Research: Diverse Identities in Social Work Education and Practice!

Calling all social work practitioners in the UK!! 

Please consider taking part in this survey, conducted as a pilot on diverse  

identities among social work students and practitioners in the UK. We want to  

find out specifically about whether and how social work students and  

practitioners navigate the boundaries of gender, sexuality and race which may  

not be immediately obvious to their cis-gendered, straight, monoracial and/or  

monoethnic colleagues, managers, teachers, service users, and carers.

The  survey is to help inform the development of a larger study on this topic.  

The research team is comprised of Dr Robin Sen, Lecturer in Social Work at the  

University of Dundee (he/him) and Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic, Senior Lecturer in  

Social Work at University of Sussex (she/her). The research team themselves  

have some of the diverse identities which this study explores. Ethical approval  

for the study was secured through the University of Sussex Social Sciences and  

Arts Research Ethics Committee.  

Your participation is voluntary and anonymous. The data is gathered solely for  

the purpose of this study and will never be disclosed to any third parties. It  

should take between 5-10 minutes to fill out, depending on your identity and  

information you are happy to share within the survey. You can skip any  

questions you don’t wish to answer and/or which don’t apply to you.  

https://universityofsussex.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3gWgTNzhPhHJyFE

SWAN SUPPORTS THE CRWA STATEMENT ON THE CASE FOR CHANGE.

SWAN is pleased to support the Care Review Watch Alliance response the the Case For Change, and shares it here.

The Case For Change is the first position statement released by the ‘Independent’ Review of Children’s Social Care in England, and feels remarkably familiar in its tone. SWAN are concerned that the Westminster government is seeking to reduce its role and responsibilities toward children and families – potentially moving away from state duties to uphold decent standards of living or promote safety for children. The criticism of local authority social workers is creating distance between the government and the profession, leaving space for business, social enterprises and third sector services to tender for roles. We only need to look to the NHS and education to see what has gone before – and the results:

“The Care Review Watch Alliance (CRWA) is a loose collective of people from all corners of the care community including care experienced people, care professionals, educators, researchers, social workers, foster carers and residential care providers.  We have come together for a common cause – to share our concerns about the Children’s Social Care Review in England and to challenge the DfE to ensure that this review strengthens much needed support for children and families by investing in services that promote their welfare and not allowing the system to be undermined by allowing the motive to profit to trump the motive to care.

Along with many others we were keen to see what the ‘Case for Change’ report would tell us, although we already had some trepidation with regards to how this review was constructed from the outset, including: the chair’s lack of independence and relationship with the DfE; the lack of transparency around the appointment process; the Chair’s previous publication offering a blueprint for children’s social care which basically proposed the privatisation of a public statutory service; a contract that curtails the chair from offering any criticism of government and making a case for increased funding; an exclusion of key voices in the review; and a catastrophic strategy in engaging those with care experience that caused a lot of distress.

We are saddened to arrive at the conclusion that the Case for Change has only confirmed all of our worst fears – we would have been happy to be proved wrong.  Whilst the review does identify some of the key issues that blight the lives of children and families such as poverty and social inequality, it conveniently apportions the blame on local authorities and social workers.  This well and truly lets the Government off the hook when we have seen child poverty rates increase exponentially since the introduction of austerity measures a decade ago: through punitive welfare reform legislation leading to cuts in benefits and a vicious circle for some families, as the landscape of vital provision and support has shrunk leaving many to fall through the gaps that have opened up. 

This report also exposes the injudicious decision of appointing a chair with very little experience and understanding of children’s social care.  The Case for Change is unbalanced and fails to be child focused, which could endanger children in England preventing them from being properly protected from harm, which is a basic and universal right of children and a hallmark of any civilised society. The report also fails to highlight any positive aspects of the current system and its successes in supporting children in care. This makes its intentions very clear: to denigrate public sector services for children and families and replace them with private companies, often global multinationals with no interest in the lives of children that fill their coffers.

This ‘once in a lifetime’ review has begun by repeating what many have been saying for decades and what few can argue with. But where is it taking us? CRWA believe the Review’s likely destination will leave children and families high and dry. We have seen the government wash its hands of its statutory responsibilities for health, education and adult social care. The ‘Case for Change’ suggests that children and families will be next.”

SWAN statement of support for the #StopSIM Coalition

The High Intensity Network (HIN) and associated ‘Serenity Integrated Mentoring’ (SIM) model of care has been increasingly widely promoted by NHS England since 2016. According to HIN’s website, the issue that the SIM model seeks to address is the “intensive demand on police, ambulance, A&E departments, and mental health crisis teams” from “a small number of ‘high-intensity users’ who struggle with complex trauma and behavioural disorders”[1]. This group of service users are people who have not committed a crime but are frequently at high risk of suicide and self-harm.

