Social Work Action Network Ireland 1st Annual Conference

SWAN Ireland wants to build alliances with all social workers, social care workers, students, academics, family members, service users, welfare claimants, activists, trade unionists, advocacy workers and care workers, in order to fight for a just society that values people and solidarity at it’s core.


Frequently Asked Question’s

Where is the conference taking place?

Focus Ireland Training Centre, George’s Hill Apartments,
The corner of Halston Street and Little Britain Street,
Dublin 7,

(10 minute walk from O’Connell Street)

(This venue is wheelchair accessible)

When is the conference taking place?

Friday, 1 November 2013 from 10:30 to 17:00

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

There is very limited on street pay and display parking near the event. Public transport and walking are the best options to get to the venue.

WALKING: From the Spire on O’ Connell street walk down Henry street (one of the main shopping streets in Dublin). Henry street turns into Mary street. Continue on to Mary Street. At the end of Mary street turn right on to Capel street. Walk for approximately three minutes and turn left on to Little Britain Street. Walk straight (about two minutes) until you reach a small square with a park on your right hand side. On the left corner of the square is George’s Hill Apartments. Walk into the apartment complex and you will see a church on your left hand side. The conference is in this building.

If you are taking a regional train into Dubln, Connolly station is a five minute walk from O’Connell street (walk down Talbot street and you will arrive straight at the Spire)

If you arrive to Dublin at Heuston train station, take the red line Luas to the Middle Abbey street stop and walk three minutes to the Spire.

For train timetables check:

For bus timetable check:

For local bus timetables check:

Speaker Biography’s

Dr Margaret Kennedy PhD
Margaret is a specialist on ‘disability and abuse’, having pioneered resources and training in this difficult area of child protection over 20 years. She has written extensively on this subject and gained awards for her work. She has lectured across the world and presented in the EU and in the Oireachtas. She was instrumental in bringing to light ‘The McCoy Report’ into abuse of learning disabled people in the Brothers of Charity , Galway.  See the programme ‘would you believe’ ‘The Spirit & the Letter’
– She also founded a support group for Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors in the UK ‘MACSAS’ ‘Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors’. Now living in Ireland Margaret is passionately concerned about disability equality and the erosion of disability rights and equality under ‘austerity’ politics. She is a disabled feminist Christian, intent on uncovering injustice in all its forms, especially when it involves marginalised groups.
Dr. Paul-Michael Garrett
Paul is the author of four single-authored books critically examining social work/social policy relating to children and families: Remaking Social Work with Children and Families (Routledge, 2003); Social Work with Irish Children and Families in Britain (Policy Press, 2004); ‘Transforming’ Children’s Services? (Open University/McGraw Hill, 2009); Social Work and Social Theory (Policy Press, 2013). His work has also appeared in academic journals across a range of disciplines and he has presented papers at a number of international conferences. He is a member of the editorial boards of Critical Social Policy (where he edits the book reviews), the European Journal of Social Work and is a consulting editor for the US-based Journal of Progressive Human Services.
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley
Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley is a lecturer in the Department of History, NUI Galway. Her research centres on the history of childhood and child welfare in Ireland. Her forthcoming book, The Cruelty Man: Child Welfare, the NSPCC and the State in Ireland, 1889-1956 will be published by MUP in November 2013.
More to be added soon.

Ticket Price

To register for the conference please go to: and register online. Please print your ticket and bring it with you on the day of the conference. PAYMENT TO BE MADE ON THE DAY.

Ticket prices are as follows:

€5 – Unwaged/Student/Service User/Carer.

€10 – Waged/Academic.

€15 – Solidarity Price. Will go towards funding those who cannot afford a ticket.

If you would like to attend the conference but cannot afford a ticket please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you. As this conference is meant to be inclusive and is about building alliances between those working in social services and those using public services, we do not want people being excluded for financial reasons.

I have a question that is not covered in the FAQ’s

If you have a query about the conference that is not answered here please feel free to email us at: or ring 00353-86-8454011.

For more information about the Social Work Action Network Ireland:




Practice notes: social security, benefits and the role of social workers

A few suggestions for distribution: pin up in your workplace and give to fellow practitioners – send around your union branches – hand out to fellow students and educators – pass around women’s centres, disabled people’s organisations and service user and carers groups – hand them out at the bus stop! 😉

This resource is intended to be USED in social work and care practice. We hope this will prove a reviving response to the welfare reforms and a tool for all those who encounter it.

