Together we conducted a really positive meeting, sharing knowledge and experience, including previous SWAN groups and campaigns.
An overview of our meeting:
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In November, Swan was heavily involved in hosting a one day conference on Mental Health and Welfare Reform, highlighting the psycho-compulsion characteristics of the current UK welfare system. As part of a continued and growing protest against the role of professional health bodies in this system, campaigners from across Merseyside and even as far afield as London gathered outside the annual BPS Clinical Psychology Conference at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool on Wednesday 18th January.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) is the professional body for UK psychologists and has been working with the government on aspects of its welfare reform programme. Please find attached the full report, and do share with your colleagues.
‘DEFENDING WELFARE, WELCOMING REFUGEES: ANOTHER SOCIAL WORK IS POSSIBLE’
Teeside holds a particular importance for our conference this year. Teeside has the highest proportion of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, and is amongst one of the most deprived areas. We are honoured to work alongside The Other Perspective, a refugee social enterprise, who will share a meal with us on Saturday evening in the student union, and provide the catering. Given the heavy involvement of Swan in anti-racism campaigning and social work in Calais over the past 18 months, this is a fitting partnership.
The conference will be held at the School of Health and Social Care at Teeside University, and there is parking on site for cars and coaches. There are lots of hotels and B+B options to suit most budgets in the local area (Travel Lodge/Jurys Inn etc.), and the campus is an approx. 11 minute walk from the train station.
The key themes for this year will be refugees and racism; anti-privatisation; welfare reform and international perspectives. Those of you who have been before will understand how powerful, energising and inspiring a Swan conference is. Those of you who have not, you are welcome and will not be disappointed.
Keep an eye on the website for updates, and feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We always do our best to help.
A mix of students and practitioners have come together to found the Plymouth Regional Swan Group, and they are very keen for any service users, practitioners, academics or students to come along to their first meeting. When people are experiencing crippling workloads and benefits cuts designed to keep us from gathering together, it is inspiring to see new SWAN groups appearing. They are always energising.
The location is confirmed as the Kinsman Room, upstairs in Sherwell Church, North Hill (PL4 8ER). Come along at 7pm on Thursday the 26th of January, for a friendly informal get together, in the spirit of solidarity.
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Home Sweet Home launched a Super Action in December, in response to the homelessness crisis in Ireland. Members across the IHN have been offering support, in an attempt to focus attention upon the welfare of homeless people and meet their basic needs. Homelessness across the UK has ballooned under the Conservative government, with homeless people dying on our streets, as well as being humiliated and excluded. Here is the SWAN Ireland statement:
“We believe the actions of homeless people, activists and volunteers in occupying and running Apollo House are a valuable and necessary contribution to providing homes for homeless people while also forcing the government to address the issue of homelessness and the broader housing emergency. Apollo House has become a symbol of people power, a space of dignity and justice and we stand with them in solidarity.
Swan Ireland supports the Irish Housing Network’s (IHN) campaign to recognise the importance of safe, affordable, secure and culturally-appropriate housing, a home, as a human right. As social workers and social care workers, we see first-hand how the brutal cuts to services over the past nine years have impacted on the lives of thousands of people in Irish society and placed them at increased risk of homelessness. We see in particular the effects on; lone parent families; young people leaving care; people with disabilities; people with mental health difficulties; people with addictions; members of the travelling community and people seeking asylum, to name but a few.
In Issue 3 of SWAN Ireland’s online bulletin Frontline, a number of contributors offered specific evidence of the numerous challenges faced by such groups when trying to access the resources needed to obtain a home, including; lack of access to sufficient income, gender inequality, carelessness of the state, and institutional racism. In our work on the frontline with users of social services, we see how the already marginalised position of many individuals within these groups places them at further disadvantages when accessing accommodation because they do not have access to the range of resources needed to obtain safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing. As a result of this, they experience increased levels of injustice and powerlessness which have devastating effects on their health, well-being, and self-worth and on their lives and their family’s lives also.
SWAN Ireland view a home as an essential aspect of equality; one which influences the nature of relationships that people have with themselves and with other members in Irish society. A home not only offers someone a place of safety and security, it offers people a safe place where they can produce relations of love and care, which are fundamental to our health and well-being as relational and interdependent beings. Homelessness therefore represents an affective injustice because people who are homeless are prevented from accessing the resources needed to support the giving and receiving of love and care. This injustice furthers their sense of loneliness, loss of self-worth and loss of dignity as human beings.
Given the fundamental role that a home plays in people’s lives, SWAN Ireland is deeply concerned about the lack of appropriate action taken by the government to deal effectively with the increasing numbers of homeless individuals and families (Hearne 2017).This inaction undermines the commitments made by government across a broad range of policy areas, including children and families, housing and homelessness and social inclusion. Instead it exacerbates the conditions that people with low levels of resources are living in, resulting in their unequal, inhumane and degrading treatment. Such treatment directly contravenes the ethical codes and value base that underpin the work of social work and social care professionals.
It is for the reasons outlined above that we support all of the demands put forward by the Home Sweet Home campaign.”
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