SHAPING OUR LIVES – National Network of Service Users and Disabled People

SWAN is lucky enough to have Peter Beresford once again sitting on our steering committee for 2016-17. Peter brings with him experience of using services and his tireless efforts to change disability and mental health social policies. He is a co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, a user-led network that sets the standard on inclusive involvement. It is a network that all those involved in social work should be aware of and engaged with. 

Click here to learn more.

Essential Event On Practising Social Work With Refugees and Asylum Seekers


Saturday November 19th 2016

BASW (British Association of Social Workers)

SWAN (Social Work Action Network) and UNISON

invite you to a conference hosted by and in partnership with London South Bank University:  

Social Work with Refugees and Asylum Seekers:

Defending Our Values, Developing Our Practice

LSBU, London Road, SE1 0AA


Keynote speaker: Lord Alf Dubs


Plenary sessions/workshops include:

*social work in Greece, Uganda, Calais

*understanding/using the UK law

*working with families with no recourse to public funds

*the psychological impact of being a refugee/asylum seeker

*building solidarity in the workplace

*social work and the Prevent Agenda

Refugees and Asylum Seekers face adversity before, during and after their arrival in the UK. Their complex, varied needs frequently require a wide range of health, housing and social care services with social workers having a key role in working in partnership to ensure appropriate support, where human rights are upheld and universal needs are met. This is particularly difficult with social workers working in a highly charged political environment where a racist backlash against refugees makes making a difficult situation worse.

Speakers include those who are/have been refugees/asylum seekers and practitioners who are at the forefront of this work, in the UK and internationally. Drawing on their experiences they can provide the latest advice, analysis and resources in this important and complex area.

The conference is for social workers and social work students in children’s and adult services and for asylum seeker/refugee organisations providing social work services. Also for those planning and commissioning social care provision for asylum seekers and refugees. It will be particularly useful for those who have relatively little experience of providing support for this group.


Fighting the Mega-Prisons: Privatisation Endangers Lives

SWAN offers solidarity to MANCHESTER NO PRISONS and asks you to read the following written by them:

‘British prisons are currently recognised as undergoing one of the most serious deteriorations of conditions in living memory, recently exposed as being the most violent ever recorded. In this article about the damning autumn 2015 inspection of Leicester Prison, the government is quoted as saying it will spend £1.3billion on improving the prison estate over the next five years. In reality, in November 2015 the British government announced plans to build 9 new mega-prisons across England and Wales. Far from resolving any of the prison estate’s serious underlying structural issues, these massive, minimally staffed facilities are only going to subject greater numbers of vulnerable people to their abusive conditions.

The location and construction company of the proposed new Manchester prison are still unknown, but like all of the nine new mega-prisons earmarked for construction across the country, it will be privately funded, built and run.  The rationale behind the policies of building such large private prisons (holding more than 1,000 prisoners) is that they are relatively cheap and can operate on lower staff numbers (who are on lower wages) than public sector prisons.  The escalation of the privatisation of the penal system is damaging both for staff and prisoners: there are higher recorded incidents of harm, violence, injury and death in private prisons and much greater sense of insecurity, stress and fear among all.  It places profits above the care of people.  It is time we said no to such damaging policies.  No Prisons Manchester.

Manchester No Prisons is a grass roots abolitionist organisation that is fighting against the planned mega-prison in Manchester and the expansion of the Prison-Industrial Complex generally.  The group was formed in April 2016 and is currently active in both interrogating Greater Manchester Combined Authority [GMCA] regarding their plans for the location and building of the new prison and building a local anti-prison campaign. 

Please join us: 

For more info:

Critical Social Work Bristol Event: Initial Report of the Day

A full reflection upon the day will be published soon, but for now, here is the initial report of the event:
“The title was “Critical Social Work: Threats, opportunities and building alliances of resistance.
Feedback suggests that those attending felt both informed but also uplifted by the way that the theme was addressed.  There was clearly a feeling generated that you are not alone in experiencing the social work field as pretty dire at the moment but there are things we can do – if we work together.  
Ray Jones gave a realistically alarming keynote speech about not only how things are but what is planned, as well as some ideas for the ways in which professional and service user organisations can work together to resist these developments.
Then the workshops and other plenary talks and discussions looked at what was feasible in the way of modelling better practice and building alliances of resistance between social workers and service users.  
We had Deirdre Ford, Avril Bellinger and Mark Baldwin looking in some depth at the state of play in social work education at the moment and the way in which developments there mirror those in the broader health and social care field, with privatisation of services and the social work curriculum marginalising the profession and placing service users at risk of receiving no more than residual services when they are in crisis.  
Sarah Etherington, a student social worker from Social Work without Borders provided a welcome opportunity, in her workshop, to think about we can do as a profession in the face of the racism and marginalisation experienced by refugees.  
Marie Porter and Tom & Mark Baldwin provided a well-attended workshop on effective campaigning and resistance.  
Yasmin Ishaq & Annie Jefferies talking about Open Dialogue as a helpful and empowering approach to mental health social work. 
Roger Lewis from DPAC provided not only a wonderful workshop but also gave a blistering plenary talk about the need for social workers and service users to stick together in the face of neo-liberal attacks on disabled people. 
Penny McKissock and Sharon Wiseman from the Southside Project in Bath informed us of ways in which a community organisation can work with and then recruit people from the local community to make a difference in people’s lives. This was a brilliant example of professional and service user alliance working for the good of individuals and the community. 
As with all SWAN conferences, the involvement of a broad range of people interested in social work, and especially the attendance of a number of service users, meant that we were able to have a series of dynamic discussions about the issues and possibilities, even in the plenary sessions.  
There was a fair bit of momentum built up through this event and the steering group are planning to build upon this in the coming months in the south west of England.”
The SWAN steering committee offer their thanks to the SWAN WofE regional group and the University of Bristol for hosting such a powerful event. Any attendees wishing to share their reflections, simply email

SWAN Dundee Join Forces With Stand Up To Racism


“SWAN Dundee have held our first meeting of the term within Dundee University, and are pleased to welcome lots of new faces from the first year BA and MSc students. We intend to formalise SWAN as a University society and are forging links with the local Unison branch as well, so busy and exciting times ahead.

Social Work Action Network were delighted to be invited to speak at and be a part of Stand Up To Racism’s ‘Refugees Welcome’ event in Glasgow this weekend. It was an event attended by hundreds of trade unionists, campaigners and activists in order to send a clear message: refugees are welcome here.

With the SWAN steering committee meeting taking place on the same day in England, Dundee University SWAN member Tom Adamson kindly deputised and spoke about the importance of anti-racism and fighting against oppression and austerity to SWAN and the social work profession as a whole.

Tom went on to detail SWANs recent trip to Calais and follow up trips made by Dundee SWAN – who have returned twice, with further trips planned – to deliver material aid and volunteer their time during the summer.

Tom was elected on to the Stand Up To Racism steering committee at the end of the what was a highly successful day for anti-racists in Glasgow. A huge thank you to him and we look forward to developing ever stronger ties with SUTR.

All are welcome to SWAN Dundee. Get involved locally by contacting Dundee members on facebook @SocialWorkActionDundee,

or nationally through:-

Twitter: @swansocialwork