Booking open for SWAN Conference 2014

The plenary sessions at this year’s conference are:

– Building Critical Alliances, Mending the Gap in Social Work’
– Fighting for good practice in times of austerity
– History and future challenges for social work

This year’s conference will provide a forum for social work practitioners, academics, service users, students and activists to discuss:
–    Defending good social work practice and promoting social justice-based approaches in times of austerity.
–    The impact of austerity and development of alternatives.
–    Building critical alliances in defence of social work and social justice.
–    History of radicalism in social and community work.
–    10 years from the publication from the “Manifesto for a new engaged practice”: the emergence of new radicalism and future directions for the Social Work Action Network.
–    Social movements and international social work.
–    Developing a progressive pedagogy in social work education.

Please see the bottom of this article for a number of documents for download: draft programme, how to get to the conference, call for papers, seminars & workshops. Audience at SWAN Conf 2013

In order to complete your online registration please click here. A flyer for the conference is downloadable at the foot of the page.
Conference fees for 2014 are:
£15 Students
£35 Waged
£65 Academics, trade union representatives
Free for service users and asylum seekers

Accommodation (not included in the registration fee):
(There is only a limited number of university provided accommodation in this price. Please book early to avoid disappointment) – £40 (single en suite)

Conference Dinner (not included in the registration fee) – £15

Should you have any queries regarding booking and accommodation, please contact

If you have any questions abouth the content and themes of the conference please contact Vasilios Ioakimidis

Please send you abstracts to (for more infomation read the call for papers)

A response to Michael Gove: wrong on social work education

Ironically, Gove’s analysis is itself remarkably simplistic and lacks an appreciation of how students are equipped with a with number of theories, methods and skills to take into practice, alongside understandings and critiques of social problems at structural, cultural and interpersonal levels. More importantly the speech either misses or functions as a deliberate smokescreen to cloud the true problems affecting social work; reduced funding, low political priority, excessive caseloads and growing client demand. This week a letter signed by a number of social work academics – including many in SWAN – was published in the Guardian on Thursday 14th November to respond to Gove’s damaging comments. The text of the letter appears below: 

It is heartening to hear Michael Gove acknowledge that his life was transformed through the skill of the social workers involved in placing him for adoption (Gove calls for radical reform of social work, 12 November). Like David Cameron’s recognition in his conference speech that social work is “a noble and demanding vocation”, Gove’s statement is in welcome contrast to the vilification of social workers in which politicians and the media too often indulge.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion, however, that Gove’s praise amounts to little more than a cover for attacking the social science and ethical basis of the profession. He suggests, for example, that “idealistic students” are being encouraged to see service users as having been “disempowered by society” and as “victims of social injustice”. In fact, the promotion of agency, self-determination and independent living continue to be at the heart of social work education and social work practice, not least in relation to current personalisation agendas. Social work is an evidence-based profession, however. When highly respected research studies such as Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level show the extent to which inequality contributes to social problems – and when even a former Conservative prime minister laments the lack of social mobility in the UK – then social workers need to recognise this in their practice. The alternative is the kind of victim-blaming and scapegoating of poor and disabled people that too often characterises current government attacks on people on benefits.

The main problem facing the social work profession at present is not dogma, but reduced funding, low political priority, excessive caseloads and growing client demand. When the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that austerity policies will push an extra 200,000 children below the poverty line, and when more than half a million people are forced to rely on food banks, then to suggest that social problems are primarily the result of people making “the wrong choices” underlines the extent to which the world inhabited by Gove and his public-school colleagues is a very different one from that inhabited by most of us, especially those needing social work support.

Professor Iain Ferguson University of the West of Scotland
Professor Susan White University of Birmingham
Emeritus Professor Ann Davis University of Birmingham
Professor Brid Featherstone Open University
Professor Vivienne Cree University of Edinburgh
Professor Nigel Parton University of Huddersfield
Professor Imogen Taylor University of Sussex
Professor Mike Fisher University of Bedfordshire
Professor Brigid Daniel University of Stirling
Professor Tim Kelly University of Dundee
Professor Ian Butler University of Bath
Emeritus professor John Harris University of Warwick
Professor Peter Beresford Brunel University
Professor Michael Lavalette Liverpool Hope University
Professor Stephen Webb Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor Jim Campbell Goldsmiths, University of London
Professor Ravinder Barn Royal Holloway, University of London
Professor Jane Tunstill Royal Holloway University
Professor Jonathan Scourfield University of Cardiff
Professor Margaret Holloway University of Hull
Professor Jonathan Parker Bournemouth University
Professor Aidan Worsley University of Central Lancashire
Professor Nigel Thomas University of Central Lancashire
Professor Hugh McLaughlin Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Brian Littlechild University of Hertfordshire
Professor Kirsten Stalker University of Strathclyde
Professor Shula Ramon Anglia Ruskin University
Professor Nina Biehal University of York
Professor June Thoburn University of East Anglia
Professor Roger Evans Liverpool John Moores University
Professor Jan Horwath University of Sheffield
Professor Elaine Sharland University of Sussex
Professor Kate Wilson University of Nottingham
Professor Marion Brandon University of East Anglia
Dr Terry Murphy Teeside University
Mo McPhail Open University (Scotland)
Linda Walker University of Dundee
Mark Smith University of Edinburgh
Di Bailey Nottingham Trent University
Ailsa Stewart University of Strathclyde
Neil Quinn University of Strathclyde
Beth Weaver University of Strathclyde
Evelyn Vrouwenfelder University of Strathclyde
Barrie Levine Glasgow Caledonian University
Vasilios Ioakimidis University of Durham
Di Bailey Nottingham Trent University
Simon Cardy Advanced social work practitioner, Wolverhampton

SWAN is currently putting together a pamphlet entitled ‘Why Michael Gove is Wrong: In Defence of Social Work’ as a contribution to the present debate about social work and social work education. We hope that this will be available before the Christmas period – more news will appear on the SWAN website.

Help stop payday loan rip-offs

There is a small window of opportunity now to influence the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will take over responsibility for this sector from April 2014. FCA is currently consulting on how it should regulate payday lenders.

A cross party group of MPs, along with major debt advice and consumer charities, is backing a charter, which will be sent to the Chief Executive of the FCA asking for much tougher regulation to stop these companies ripping people off.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign and pass on to friends and colleagues.

Sign the charter to regulate payday loans


SWAN Edinburgh event – foodbanks: where does social work stand?

Speakers include Adrian Sinfield, Profesor Emeritus of Social Policy and University Fellow (University of Edinburgh) and Ewan Walker of The Trussell Trust and the Rock Trust, Edinburgh.

A little background to the use of foodbanks in Edinburgh and the Lothians can be found in this Scotsman article from December 2012. All are welcome for this discussion – how should radical social workers respond to the foodbank phenomenon? While there is no need to RSVP, to register your interest in the event and to keep in touch about future SWAN Edinburgh events, please email

Please share news of this event widely and download and distribute the flyer attached below – see you on the 14th November!