Swan Plymouth’s inaugural meeting was a great success! Find out more!


Together we conducted a really positive meeting, sharing knowledge and experience, including previous SWAN groups and campaigns. 

An overview of our meeting:  

  • We spoke about what we wanted from a SWAN group and what worked/did not work previously
  • The difficulty of engaging with practising social workers, and why
  • Brief discussion surrounding the Children and Social Care Bill and the negatives of outsourcing services 
  • Ideas of campaigning, our experience of this and noted points from regional SWAN workshops
  • We discussed possible campaign focus, settling on Homelessness, which has been prevalent locally and nationally; considering recent stats released and discussing the homelessness reduction bill 
  • Considered campaign focused groups and venting groups, devised from advice given from other SWAN groups
  • Possible meeting times/places, to keep encouraging a wide range of people to attend
  • Possible speakers that could benefit the campaign

For more information, just email us on swansocialwork@gmail.com.

United Against Welfare Cuts, And Reform: Report From The Lobby of The BPS Conference


In November, Swan was heavily involved in hosting a one day conference on Mental Health and Welfare Reform, highlighting the psycho-compulsion characteristics of the current UK welfare system.  As part of a continued and growing protest against the role of professional health bodies in this system, campaigners from across Merseyside and even as far afield as London gathered outside the annual BPS Clinical Psychology Conference at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool on Wednesday 18th January.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) is the professional body for UK psychologists and has been working with the government on aspects of its welfare reform programme. Please find attached the full report, and do share with your colleagues. 


2017 SWAN CONFERENCE: Tickets Available Now!


Teeside holds a particular importance for our conference this year. Teeside has the highest proportion of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, and is amongst one of the most deprived areas. We are honoured to work alongside The Other Perspective, a refugee social enterprise, who will share a meal with us on Saturday evening in the student union, and provide the catering. Given the heavy involvement of Swan in anti-racism campaigning and social work in Calais over the past 18 months, this is a fitting partnership.

The conference will be held at the School of Health and Social Care at Teeside University, and there is parking on site for cars and coaches. There are lots of hotels and B+B options to suit most budgets in the local area (Travel Lodge/Jurys Inn etc.), and the campus is an approx. 11 minute walk from the train station.

The key themes for this year will be refugees and racism; anti-privatisation; welfare reform and international perspectives. Those of you who have been before will understand how powerful, energising and inspiring a Swan conference is. Those of you who have not, you are welcome and will not be disappointed.

Keep an eye on the website for updates, and feel free to email swansocialwork@gmail.com with any questions. We always do our best to help.

Book Your Tickets Here!

New Plymouth Swan Group Open To All! Thurs 26th Jan.

A mix of students and practitioners have come together to found the Plymouth Regional Swan Group, and they are very keen for any service users, practitioners, academics or students to come along to their first meeting. When people are experiencing crippling workloads and benefits cuts designed to keep us from gathering together, it is inspiring to see new SWAN groups appearing. They are always energising. 

The location is confirmed as the Kinsman Room, upstairs in Sherwell Church, North Hill (PL4 8ER). Come along at 7pm on Thursday the 26th of January, for a friendly informal get together, in the spirit of solidarity. 


For more information, contact swansocialwork@gmail.com


Swan Ireland and Swan UK Stand With The Home Sweet Home Campaign

SWAN (Social Work Network) Ireland, a member of #IrishHousingNetwork, supports #homesweethome and #ApolloHouse.

Home Sweet Home launched a Super Action in December, in response to the homelessness crisis in Ireland. Members across the IHN have been offering support, in an attempt to focus attention upon the welfare of homeless people and meet their basic needs. Homelessness across the UK has ballooned under the Conservative government, with homeless people dying on our streets, as well as being humiliated and excluded. Here is the SWAN Ireland statement:

“We believe the actions of homeless people, activists and volunteers in occupying and running Apollo House are a valuable and necessary contribution to providing homes for homeless people while also forcing the government to address the issue of homelessness and the broader housing emergency. Apollo House has become a symbol of people power, a space of dignity and justice and we stand with them in solidarity.

Swan Ireland supports the Irish Housing Network’s (IHN) campaign to recognise the importance of safe, affordable, secure and culturally-appropriate housing, a home, as a human right. As social workers and social care workers, we see first-hand how the brutal cuts to services over the past nine years have impacted on the lives of thousands of people in Irish society and placed them at increased risk of homelessness. We see in particular the effects on; lone parent families; young people leaving care; people with disabilities; people with mental health difficulties; people with addictions; members of the travelling community and people seeking asylum, to name but a few. 
In Issue 3 of SWAN Ireland’s online bulletin Frontline, a number of contributors offered specific evidence of the numerous challenges faced by such groups when trying to access the resources needed to obtain a home, including; lack of access to sufficient income, gender inequality, carelessness of the state, and institutional racism. In our work on the frontline with users of social services, we see how the already marginalised position of many individuals within these groups places them at further disadvantages when accessing accommodation because they do not have access to the range of resources needed to obtain safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing. As a result of this, they experience increased levels of injustice and powerlessness which have devastating effects on their health, well-being, and self-worth and on their lives and their family’s lives also.

