Global Letter of Protest

“We welcome the global social work conference to take place during summer, 2018. This is a very important conference and it is great that it is hosted in Dublin, giving us an opportunity to discuss, learn and network.

However, we are deeply concerned about the registration fee being imposed. A fee of between €575 and €775 is far too high and does not even include the cost of accommodation. In Dublin, this is presently on average in excess of

€130 each night. Travel costs are also excluded.

The fee reflects neoliberal values and not the more progressive values of social work. Service users, students, retired practitioners and current practitioners simply cannot afford these costs. Neither can many academics, including those retired. The event risks becoming an elitist showcase gathering for the privileged.

We are also concerned about the way the inflated costs exclude those based in ‘austerity’ hit countries such as Greece, and further afield, in the Global South. Colleagues from low income countries with rising levels of inequality and budget cuts will be entirely excluded because of the fees, accommodation and travel costs; similarly, many in Ireland are still suffering from hardships because of the bail out of the banks and continuing ‘austerity’. The homeless numbers are also rising daily. As social workers we constantly deal with the consequences of social inequalities. The conference, its costs, values and politics must reflect all of these issues.

We are, therefore, calling on the Scientific Committee and associated conference organisers to immediately and substantially reduce the registration fee in order to make the event more inclusive”.

7 November 2017


Signed by

Dr Somaya Abdullah, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Hakan Acar, Liverpool Hope University, England & (in a personal capacity) executive member European Association of Schools of Social Work

Donna Baines, Chair and Professor, Social Work and Policy Studies, University of Australia, Sydney, NSW Australia

Neil Ballantyne, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, School of Health and Social Sciences, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Professor Sarah Banks, Durham University, UK

Dawn Belkin Martinez, PhD, LICSW, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston Liberation Health Group, USA

Professor Peter Beresford, Shaping Our Lives & University of Essex, England Rupaleem Bhuyan, PHD, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Canada

Christine Black-Hughes Ph.D., LICSW, Minnesota State University, Mankato, South Africa Dr Pieter J Boshoff, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa.

Prof Petro Botha, Associate Professor, UNISA, South Africa

Kathy Boxall, Professor of Social Work and Disability Studies, Edith Cowan University, Western, Australia

Mr. Nngodiseni Jimmy Budeli, University of Venda, South Africa

Professor Ian Butler, FAcSS, Honorary Professor, University of Exeter, England

Jorge Calbucura, Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Sweden

Melisa Campana PhD, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina

Ben Carniol, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University (Toronto), and Scholar-in-Residence, Indigenous Field of Study, Faculty of Social Work, Laurier University (Kitchener, Ontario), Canada

Borja Castro-Serrano, Faculty member, Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty, School of Social Work, Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile

Chris Chapman, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, York University, Canada

Dr Clement Chihota, Social Work Educator, Bethlehem Tertiary Institute, New Zealand

Dominic Chilvers, Social Work Educator, Bethlehem Tertiary Institute, Member of Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, New Zealand

Marcia B. Cohen, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus, University of New England, School of Social Work, USA

Lynda Coley, Educator/fieldwork Placement Coordinator, Bethlehem Tertiary Institute, Aotearoa New Zealand

Emer Conneely, Social Worker, Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Galway, Republic of Ireland

Miriam Conry, Social Worker, Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Galway, Republic of Ireland

Lesley Cooper, Professor of Social Work, University of Wollongong 2500, NSW, Australia

Dr. Shirley E. Cox, ACSW/LCSW, Professor Emeritus, Brigham Young University, School of Social Work, USA

Dr Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Salford, England Sofia Dedotsi, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University, United Kingdom

Filipe Duarte, PhD candidate, Carleton University, School of Social Work, Canada

Dr Glynnis Dykes, Deputy Head of Department (Social Work), University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Dr. Griffin Epstein, Professor of Social Service Work, George Brown College, Canada Ms Merlene Esau, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Diane S. Falk, Professor of Social Work, Stockton University, USA

Professor Brid Featherstone, Head of Department (Behavioural and Social Sciences), University of Huddersfield, UK

Iain Ferguson, Honorary Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, University of the West of Scotland, Scotland

