Allow us to dream: professional love, corporate parenting and the development of relational practices

Lynda Turner, Barry Percy-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper aims to promote debate about the conditions required to manifest professional love in working with care experienced young people. Drawing on Communities of Practice theory, a document analysis of the Care Leavers’ Strategy illustrates that whilst love is fore-grounded in the role of the Corporate Parent, looked after children are conceptualised as needs-driven service users, and professionals as service providers. This leads to a culture of compliance where work can be monitored and measured, rather than an environment where love can flourish.

Using the lens of professional love we undertook thematic analyses reflecting on relational practices from data gathered across three projects with young people and professionals1. Interviews with care experienced young people confirmed the transformational value of caring relationships with professionals across different agencies. From a focus group with Corporate Parents, relationships with young people were seen to encourage reflection on professional practice. We argue that establishing the conditions to manifest professional love has the potential to effect change not only in the cared for, but also in professionals. This is a crucial step towards developing new person centred policies for children and young people. We also analysed data from workshops with a range of professionals. Our data suggest the need for cross agency relationships to enable understanding of each other, a central component in the development of professional love. We take a radical position in claiming that the needs of the carer, in being heard and feeling valued, must be acknowledged for a true ethos of care to be established and for humanising practices to flourish. In this way, professional practice can be transformed, leading to positive changes and creating the conditions needed to manifest love as a component of social policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRadical Community Work Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Allow us to dream: professional love, corporate parenting and the development of relational practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this