Curating our past, creating our future

As BASW turns 50 in 2020, we are planning a range of activities to explore the past, present and future of social work from 1920 to the present day.   The project will raise the profile and understanding of the profession and reveal the diverse voices of social workers and people who experience, work with and care about the profession. 

We are working with social workers and people with lived experience on a range of activities throughout 2020 and beyond across a range of themes.

Key activities to celebrate BASW's 50th anniversary - and 100 years of social work

  • The BASW Future of Social Work e-book project // This project will gather diverse voices on the topic of where social work has come from, where it is going and where it needs to go. We are calling out for submissions by 31 December 2020 that engage with hope and the possibilities for the future.
  • Social work timeline // BASW is currently developing a virtual "timeline" of social work across the UK, its key milestones - alongside important moments from BASW's history.
  • Heritage, culture and the arts // We are developing community engagement partnerships with museums and galleries, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the National Trust to work together and contribute a social work perspective to their exhibitions and to develop our own. In 2020 we will create and open a static heritage exhibition at BASW head office, Waterloo Street, Birmingham as well as some changing exhibits for members, staff and visitors to enjoy.
  • Social work collections // We are calling for archives, artefacts, objects that signify social work to them; an object that tells a narrative about the individual experience, both positive and negative.
  • Oral histories of social work // An exciting opportunity to showcase a range of voices from across our profession and its history.
  • Virtual heritage trails // These are curated and led by members in their own town or city. The trails are centred around a theme they wish to choose relating to the history of BASW (50 years of the association) or 100 years of Social Work.
  • Anniversary edition of the British Journal of Social Work (BJSW) // Developed by Researcher Anne Cullen and a steering group of BASW members and editors of the BJSW past and present. A free to access 50 year anniversary virtual edition of the journal will be released in 2020.  Journal articles relating to policy and legislative changes as well as changes to the profession from 1970 to the present day will be included. 
  • Professional Social Work magazine // A souvenir 50th anniversary edition will be published in summer 2020 which will be free to all BASW members.

Around the UK


  • SASW is developing a series of social work films and discussions across Scotland.
  • Independent art cinemas across Scotland will show a number of social work films including 1976 ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Oranges and Sunshine’. Talks from filmmakers and social workers are also planned.
  • The team is currently in discussions with Edinburgh University around mapping historical sites for the history of social work education.

BASW Cymru 

BASW Cymru is currently working on a timeline of key events in Wales in the last 50 years and oral histories project recording and collating experiences of social workers in Wales today. Welsh speaking BASW staff member Meryl Williams taking this project forward.  The key theme is the welsh language and the impact this has made on social work practice in Cymru.

BASW Northern Ireland

The “Voices Project” telling the story of social work during the Troubles will continue to develop as part of the heritage project, reaching out through discussion and creating further dialogue.

BASW NI will also be producing a timeline of social work over the last 50 years and through joint work with the Irish Association, events, project work and publications will explore the development of professionalism and professional identity now and over time.