Dr Sandra B. Ferreira, Head of the Department (Social Work), University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Jorge Arturo Sáenz Fonseca, Presidente Junta Directiva, Colegio de Trabajadores Sociales de Costa Rica

Birgitta Forsberg, Lecturer in Social Work, Department of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Sweden

Dr Rachel Fyson, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham, UK

Dr Paul Michael Garrett, NUI Galway & member of Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Republic of Ireland

Scott Grant, Lecturer in Social Work, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

Professor Mel Gray, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Australia

Surinder Guru, Lecturer, University of Birmingham, Country, England Dr. Hefin Gwilym, Lecturer in Social Policy, Bangor University, Wales Dr Neil Henderson, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Marcus Herz, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Malmö University, Sweden

Dr. Dorothee Holscher, UKZN, Durban, South Africa

Mary Hurley, Lecturer, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland

Professor Jim Ife, Professor Social Work, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Australia

Magnus Israelsson PhD Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work, Mid-Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden

Jessica H. Jönsson, PhD, Senior lecturer, Department of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Sweden

Angelika Kaffrell-Lindahl, Lecturer in Social Work, Dep. of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden

Masoud Kamali, Professor, PhD, Mid Sweden University, Sweden

Dr. Emily Keddell, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work University of Otago – Te Whare Wananga o Otago, Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand

Dr Anneline Keet, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Dr. Christine Labonté-Roset, Alice-Salomon University, Berlin, Germany

Kin-Kwok LAI, Senior Lecturer Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Hong Kong

Marcus Lauri, Ph.D. Political Science, Department of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Sweden

Professor Michael Lavalette, Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, Department of Social Work, Care and Justice, Liverpool Hope University & Social Work Action Network (SWAN), UK

Dr. Vesna Leskošek, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, Ljubljana, Slovenia Prof. Bogdan Lešnik, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Social Work, Slovenia Michelle Lefevre, Professor of Social Work, University of Sussex, England

Professor Marcel Londt, Head of Social Work, University of the Western Cape, South Africa Professor Walter Lorenz, formerly Free University of Bolzano, Italy

Karen H. Lyons, PhD, CQSW, Emeritus Professor, International Social Work, London Metropolitan University, England

Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic, University of Sussex, UK

Professor JC Makhubele, University of Limpopo, South Africa Professor MDM Makofane, Unisa, South Africa

Dr Tish Marrable, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Department of Social Work & Social

Care, University of Sussex, England

Dr Mbazima Mathebani, UNISA, South Africa

Kgosietsile Maripe, University of Botswana, South Africa Natalia Hernández Mary, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile

Day Marira, Student, Social Work Action Network (SWAN), Galway, Republic of Ireland

Kali Marsh, Community Counsellor, Early Intervention Progam, Central Toronto Youth Services, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dra. Leticia Arancibia Martínez, Teacher and Researcher, School of Social Work Escuela de Trabajo social, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile

Dr Poppy Masinga, Lecturer, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Francine Masson, Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Tatiana Matulayová, Associated Professor & Head of Department, Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Roslyn McConnell, Social Worker, Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Galway, Republic of Ireland

David McKendrick, Lecturer in Social Work, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland

 Dr Kenneth McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University, England

Jane McPherson, PhD, MPH, LCSW, Director of Global Engagement & Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Faculty Fellow, Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Carolina Muñoz Mendoza. Investigadora predoctoral, Instituto de Gobierno y Políticas Públicas (IGOP), Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Catalunya-España

Goutham M. Menon, Ph.D, Dean & Professor, Loyola University Chicago, School of Social Work, USA

Dr. L.D. Mogorosi, University of Venda, South Africa

Christine Morley, Associate Professor/Head of Social Work & Human Services, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Gianinna Munoz-Arce, Senior Lecturer, Alberto Hurtado University, Chile

Liesbeth Naessens, lecturer and researcher, University College Odisee, Brussels, Belgium

Ana Ngamoki, Senior Advisor, Rehabilitation Programmes and Interventions, Department of Corrections/ Ara Poutama Aotearoa, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand

Cristian Leyton Navarro, Researcher, Latin American Center for Rural Development, Chile

