SWAN PICKETS THE 2018 SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
SWAN and our supporters took the case against unethical corporate sponsorship to the Social Worker of the Year Awards and held a friendly picket outside London’s plush Royal Lancaster Hotel on Friday the 30th November, where the 2018 awards ceremony was being held. For over an hour we leafleted, spoke to sponsors, social workers, nominees and their guest arriving for the awards. We found that the majority of those who stopped to talk to us had already heard about the campaign, understood our case and fully supported what we were doing. This was a reflection of the widespread support we have had for this campaign from social workers up and down the country, who agree that sponsors with a track record like that of Capita have no place in social work let alone at a workforce awards ceremony.
With CAPITA having been removed from the Social Worker of the Year website, a judge resigning and the organisation ‘Social Workers Without Borders’ withdrawing from the award in protest at CAPITAs sponsorship, the organisers appear to have treated this as just a PR disaster and their initial response was to hide behind the excuse that no-one wanted a ‘debate about sponsorship to overshadow the work of the Social Worker of the Year Awards’. However, they have been forced to recognise the depth of feeling in support of this campaign and have been reminded that they did the same in 2012 by allowing G4S as a sponsor.
As the evening got underway inside the awards itself, the very first announcement they made was that they knew there had been big issues with the sponsorship of the awards this year and that the Awards Board were taking ‘the matter seriously’. They announced and repeated their intention, as they had said in an earlier public statement, to hold an ‘ethics review’ of future sponsorship and here they were greeted with much clapping and cheering from the audience – another indication of the popular support for the campaign. That fact the award organisers were forced to address the issue right at the start of their event, and for those in the audience to give such a response, gives some sense of the impact we have all made with this campaign.
We wish to remind the organisers and the corporate sponsors that the charity that runs and owns SWYA have still yet to publically explain why they invited or accepted CAPITA as a sponsor in the first place.