Explaining the Social Work Solidarity with Refugees Event.


In March 2016, SWAN and the European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW) jointly called for a Social Work Day of Solidarity with Refugees. Initially listed as the 5th of June Europe-wide, this event has grown into a weekend long international action, with various countries taking part at some point across the 4th, 5th and 6th of June.

The purpose of this Social Work Solidarity Day is to offer support to refugees and crucially to gather information and evidence on their situation. This information will form part of a series of national and pan-national social work reports which will be presented to the relevant parliamentary/governing bodies. Gathering together all European evidence, we intend to present a report to the European Union Parliament in September.

We offer solidarity through our presence, by bearing witness to the horrors inflicted upon refugees, and by raising money and material aid to take to refugee ‘hotspots’. 

The Report

As social workers, we want the report to:

  • consider the material conditions that refugees are enduring
  • take note of unaccompanied children
  • hear and report the stories of split and divided families
  • record the mental health issues and the impact of trauma in people’s lives
  • report and record human rights issues
  • give the refugees a voice

We recognise that this has to be done appropriately. Each convoy/group needs to coordinate with the grassroots organisations, agencies and refugee groups to ensure that we are placing the needs and dignity of refugees at the forefront of our action.

The various regional and national reports should be submitted to SWAN, who will coordinate to put them into the appropriate European/other national large scale reports. 


Sponsors for this event have emerged quickly, with:

  • Joint Universities Council Social Work Education Committee (JUC-SWEC),
  • Labour Social Work Group, Social Work Without Borders (SWWB),
  • Association of Professors of Social Work (APSW) and
  • Stand Up to Racism (SUTR)

offering their support for the UK action day immediately. It can now be announced that this event has the backing of the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW). Such tremendous support means huge impact and increased awareness. 

Any organisation wishing to add their name as a sponsor of this amazing event can email swansocialwork@gmail.com

The UK Day of Action June 5th

Specific Action will vary according to international location. 

The aim of the UK Solidarity Day is to send delegates to Calais and Dunkirk Camps. We will take money and material aid, meet refugees and gather the information for our report.

Any group of social work practitioners, current and retired, students or academics wishing to join the UK convoy is advised to begin local organisation now. You are advised to raise money for travel including the channel crossing. Regional groups are asked to gather material aid or raise money to take to the camps, through what ever fundraising you can. SWAN has a Regional Coordinators Page available on this website, and we ask that an email address and/or telephone number be made available by every group taking part, in order that others in your area wishing to join you can contact you directly. 

On the 24th April, SWAN is running a session at the SUTR/Trade Unions For Calais Summit being held in the University of London Student Centre on Malet Street. This will be our main national organising event for the Solidarity Day prior to travel. We are asking each regional group to send at least 1 or 2 representatives to discuss travel, task division on the day, to hear from our partners based in Calais and Dunkirk and to answer any questions. Please find the summit’s leaflet attached below – tickets for the event are £5 waged and £2 unwaged. 

International Action

In Boston Massachusetts, there are plans to protest outside a refugee detention centre.

In parts of the Balkan region, plans are being made to protest at the (now closed) borders.

Where possible, we are inviting social workers across the globe to go to their local ‘hotspots’ with material aid and money, in order to gather information about the plight of refugees. If you are planning to organise action, please make contact with the grassroots organisations working alongside refugees in the ‘hotspots’ that you have identified. Please liaise with them to discuss appropriate action, distribution of aid and funds, and ensure that the dignity of the refugees is made paramount. 

Any questions, please contact SWAN on swansocialwork@gmail.com, or search the Regional Coordinators Page for a group near you.

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