Vibeke Bak Nielsen, Social Worker, Phd. Researcher & Educator, Aalborg University, Sociology and Social Work, Denmark

Carolyn Noble, PhD, Associate Dean (Social Work), ACAP, Sydney, Australia Sybille Nonninger, Grundsatzreferentin, Landesjugendamt Mainz, Germany

Gorana Panić, doctoral student, University of Jyväskylä, Finland/Bosnia-Hertzegovina

Manohar Pawar, PhD, Professor of Social Work and President, ICSD Member, Institute for Land, Water and Society School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

 Dr Donna Peach, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Salford, England

Professor Bob Pease, Honorary Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University and Adjunct Professor, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of Tasmania, Australia

Maria Pentaraki, Queens University Belfast & Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Northern Ireland

Nevashnee Perumal, Lecturer, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa  Dr Roshini Pillay, Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Pia Ringø, PhD, Assistant professor, Departement of Sociology and Social Work, Denmark

Jennifer M. Poole, MSW, PhD, Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Dr Edmarie Pretorius, Head, Social Work, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Laura Racovita-Szilagyi, PhD, MSW, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN, 37315 USA

Niina Rantamäki, Project Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Finland

Angie Raphalalani, Practicum HUB Administrator, South Africa

Dr John Victor Rautenbach, Head of Department & Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work and Social Development, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Michael Reisch, Ph.D., MSW, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice School of Social Work, University of Maryland, USA

Taly Reininger, Assistant Professor, Universidad Andres Bello, Chile

Nol Reverda, Professor of Social Work, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social Studies, Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Griet Roets, Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium

Dr. Steve Rogowski, Social Worker, Work Action Network/Labour Party, England

Rudi Roose, Prof. of Social Work, Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University, Belgium

Cláudia Mônica dos Santos, Social Work, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Brasil

Lydia Sapouna, College Lecturer, School of Applied Social Studies. University College Cork, Republic of Ireland

Méabh Savage, Lecturer in Social Care, Waterford Institute of Technology, Republic of Ireland

Professor Catharina Schenk, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Mohd Shahid, Professor of Social Work, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, India

Graeme Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Wolverhampton, England Dr Gurnam Singh, Principal Lecturer in Social Work, Coventry University, UK

Dr Linda Smith, Lecturer, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland Roger Smith, Professor of Social Work, Durham, England

Dr Tony Stanley, Chief Social Worker & Assistant Director, Birmingham City Council/Birmingham Children’s Trust, England

Pedro Gabriel Silva, Assistant Professor, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro Portugal

Dr Ilze Slabbert, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Prof. Silvia Staub-Bernasconi, Technical University Berlin/Alice-Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Germany/Switzerland

Dr Paul Stepney, Adj. Professor of Social Work, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland Dr Marianne Strydom, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Professor Pius T. Tanga, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Dr. Sonia M. Tascón, Lecturer, Social Work and Community Welfare Western Sydney University Sydney, Australia

Dimitra – Dora Teloni, Associate Professor, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Department of Social Work, Greece

Prof Adrian D. van Breda, University of Johannesburg & and President of the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions, South Africa

 Juan Saavedra Vásquez, School of Social Work, Universidad del Bío-Bío, Chile

Paula Vidal Molina PhD, Professor Asistent, Coordinadora Núcleo de Investigación y Desarrollo Estado, Ciudadanìa y Democracia. Trabajo Sociall/ University of Chile, Faculty of Social Sciences (Social Work), Chile

Jijian Voronka, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Windsor, Canada

Tanya Voss, Assistant Dean for Field Education, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin, United States

Frank T.Y. Wang, Professor, Graduate Institute of Social Work, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Bill Whitaker, Professor Emeritus, Boise State University, Oregon, USA Elizabeth Whitmore, Professor Emerita, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Olivia Brosnan Williams, Social Worker & Social Work Action Network (SWAN), Galway, Republic of Ireland

Professor Charlotte Williams, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

Report from the ‘Social Work and the Grenfell Tower Tragedy’ discussion evening.


A panel of activists, residents, academics and workers addressed the meeting.


There was analysis on the context of mature austerity and the impact of cumulative cuts to local authority and housing budgets leading to this event; the death of working class people in their own homes.


