Report: SWAN North East Conference

After an introduction on the current impact of the government cuts on the north-east by Terry Murphy (Teesside University) there were presentations from Don McDonald from our sister organisation ‘In Defence of Youth Work’  and from SWAN founders Michael Lavalette (Liverpool Hope University) and Iain Ferguson (University of the West of Scotland) on the history of SWAN and the need for radical and critical theory in the social work field.

Workshops were held on working with youth and in communities and working with an understanding that perspective of asylum seekers and refugees. There were also a number of workshops on understanding the theory and application to practice of ideas from radical and critical social work.

The meeting passed two motions on the current situation in Palestine as experienced by a former student from Durham University and on the current illegal detention in conditions of modern slavery by African asylum seekers in the Sinai desert. After lunch, which provided good opportunities for networking, the conference was drawn to a close with a presentation from Sarah Banks on the challenges of achieving ethical practice at a time of recession.

Participants came from across the region including social work and youth organisations from both the Tees and Tyne areas of the region and from Teesside, Durham, Northumbria, new College Durham and Bolton universities.

There was extremely positive feedback for the conference and a determination to build upon the SWAN network in the North of England comment on the conference are contained at the end of this report.

We also have links to relevant Websites and Open Access (Free) Journals on the themes of radical and critical practice in all its forms for  all those interested in looking further at the issues involved.

Full text of the two motions passed at the conference are as follows:

Motion One
This meeting of the Social Work Action Network (North East ) notes its solidarity with Summer Abu Zayed a former student of Durham University’s Youth & Community Work programme in her essential work with the children, young people and families of Palestine under what is currently the fourth day of a bombardment which has left at least 52 people including 11 children dead. The meeting also notes its solidarity with North East support organisations offering humanitarian and human rights support to Palestine and refutes any suggestions made that such humanitarian and social support of the Palestinian people is in any sense anti-Semitic.

Motion Two
This meeting of the Social Work Action Network (North East) calls on the UK Government to express its concern to the Egyptian Government and other Regional Governments over the human rights and safety of refugees particularly from Africa held in conditions of illegal detainment in unofficial private prison facilities in the Sinai region and subject to cruel and inhumane treatment including extorting ransoms from relatives and friends through the use of international Western Union transactions.

A full report of the conference, including radical, free resources is available to download below this article. Terry has produced a ‘rough guide’ to putting on a SWAN regional event sharing his experiences developing this conference, also below.


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