SWAN Ireland view a home as an essential aspect of equality; one which influences the nature of relationships that people have with themselves and with other members in Irish society. A home not only offers someone a place of safety and security, it offers people a safe place where they can produce relations of love and care, which are fundamental to our health and well-being as relational and interdependent beings. Homelessness therefore represents an affective injustice because people who are homeless are prevented from accessing the resources needed to support the giving and receiving of love and care. This injustice furthers their sense of loneliness, loss of self-worth and loss of dignity as human beings. 

Given the fundamental role that a home plays in people’s lives, SWAN Ireland is deeply concerned about the lack of appropriate action taken by the government to deal effectively with the increasing numbers of homeless individuals and families (Hearne 2017).This inaction undermines the commitments made by government across a broad range of policy areas, including children and families, housing and homelessness and social inclusion. Instead it exacerbates the conditions that people with low levels of resources are living in, resulting in their unequal, inhumane and degrading treatment. Such treatment directly contravenes the ethical codes and value base that underpin the work of social work and social care professionals. 

It is for the reasons outlined above that we support all of the demands put forward by the Home Sweet Home campaign.” 

Please follow Home Sweet Home on Facebook

Swan Dundee: Calais Film Launch Night A Massive Success

With a turnout of approx. 50 people, on a Thursday night this far into December and at 5pm, the commitment to its launch was very impressive. 

Attendees heard a fantastically moving and powerful presentation from a lecturer at Dundee and a Syrian nationa, who has lost 18 family members, killed by the Assad regime; and as always Colin Turbett’s talk was very well received. Swan Dundee’s film about their trip to Calais last summer is both emotional and compelling.

MH and Welfare Reform Conference Report and Videos

There they discussed and built campaigns against the impact of draconian welfare reforms on claimants with mental health needs.

The event was organised jointly by the Social Work Action Network (SWAN), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Merseyside, SOS Liverpool and Merseyside Trades Union Council (TUC), and followed a similar event in London in March 2016.

The conference heard that while mental health services are facing big funding cuts the government has increased spending on draconian welfare reform initiatives targeted at people with mental health issues. The government’s reform agenda suggests unemployment is a psychological failure of the individual rather than the economy. It proposes ‘work therapy’ as the cure.

Plans include co-locating mental health services and job centres, placing therapists in Jobcentres, and employment advisors in GP surgeries. Health and social care professionals are being required to focus on employment-related targets with people with mental health needs. There is concern that benefit claimants will be forced to engage with these work therapies and sanctions applied to those who refuse.

The conference brought together welfare claimants, mental health service users/survivors, disabled people, mental health and welfare workers, social workers and trade unionists who are opposed to these ‘psycho-compulsion’ proposals. The aim was to develop awareness of these welfare reform policies and to build campaigns against them.

Speakers included Dr Jay Watts (Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy), Roy Bard (Mental Health Resistance Network) and Dr Phil Thomas (writer, formerly consultant psychiatrist & academic) amongst many others. Videos of the opening plenary speakers are available below.

On Jan 18th, the British Psychological Society conference in Liverpool was lobbied by campaigners from this event, and a full report can be found here

A conference report will be published shortly. If you would like a copy when available or any other information about the event please contact mhwelfarereform2016@gmail.com

For now, please watch the videos available here, and share with anyone interested. 


Advanced Notice: Stand Up To Racism Demos 18th March 2017

Public demonstrations of tolerance and diversity, against fascism and hatred, are more welcome than ever. SWAN’s longstanding allegiance with Stand Up To Racism is an important part of our equality statement. We shall be part of a social work bloc at both venues for the UN Anti-Racism Day demonstrations. See here.

Consider joining us, and move the rhetoric from a constant focus upon fascism to a focus upon the feelings of the majority –  solidarity and tolerance. 

Details on location and timings will be posted closer to the date.


CRSW Journal Special Issue: Psychopolitics in the Twenty First Century

The special issue was inspired by the conference of the same name, which was co-sponsored by SWAN, at Liverpool Hope University in June 2015.

The special issue features articles or reviews from leading SWAN activists and supporters Peter Beresford and Ann Davis, as well as notable figures in the mental health field such as David Pilgrim and Diana Rose. The papers explore a range of themes including politics and social movements in mental health, Mad Studies, anti-psychiatry, critical perspectives on mental health policy and strategies of resistance to welfare reform. There are also articles from activist and consciousness raising groups involved in mental health campaigning from Critical Voices Network Ireland and reVision to Psychologists Against Austerity.
The full contents list and links to papers are available here: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/crsw/2016/00000004/00000003 
Please email Rich at mothr@hope.ac.uk if you would like further information about the special issue, subscribing to this journal or accessing individual articles. 
Guest editors of the special issue: Rich Moth, Helen Spandler, Mick McKeown and Joe Greener

Social Work Without Borders Respond to Home Office Guidance on Applying Section 67 in France

Below you can find their initial response, endorsed and co-signed by BASW and SWAN as well as SWWB. With so many of the most vulnerable children missing since the demolition of the Jungle, the concerns of social workers regarding the abject refusal of the government to enable good and ethical practice need sharing loudly and widely:

Social Workers without Borders has viewed the Home Office Document : Guidance: Implementation of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 in France v2. 