Anna Gupta, Professor of Social Work at Royal Holloway University, talked about the horrendous circumstances whereby children in the richest borough in the UK could burn to death. She drew links with the decisions to save money on type of cladding on the Grenfell Tower block and years of the council and Tenancy Management Organisation ignoring local residents and their warnings about fire safety. She commented that the absence of an organised, swift and human response from social services, has some connection with how social work has often been reduced to an individualised focus, ill equipped to respond to a community wide catastrophe. She discussed how analysis of environmental and social factors (poverty, housing precarity, immigration status and other factors) were often secondary factors or absent from children and family social work assessments, which instead focused on parental harm. She made an appeal for social workers to rediscover community social work and for social work students to call for this to be covered on social work courses.

Moyra Samuels from the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign talked about the impact of the fire on the local community which, in addition to the survivors of the tower, was left traumatized. For the ‘Justice 4 Grenfell’ campaign and survivors of the fire, Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council has become known as the ‘Rotten Borough’. She talked of how, as a teacher, she is aware of how social workers in the context of austerity are overloaded, under resourced and were unsurprisingly unable to respond effectively to events in the community. She discussed the social cleansing of the working class afoot in London, asset stripping of community resources in North Kensington (including the local library and college), the absence of an organised response from the state and the swell of spontaneous ‘social work’ from the community themselves providing assistance with food, clothing, accommodation and more. Justice 4 Grenfell are calling for housing of the same standard or better for those who have lost their homes in the fire; to hold to account the sorely limited Moore-Bick enquiry and to seek that those council leaders and officials – who sought to save money for a council in surplus over the lives of the residents – are brought to justice and jailed.

Mari and Dave from the Latimer Community Art Therapy group also spoke about the purpose and value of art therapy. They discussed how they and others set up a free service to help children begin to address the horror of the events they had witnesses in the fire, while at the same time – very belatedly – starting to work at arms lengths with social service. They talked about the art pieces created by the children and young people to express themselves. They also discussed their experiences of being temporarily locked out of the local community venues by Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation, when they expected support for the work they were doing.

Glyn Robbins, Housing Worker and member of Defend Council Housing, juxtaposed how vilified social workers would have been if the blame for this tragedy could have been pinned on them rather than media reaction to members of the establishment. Glyn noted that while we could be at a turning point for social housing after fresh commitments given to non-market housing by the Labour and Conservative party leadership, things were far from certain to improve. He talked about the broken promises of Communities Minister, Sajid Javid, who claimed that the residents of Grenfell and other social housing tower blocks would have ‘whatever it takes’ to keep them safe, reneged upon almost every day since.  He talked about our collective responsibility as social workers and public servants to keep Grenfell Tower and its legacy on the agenda when it fades from media attention.

A challenging debate followed with plentiful contributions and questions: was Grenfell was an example of ‘Corporate Murder’?; how were social workers perceived by the community around Grenfell Tower?; questions of how to rejuvenate a divided, underfunded social work in the face of dire social need; how to bring back the spirit of community social work; how social workers and housing officers might work in partnership together when often pitted against one another; how to keep the debates alive about defending public services and working class communities alive.


All those present were invited to the Grenfell Tower Silent Protest in Kensington, this Saturday on 14th October and were encouraged to keep the debate about Grenfell, Social Housing and Public Services alive in their workplaces and communities. Those from different community &housing campaigns and social work organisations pledged to work together.


One of the most telling contributions was from a social worker who lives in North Kensington (though who practices in another borough). She looked at the signs for free art therapy when walking through her local community and longed to put up a sign saying ‘free social work’. Why is state social work, so divided from the communities of which it should be a part?





From Neoliberalism to Mental Wealth: Demanding Radical Change in MH Policy at the Labour Conference 2017.

 The first speaker, Denise McKenna from mental health service user/survivor campaign Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), argued powerfully that the Tory government is brutally denying and minimizing the extent of the mental distress experienced by service users to justify cuts to services and benefits. She argued that, though users were rightly critical of psychiatric services in the past, recent years have seen a profound shift away from positive elements such as counselling that aimed to improve service users’ quality of life towards short-term ‘work-cure’ therapies to force claimants off welfare and cut services.