NB: the document is hyperlinked so it works best as an electronic copy. That said, if you do a simple internet search on the organisations and themes mentioned, the referenced websites should be easy accessible. Sneak off some copies on your department’s photocopier today…

Solidarity with claimants!
SWAN London

International call out against new proposal to criminalise homelessness in Hungary

Social Work Action Network is proud to have supported the fight of radical social workers and other Hungarian activisits against the criminalisation of homeless people in this country in the past. In 2011,we organised a petition for the radical social worker Norbert Ferencz from “Új szemelét” (New Directions) when he faced a 3 year jail sentence for his activism against the criminalisation of homeless and poor people in Hungary.

The proposed changes to the Penal Code come despite many international challenges and even rebuttal of similar legislation by the Hungarian Constitutional Court in 2012. Social Work Action Network joins the A Varos Mindenkie call for solidarity by encouraging you to do the following to stop this inhmane piece of legislation and show solidarity with the homeless people in Hungary. There are two things you can do:
– send a brief letter to the Hungarian Minister of Interior, Sándor Pintér, who sumibtted the proposed legal changes, and ask him to withdraw it. His e-mail address is You should cc AVM in the message (
– If you have time and resources, organise a solidarity demonstration on or before 30th of September 2013, when the Hungarian Parliament will vote on the proposed legislation. Please send AVM pictures from the protest (, so that they can publicise it on their website and facebook page.

SWAN Steering Committee today (Saturday 21st September 2013) sent the following letter to Mr. Pinter:

Dr. Sándor Pintér
Ministry of Interior
József Attila u. 2-4.
1051 Budapest

19th of September 2013.
Dear Dr. Pinter,


It was brought to our attention that the Hungarian Parliament is once again debating legislation, this time the modification of the Penal Code, that would define street homelessness as an infraction punishable by fine, community service or jail (for “repeat offenders).

The proposed changes would treat homeless Hungarian citizens as criminals, rather than debating how these issues should be addressed in terms of their social and economic causes.  According to the available evidence, there are some 500,000 uninhabited housing units around the country, 324,000 of which are in cities and many could be used in a housing programme for the estimated 30,000 homeless people in Hungary.

The proposed changes are also opting to ignore the Hungarian and international challenges and rebuttal to the proposed human rights abuses against the homeless people:

– In November 2012, the Constitutional Court of Hungary struck down a law that criminalized street homelessness, arguing that the state should address homelessness as a social and not a criminal issue.
– In April 2013, the UN Human Rights Council  noted that the prior amendments to the Basic Law “institutionalize the criminalization of homelessness and enshrines discrimination against the stigmatization of homeless persons in the constitution” (UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda ), calling for the government to retract the amendment.

We are appalled that the changes that would result in repeated criminalization of the poorest citizens in Hungary are once again on the Governments’ Agenda. In light of the available evidence, we urge you to withdraw the proposed changes and urge the State Secretariat for Social Inclusion to develop relevant housing programmes.
Yours sincerely,

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Steering Committee Members:

Dr. Mark Baldwin, Director of Social Work Studies and Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Bath
Prof. Peter Beresford, OBE, Director, Centre for Citizen Participation, Brunel University and Chair, Shaping our LIves
Kerry Cuskelly, Mental Health Social Worker/Founding Member of the Social Work Action Network Ireland
Prof. Iain Ferguson, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, University of the West of Scotland
Dr. Vassilios Ioakimidis, Secretary of the European Association of Schools of Social Work
Prof. Michael Lavalette, Liverpool Hope University, SWAN National Co-ordinator
Barrie Levine, Lecturer in Social Work, Glasgow Caledonian University
Dr. Reima Ana Maglajlic, SWAN International Secretary
Dan Morton, Social Worker and Co-ordinator, SWAN London
Rich Moth, Lecturer in Social Work, Liverpool Hope University
Dr. Terence Murphy, Regional Chair UCU
Dr. Maria Pentaraki, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Liverpool Hope University

Social care workers show solidarity to Hovis Zero Hours Strikers

‘Hovis workers in Wigan are taking action over zero contracts. This is about all of us, particularly in social care, where Unison reports several thousand privatized care workers are on Zero Hours contracts.

It is also about the most vulnerable who need care and support who do not have consistency of carers. It means often numerous strangers walking through the door often agency workers who do not get a chance to form a bond with people.

Agency workers should be paid decent rate and have permanent contracts as should all care workers, and if the work is there then, there should be permanent jobs and no need for agency.

Hovis workers through mass picketing are on strike for all of us – their struggle is our struggle, the pictures show pickets stopping lorries from leaving the factory with chants such as ‘the workers united will never be defeated’.

