-making.

Along the way, we meet the social worker who assessed a cat (though for all the right reasons). We witness the cost of failing to protect the rights of adults, exemplified in the tragic death of Connor Sparrowhawk. We also see the transformations that can happen when social workers really get it right – as in the case of Peter, whose love of balloons led them to feature in his care plan. These stories from practice are combined with guidance and reflective exercises to offer valuable practice wisdom and learning for new and experienced social workers alike.

By turns funny, wise and moving, this book articulates the personal and professional qualities needed to practise rights-based social work. It reveals the potential of the profession to make a difference to the lives of individuals and to communities.

All author proceeds are being donated to Stay Up Late an awesome charity that supports people with learning disabilities to live the lives they want to. 

Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and available to buy on their website (and from all good bookshops).

There is a Social Work, Cats and Rocket Science Spotify playlist chosen by social workers and people with lived experience of social work services.


Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families‘Whether a politician, a policy maker, a practitioner or a member of the public, everyone should read this. A collection of essays which beautifully portrays the role of social work in society. Much misunderstood, social work walks the tightrope of rights & responsibilities, autonomy & protection, care & control. An illuminating and passionate account of social work in the 21st Century.’

Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families)


Sara Ryan‘I would have bought this book for the title alone but the content is dazzling. Written by social workers who clearly love their work, it is powerful, hopeful, funny, informed and based on years of experience and learning. Social care is in need of an injection of colour, love, fun, innovation and creativity. ‘Social work, cats and rocket science’ is a cracking start.’

– Sara Ryan, Mum to Connor Sparrowhawk, Author of Justice for LB


Social Work, Cats and Rocket Science