Educators and Researchers Stand up for Social Work!!


“Noting the opposition of social work students and other concerned groups, this meeting of social work educators from all parts of the island of Ireland

Condemns plans to introduce a ‘graduate placement scheme’, or similar renamed scheme, because it:

   1.    Implies that newly qualified, CORU registered social workers, are not fully qualified and entitled to take their place in the workforce at the appropriate salary level.

   2.   Devalues the credibility of CORU accredited social work programmes, including the fact that students complete lengthy assessed placements as part of their professional education.”


The Social Work Action Network Ireland welcomes the passing of this important motion and sees this as a positive step in the building of strong alliances between students, educators, researchers and practitioners throughout all of Ireland in the fight against the attempt to deskill and demoralise social work in Ireland.

SWAN’s response to Clegg’s new mental health funding

We might be more cautious. First, we have seen similar promises in the past, like the 2011 Government paper boldly titled ‘No Health Without Mental Health’. Secondly the treatment offered is the ‘one size fits all’, short term CBT (and its variations) rather than longer term support as part of the package. Thirdly, the austerity driven Government policies continue to cut and close the network of community based, service user led organisations that people need and value.

All this against the background of the economic measures that can only increase the multiple layers of deprivation that create the anxiety, depression and dis-ease that brings so many to the attention of mental health services.

Our response is to build our work around the Mental Health Charter. It is just short of 300 signatories which include names from South Africa, Greece, Ireland and Germany, from individual service users and their organisations such as Shaping our Lives, DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts) and reVision Liverpool. There are practitioners: mental health social workers, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, counsellors and psychotherapists and academics. And there is a group of people who signed at a SWAN stall at the 2014 Durham Miner’s Gala.

We are also organising day conferences and meetings. These have already been held in Bristol, Oxford and Durham. In November there are meetings planned in London, Wakefield and Manchester and the London meeting reflects the breadth of concern. Speakers include Peter Beresford of Shaping Our Lives, June Sadd, a mental health survivor and trainer plus individuals from the organisations  DPAC, Cooltan (a mental health and arts charity), GALOP (a LGBT anti-violence and abuse charity) and the Movement for an Adoption Apology which highlights the pressures on vulnerable mothers. Helen will be speaking from the strikes in London Borough of Barnet against privatisation of adult social care services. Practitioners will include Catriona, working with children in schools, Paul, an inner-London AMHP and Mike on ‘surviving social work’.  

The Mental Health Charter looks to creating ‘resources of hope’ and that this will come from our joint campaigns and struggles. You can join us by signing the charter – go to and coming to our meetings.

LONDON MEETING: ‘THE CRISIS IN MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES’  Saturday 8th November. 10.30am – 4.30pm, John Barnes Library, 275, Camden Road, N7 0JN. A flyer is attached below.

WAKEFIELD 15th November and MANCHESTER 22nd November. There will be details to follow on this website.

In memoriam – Rona Woodward

Rona WoodwardRona was an inspiration in so many ways to those of us who had the privilege to know her. She was a superb colleague – supportive, collegiate, well-organised, always accessible and insightful. She was a wonderful tutor, much loved by students, especially female students for whom she was a superb role model. Above all, though, Rona was a fighter, an activist for whom interpreting the world was never enough – her passion was to change it.

She played a huge role in building the Social Work Action Network at local and national level, through her writing, organizing and conference presentations. She will be known to many of you as the co- author of the book Radical Social Work in Practice. For several years, she was a leading activist in the University of Stirling University and College Union branch. For Rona, the fight for women’s liberation and for a classless society were inseparable. Almost until she lost consciousness, she was cursing the Tories for trying to take revenge on the tens of thousands of working-class people in Scotland who had refused to pay the poll tax!

The world is a better place as a result of the life of Rona Woodward. And the best tribute we can pay her is to step up our efforts to cleanse this world of poverty, inequality and oppression.

Iain Ferguson

Letter to Sir Albert Bore – underinvestment in Birmingham children’s social care

Simon Cardy (West Midlands SWAN), Caroline Johnson (Birmingham UNISON) and Godfrey Webster (Birmingham Against the Cuts) write:

“We are writing to seek clarification of the additional investment in children’s social care over the next three years. We welcome this significant funding which will help to ensure the stabilisation of frontline services to safeguard children in the city.

We are seriously concerned that this intended funding is insufficient in regard to the level of need in the population, that it fails to close Birmingham’s relative and historic underfunding of children’s social care and that it is being largely funded by cuts to universal and targeted children’s services. It has been reported that the Commissioner for Children’s social care in Birmingham, Lord Norman Warner, considers the level of investment to be inadequate and that three times that amount is required to ensure the necessary improvement of social care services. (source: Chamberlain Files 28th July 2014)…”

They await a response from Sir Albert Bore. Download a copy of the full letter below.