Following this Paul Atkinson from radical therapists network the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy (ACP) argued for a paradigm shift in mental health policy and practice. He emphasised the social and political causes of distress such as traumatic experiences, exploitative workplaces and a discriminatory society. Consequently, he argued, we need social change to address these causes and genuine service user control to ensure holistic support for survivors.

Denise and Paul’s talks stimulated a lively discussion about how to achieve these aims amongst a diverse audience including activists from Disabled People Against Cuts, Free Psychotherapy Network, Social Work Action Network (SWAN), MHRN and ACP, as well as Labour conference delegates, including councillors and trade unionists.

One of the central aims of the meeting was to discuss how to influence Labour Party policy on mental health. Several speakers argued that though reversing mental health cuts is crucial Labour needs to go beyond a ‘more of the same’ biomedical approach. There was resolve to campaign for radical change in Labour’s approach to mental health with the aim of a policy that promotes more holistic and user-led forms of support and ways of understanding mental distress. Proposals for taking this forward included taking the proposals from this meeting into wider debates at the Labour conference but also beyond that into Labour branches, trade unions and Momentum groups.

Others noted the importance of organizing against mental health service and welfare cuts and continuing to strengthen our alliances of resistance. Umbrella networks such as the Mental Health Activist Alliance that bring together survivors, disabled people, mental health workers, trade unionists and community campaigners have already played an important role by organising a number of actions and lobbies against psychocompulsion. Attendees resolved to continue to build and broaden these emerging networks and campaigning activities to achieve the radical changes that are urgently needed in mental health and welfare policy and practice.


For more information about the meeting and campaigners’ demands:

 Rich Moth

Social Work Action Network (SWAN)











SWAN joins SWWB in condemning G4S and Brook House detention centre.

Our government’s insistence on giving profit making contracts to a company whose international reputation is extremely concerning beggars belief. Examples of cruelty abound, our asylum system is not fit for purpose.

Please read and share the attached statement, and consider what this means for social workers assessing and engaging with those going through the asylum and refugee system. We must protest such inhumane treatment.

Free Open Event: ‘Social Work and The Grenfell Tower Tragedy’ – London Oct 10th.

Event: ‘Social Work and the Grenfell Tower tragedy’
Time and date: 7pm-9pm on Tuesday 10th October 2017
Location / address: Keyworth Lecture Theatre A, Keyworth Centre, Keyworth Street, SE1 6NG
Nearest tube / busElephant & Castle is just metres from the campus and offers both the Bakerloo and Northern lines. A large number of buses travel to and connect in the Elephant and Castle area from across London
This event featuring speakers and discussion will look at the events surrounding the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s context of austerity in economic and social policy, poverty and the response of social work and social workers.
The event will feature:
– Anna Gupta, Professor of Social Work, Royal Holloway University of London on the political context of inequalities and how in the richest borough in the country, children burnt to death in public housing.
– A representative from the Grenfell Tower Action Group 
– Possibly one of the social workers who participated in the aftermath of the tragedy
In the immediate aftermath of the incident in June this year, SWAN issued the following statement: 
Please spread news of this event widely across your networks! Please contact us on with any questions.


Factsheet For Practitioners And Campaigners – No Recourse To Public Funds

Produced by a wonderful SWAN member who has researched and practised in this area, this fact-sheet is designed to help you initially navigate terminology and legislation. Whilst all attempts should be made to access legal advice, this is a great start for those who feel their practice is being compromised through a lack of knowledge, and pressure to reduce access to the welfare state.

In Scotland, SASW are interested in your stories on this topic. SWAN will also share any experiences that you have had.

Please read and share this as widely as you can!

Confronting The Rise In Racism – SUTR Event October 21st 2017


Events over the summer have seen the horrific legitimisation of overt racism and fascism across the globe. Despite Britain remembering the 70th anniversary of Partition in India, we are seeing the dramatic rise of hate along faith-based, colour-based and ethnicity-based lines. Stand Up To Racism are hosting an important conference in London on the 21st October, and you can buy low cost tickets here.  SWAN is an affiliate member of SUTR and we will do all we can to promote this event.