In response, the HIN/SIM model promotes an intensified form of multi-agency working between the police, and emergency and NHS mental health services. This involves joint working between mental health professionals and police officers, with police access to medical records and involvement in planning and multi-professional intervention with this group of service users. As critics of HIN/SIM have noted, this involves a “blurring of boundaries between therapeutic (health services) responses and coercive (police service) responses”[2]. Furthermore, many of the intervention strategies promoted within HIN/SIM involve punitive behavioural approaches that may intensify harms and distress for those with histories of complex trauma[3].

In response the #StopSIM Coalition, a campaigning network of mental health service users and allies, has formed to challenge the HIN/SIM model. The Coalition has identified and highlighted a range of significant issues including:

  • Human rights concerns, in particular SIM strategies that may legitimise withholding of potentially lifesaving treatment from service users by agencies including A&E, mental health, ambulance and police services.
  • Lack of meaningful service user involvement in the design, monitoring and implementation of HIN/SIM.
  • Data protection concerns with regard to police access to service users’ medical records.

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) shares the significant concerns about HIN/SIM raised by the #StopSIM Coalition and outlined above. SWAN fully supports the aims of the #StopSIM Coalition which are to:

  • Halt the rollout and delivery of SIM with immediate effect, as well as interventions operating under a different name, which are associated with HIN.
  • Conduct an independent review and evaluation of SIM in regards to its evidence base, safety, legality, ethics, governance and acceptability to service users.

For SWAN, initiatives such as HIN/SIM represent a top-down ‘fix’ to reduce user demand on mental health and other services in the context of over a decade of swingeing austerity cuts that have severely restricted availability of and access to what remains of supportive forms of mental health provision. We argue that what is needed are not increasingly coercive interventions and gatekeeping of limited services, but significant investment in community-based and user-led forms of social and therapeutic support to address the needs of those experiencing distress related to histories of trauma (and any other form of mental distress).

For more information and to support the #StopSIM Coalition: stopsim.co.uk

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Steering Committee

24th May 2021


[1] https://highintensitynetwork.org/

[2] https://profallanhouse.co.uk/should-the-police-be-included-in-mental-health-crisis-teams/

[3] https://www.psychiatryisdrivingmemad.co.uk/post/behaviourism-bpd-and-the-high-intensity-network

Demands from the Care Review Alliance

Care Review Watch Alliance

Our demands:

  1. We call on the government to replace Josh MacAlister with a suitably qualified Chair of the review. MacAlister is not sufficiently experienced in the areas under investigation and does not have demonstrable independence from government. 
  2. We demand the government places the lived experience of children and families at the centre of the Review process, facilitating genuine consultation with and involvement of Experts by Experience. 
  3. We urge the government to formally involve social workers, the largest professional group working within the children’s social care system, in the Review process. 
  4. We call on the government to include within the scope of the Review consideration of the impact of draconian long-term cuts to funding of children’s social care and powers to recommend that funding shortfalls in children’s services are reversed.
  5. We urge the government and the Review to promote a vision of children’s social care with a public service and not-for-profit ethos, informed by values of user participation and democratic accountability.

Who Are The Care Review Watch Alliance?

Following the formation of a group of people with many and varied interests in and shared concerns about the #CareReview, there is now a coalition called the Care Review Watch Alliance.

Whilst we have space on the SWAN website, and some of us are SWAN members, we are a stand alone group and our resources are ourselves! We are not funded by or affiliated with any other group or organisation. On this page you will be able to to find a list of members, short bios, our Demands statement and resources for everyone to use.

Follow us on Twitter @CareReviewWatch

You can watch our videos on You Tube – simply search Care Review Watch Alliance

You can also email us though SWAN – swansocialwork@gmail.com

Care Review Watch Alliance

SWAN is proud to be part of the Care Review Watch Alliance – a broad coalition of people and groups who oppose the Review of Children’s Social Care, chaired by Josh MacAlister, as it is currently constituted.

This page will be dedicated to sharing information, events, demands and motions that critique the evidence and agendas that form the Care Review.

Researching resistance in practice!

Social justice has long been recognized as a core value of social work practice, a value which only increased in importance, if one is to consider the effects of the advancing commodification of social services, the immense social consequences of the Corona-virus, and persistent inequalities.

In their practice, however, social workers are routinely faced with various barriers, which prevent them from practicing ethically. As a response, some social workers engage in acts of resistance and dissent, meaning the daily conduct, reflections, and decisions of social workers that disrupt and challenge systemic discriminatory practices. Currently, one SWAN contact in Germany is in the planning process for a research study, aiming to explore and map such practices of resistance of self-identified ‘resistant’ or ‘dissenting’ social workers.

Methodologically, this will be done by conducting interviews according to the model of the interview to the double, an in-depth structured interview technique aiming to illuminate and articulate practice. (Estimated time to complete: 1,5-2 hours)
In terms of time-scale, the interviews would ideally take place between June and July 2021. They can be also conducted via Zoom or corresponding platforms.

In case this description fits your practice, and you are willing to volunteer your time, expertise, and knowledge, you are invited to participate in this research study. Please feel free to contact SWAN on swansocialwork@gmail.com, and we will link you with the researcher.