Being with them on the picket line has been an inspiration. The Hovis workers know that this is about everyone including Unison and care workers. Pictures tell their own story.

Home carers and social workers have been on the picket line. The lorries were being driven by managers brought in from other parts of the country the mass pickets stopped most of the deliveries.’


SWAN backs the Glasgow Homeless Casework Team unofficial strike

SWAN members in Scotland were pleased to hear today that the striking workers held a lunchtime rally and are also planning to hold another tomorrow.

SWAN as a radical campaigning social work organisation would like to pay tribute to and express our solidarity with the courageous actions of these social workers in standing up to their management and refusing to sacrifice the homeless people with whom they work nor themselves to austerity. They have stuck to their principles and values while drawing a line in the sand; in doing so they reinvigorate and breathe hope back into the profession. We applaud such actions and we will be arranging a healthy donation for the striking workers from our solidarity fund – this should be passed to them tomorrow (Wednesday 18th September).

SWAN Steering Committee members have been sending personal messages of support to our colleagues and comrades in Glasgow:

Michael Lavalette, National Co-ordinator, Social Work Action Network (SWAN):
‘Dear sisters and brothers, I am writing to you as the National Co-ordinator of the Social Work Action Network. I would like to pass on our solidarity greetings and best wishes to our colleagues and comrades who are on strike in the homeless section of Glasgow city council. Your strike is occurring at a vital time. ‘Austerity’ is being used as a cover to transform state welfare provision in a way that is detrimental to workers and service users. Your fight is an inspiration to all of us who want to end privatisation and austerity and who are engaged in the struggle for a better world.’

Iain Ferguson, Steering Committee and Treasurer, Social Work Action Network (SWAN):
‘Solidarity with our striking Glasgow colleagues from the Social Work Action Network.  You are at the sharp end of the fight against cuts and managerialism and deserve the support of us all. We will be urging our supporters throughout the UK to deliver moral and financial solidarity.’

Dan Morton, Steering Commitee, Social Work Action Network (SWAN) and Coordinator, SWAN London:
‘SWAN London send their best wishes and total support to trade union colleagues in Glasgow. Thanks for standing up for homeless people in Glasgow, your colleagues and giving the austerity-mongers a bloody nose!’

Sue Talbot, SWAN Steering Committee and West Yorks SWAN:
‘Brothers and sisters, At a time when public service workers, services and service users are all under the cosh we send solidarity greetings. We know that we’re all suffering the effects of neo-liberal policy and ideology and that we cannot do ‘more for less’ & won’t settle for doing ‘less for less’. We welcome your defence of jobs and services and join you in demanding reinstatement, ‘no cover’ & the filling of vacant posts.’

Mark Baldwin, SWAN Steering Committee, South West England SWAN:
‘The South West Regional group of SWAN in England sends a message of support to the social workers of the North and East Community Homeless Casework Team of Glasgow. The 250 social workers, service users, student social workers and social work academics of the South West of England SWAN network send a message of support at this moment when you are resisting the imposition of working practices which will fundamentally affect not only your own working conditions but, much more importantly, the well-being of people who are homeless.  Their needs and particularly their need for regaining some sense of autonomy in their lives through the support that your team can provide will be seriously compromised if managerial decisions which reduce the service provided are not resisted. We recognise that social workers across the country are being put into very similar positions by managerialist and politically motivated decisions designed to reduce the welfare state at a time when recession and austerity is actually increasing the numbers of people being pushed into needing services like the ones you provide.  In that sense WE are all in this together; your struggle is our struggle.
Stand firm against injustice.  We are with you in spirit’

SWAN would encourage all its members and supporters to send messages of solidarity as soon as possible to Unison Glasgow City Branch. Financial donations can be taken in cash to the branch or by cheque (made payable to the branch and sent to the postal address):

UNISON Glasgow City Branch
84 Bell Street,

Phone: +44 (0)141 552 7069
Fax: +44 (0)141 552 3807


UPDATE  – Solidarity Works!

UNISON members in Homeless Service returned to work at 1.30pm on Wednesday 18th September on basis that official strike will be organised. A meeting between management and UNISON took place at 2pm today to seek immediate progress on a workload management scheme. Suspended worker reinstated without any further action. Members content that point has been made about unacceptable workloads and poor staffing levels. Total unity of decision to return to work on this basis’.

SWAN stands ready with £250 donation from the national solidarity fund and a further £230 from SWAN London should the Caseworkers progress to further industrial action.