‘Changes in Social Work: our response’

The first session looked at The Social Work Reform Board (SWRB), its recent report and proposals.  Hilary Burgess, Social Policy and Social Work Subject Centre and a member of the SWRB talked about the proposed Professional Capabilities Framework.   Roger Kline, ASPECT, the professional association and trade union representing professionals working in education and children’s services and a member of the SWRB talked about the proposed Employers Standards in the context of the current climate.  He gave examples of how cuts could be challenged in the workplace and emphasised the point that ‘professionalism’ and trade unionism should not be counter posed to each other.  A response from the seminar was sent into the consultation process which included a statement of the SWAN national position.

 In the second half of the day Roger Kline gave an overview of persistent racism within the social services structure. He also drew attention to the GSCC website public ‘disciplinary hearings’ section which, in contrast, has an over-representation of ethnic minorities.

We then had Lee Jasper from BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts – look them up, they are booming!) to energise and inspire us into action.  Lee outlined some of the effects that the disproportionate cuts will have on BME groups. Lee argued for an active alliance with black social workers and suggested BARAC and SWAN work together to mobilise social workers to highlight and campaign against the long and short term affects of these cuts.  We ended by debating the ethics of civil disobedience and direct action as legitimate forms of protest… it was suggested that the violence of poverty is perhaps the most dangerous form of violence and can paralyse communities for generations… debate and action to be continued! 

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We want to develop a network of service users, practicitioners, academics and students to support radical and progressive social work. We need a social work that is ready to challenge oppressive practice, that means working collectively across the country and internationally to advance Social Work.