We wish to express our concerns regarding some of the processes outlined in this guidance, as follows;

1. Stage 2 Best Interest Determination: “Where there is evidence that a detailed Best Interest Determination with the intention outlined above has already been conducted by another social worker or child protection expert for a child, you may choose to accept this evidence in lieu of conducting an assessment”.

Response: There has been Best Interests Assessment conducted by social workers from social workers without borders and also from social workers working with Safe Passage / Citizens UK.  However, there are currently no mechanisms in place in order for these Assessments to be immediately shared with the Home Office. 

2. Stage 2 Best Interest Determination: “Social workers should, wherever possible, lead the Best Interest Determination, with input from UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) staff as necessary. There may occasions where, due to operational constraints, the Best Interest Determination interview will be conducted by UKVI staff. In such cases, at a minimum, a social worker should review the information collected and make a recommendation on best interests based on this information”.

Response: We would express deep concerns over such assessments being conducted by anyone other than an experienced social work practitioner.  Assessment is not just a means of reaching a decision, it is a process whereby a skilled practitioner is able to obtain information sensitively from a young person, particularly those who have experienced trauma, and ensure that a child or young person is given every support in being able to relay their current experiences.  Many young people who have suffered trauma may seek to minimise its effects, as a coping strategy.  We are concerned that Home Office staff have neither the training nor experience to recognise such defensive mechanisms and this may affect the information they receive and ultimately the Best Interest decision being made.  In addition, there are serious risks to young people in the context of human trafficking and we would query whether Home Office personnel have received the necessary training in order to be aware of risk factors and safeguard children and young people appropriately. Will the Home Office be explicit in how many social workers have conducted these assessments and how many have completed by Home Office staff. 


3. The language contained in the Report:

Response: Children and Young People are consistently referenced throughout the document as ‘individual’ rather than ‘child or young person’. This terminology could result in a view being adopted that seeks to negate the particular needs of children and young people by effectively transposing an adult identity.  

Finally, we are deeply disappointed that the Government has chosen to forsake the proposals agreed in the ‘dubs amendment’ and have tightened the criteria of this amendment, in respect of the children and young people in France, to exclude young people over the age of 12 who are not from Sudan or Syria, and to exclude all young person’s under the age of 15.  The exception to this arises when a young person is at risk of ‘sexual exploitation’.  We would consider that all vulnerable young persons, who are stating they will continue to try and seek sanctuary in the UK, are liable to be at risk from sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and enforced labour.

Co-signed by Social Work Without borders; British Association of Social Work and Social Work Action Network

November 2016. 

Frontline Newsletter From Swan Ireland: Read 2016’s Excellent Edition!

The newsletter focuses significantly upon the broken system supposedly supporting children in care, and promotes the work of the Care Leavers Network Ireland. There is also an excellent quote about President Elect Trump….enjoy!


VIRGIN CARE: Profiting from Vulnerability.


As reported by Community Care, Virgin Care are set to run over 200 services across Bath and North East Somerset comprising social care for some of that region’s most vulnerable adults, children’s community health and continuing healthcare. SWAN stands in solidarity alongside service users, carers, social workers and social care workers in demanding that the government acknowledge that care for vulnerable people should not be an opportunity for profit, for business, for aggressive commercial expansion. The state has a duty to protect it’s citizens and is best placed to provide well-funded consistent care. 

SWAN are in touch with Bath Against the Cuts for more information and will be releasing a longer statement soon. In the meantime, please contact Bath and North East Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to express your horror and ask how they expect to protect standards and working conditions:

Stand Up For Social Workers! Comedy Event – London 8th Dec

An invitation to Stand Up For Social Workers

The UWL Social Work Society warmly invite you to join them for an evening of comedy, with Stand Up for Social Workers.
Date: Thursday 8 December

Venue: Students’ Union, University of West London, St Mary’s Road, Ealing W5 5RF. Click here for directions.

Time: Comedy starts at 7.00pm. Join us from 5.00pm for food and drinks in the Students’ Union Bar (cash sales only)
Ticket price: £10 general admission (£8 for students or Alumni Card holders) Friends and colleagues welcome!

About Stand Up for Social Workers
Stand Up for Social Workers are Debstar and Jim McGraw, who perform stand up routines on the everyday lives and challenges of social workers. Now on their third UK tour they’ve performed in over 25 cities, as well as guest performances at the Scottish Social Work Awards in March this year and the JSWEC in Milton Keynes in July.

Read their recent feature in The Guardian.