The Social Work Action Network Constitution

(Agreed at SWAN National Conference, Bath September 2009)

1. SWAN – What we stand for.

The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is a radical, campaigning organisation of social work and social care practitioners, students, service users, carers and academics, united by our concern that social work practice is being undermined by managerialism and marketisation, by the stigmatisation of service users and by welfare cuts and restrictions. While recognizing that social work is one of the mechanisms through which the State controls the behaviours of poor families, we believe nevertheless that social work is a valuable activity which can help people address the problems and difficulties in their lives. Many of these difficulties are rooted in the inequalities and oppressions of the modern world and good social work necessarily involves confronting the structural and public causes of so many private ills.

2. Aims and Objectives.

i) To promote a model of social work practice which is rooted in the value of social justice, which seeks to advocate alongside, and on behalf of, carers and service users and which values both individual relationship-based practice and also collective approaches;

ii) To challenge the domination of social work and social care services by managerialist perspectives and practices  which prioritise budgets, targets and outcomes over the needs of the people who use these services;

iii) To bring together practitioners, students, carers, service users and academics through regular conferences and campaigning activities in support of the above objectives, and to strengthen the radical voice within social work practice, education and wider social policy debates;

iv) To work alongside existing social work, social care and carer and service user organisations, including UNISON and BASW, to promote strong collective organisation and, wherever possible, to campaign jointly around specific issues.

3. Membership

Membership of SWAN shall be open to social work and social care students, academics, carers and service users, and to anyone working in the field of social work and social care who supports the aims of SWAN (as outlined in section 2 above) and who pays an annual membership fee to be agreed at annual conference.

The annual fee shall be agreed each year at national conference. For the period September 2009 to September 2010 the membership fee is £10. The fee for students and service users is £5. Asylum seekers are eligible to free membership.

4. SWAN structure and organization

SWAN is a democratic, grass-roots, membership-controlled organization, which aims to support and promote both local and national initiatives, in line with SWAN’s aims as outlined in section 2 above. As a matter of both principle and resource considerations, any additional layers of organization should be kept to a minimum.

SWAN is committed to the principles of anti-oppressive social work and, therefore, membership of far-right, Nazi organizations like the BNP is incompatible with membership of SWAN.

5. Conference

i)  Annual conference is the sovereign body of SWAN, where policies are debated and agreed upon, and where elections take place.

ii) A national steering committee of 12 people will be elected each year by SWAN Supporters at conference and will be accountable to conference.

iii) In addition, conference shall elect the following office bearers:

a) National Convenor

b) Deputy Convenor

c) Treasurer

Join Swan Now

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.