Public meeting: No to Privatization – the future of children’s services in Birmingham

The Problem
Birmingham’s beleaguered children’s service have come under repeated assault from Ofsted and senior politicians and is seemingly unable to lift itself out of a crisis. Some say this has been in its own making.
The Government and appointed experts have suggested that Birmingham is ‘too big’, it has been poorly led and it needs a clean break from the past. Julian Le Grand and his review team said that constant re-organisations had been demoralising and that there was a ‘lack of external challenge’.
Birmingham does not take as many children into care as other authorities, but in doing do may be placing more children at risk? If families are to be supported how do making massive cuts in preventive services help?
There has been a historic under-spend in children’s services compared to other cities with comparable problems.  The council say they have put back £9m, but are coy about the fact that this has only been found at the expense of cuts elsewhere in children’s services.Julian Le Grand
Social work vacancy levels are running at 25% with many experienced staff leaving to work in neighbouring authorities.
The Solution
The Con-Dem coalition is pushing for all children’s services to be outsourced and wants Birmingham to lead the way. In April the Government proposed that council’s could delegate almost all of their social services functions relating to children. There was a massive outcry to the idea that G4S and Serco might be in charge of child protection. 70,000 people signed a petition and 37 leading experts wrote to a national newspaper in protest. In June the Government announced an apparent U-turn but the redrafted regulations allowed profit-making companies to set up a ‘non-profit making’ subsidiary.
What Next?
How do we oppose privatization in all its disguises?  Should we entertain non-profit making organisations or are they the thin edge of the wedge? Is Birmingham’s Labour Group giving up on children’s services every remaining a directly run service and why?
This meeting will give a platform for the opposition to and the arguments against privatisation to continue to be heard. All welcome.
About the Speakers
Sue White is a professor at the Institute for Applied Social Studies, at the University of Birmingham and was one of a number of leading academics who signed the petitioning letter published in the Guardian in May ( that made front page news.  Sue’s latest book with Brig Featherstone and Kate Morris, ‘Re-imagining Child Protection: Towards humane social work with families’, is published by Policy Press.
Helga Pile is UNISON’s National Officer for social care and social work.  Helga is a frequent media commentator and represented UNISON on a wide range of social work issues including the Social Work Reform Board.

For more information and a background briefing see the document attached below for download.

SWAN Solidarity Message in support of protests in Hong Kong

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is a radical, campaigning alliance of social work practitioners, service users, educators and students committed to social work for social justice.

We fully support Hong Kong citizens in their struggle for democracy and political rights and in their opposition to attempts by the Chinese government to impose vetted candidates in forthcoming elections.

In recent days protests organized by Occupy Central have brought the financial district of Hong Kong to a standstill and shown great courage and determination in resisting attacks by riot police, with people protecting themselves from tear gas and pepper spray with umbrellas. We condemn the violent actions of the Hong Kong police, and call on the British government to revoke licences for exports of the British-made tear gas that is being used against protestors in Hong Kong.

We welcome the news that one thousand Hong Kong social workers and social work students gathered in solidarity with the protests earlier this week. We also fully support strike action by social workers, teachers and other Hong Kong workers against police brutality and for democratic and political rights.
SWAN National steering committee
2 October 2014

Umbrella Movement – Hong Kong students and people fighting for democracy

The occupation was kicked off by students who occupied and blocked Civic Square, a public place where large demonstrations were held in the past. Students also held a week long boycott of their classes. This was in protest at the announcement of China’s National People’s Congress that the Beijing government will pre-select candidates standing in 2017 for the post of Chief Executive in Hong Kong.  This is the first time that a general election will be held in Hong Kong for this post.Umbrella Movement

Three student leaders were arrested and the ‘Occupy Central’ movement, led by middle class elite joined the occupation. ‘Occupy Central’ was formed a year ago on as a pan-democratic movement putting forward political reform proposals.  A mass occupation of the financial heart of Hong Kong is also planned in protest at the position of the National People’s Congress.

Tens of thousands of people have joined the occupation. Unarmed students and people are raising their hands to demonstrate that their protest is peaceful as they face pressure from police with riot shields.  Police have targeted protesters’ faces at close range with heavy pepper spray. Riot squads armed with shields and helmets have fired tear gas at students and protestors who are defending themselves with umbrellas.

This violent reaction of the police has enraged the Hong Kong people. The teachers’ union, the social workers’ union and the Confederation of Trade Unions have called for a general strike to protest at the suppression and support the student movement. In the meantime more people are joining the occupation and it is spreading to different districts in Hong Kong.

Although the Western media have coined the phrase ‘Umbrella Revolution’ students and people in Hong Kong did not initiate this protest with the aim of over turning the government. This movement has succeeded in drawing many people to join a protest to ‘revolutionise’ civil society in Hong Kong by creating a new form of protest where large numbers of people demonstrate their views in a disciplined and cooperative way through occupation. The protests are ongoing as CY Leung, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong government, is still not willing to negotiate with the students on their demands of real universal suffrage.

Please show your support on the following Facebook page: Calling for International Support for Democracy in Hong Kong.

The SWAN National steering committee have also issued a message of solidarity with the Hong Kong protestors here.