Together in Social Work. Social Work values and relationships: working across boundaries and borders.

Friday 21st June 2019.

Titanic Belfast, Titanic Quarter, Belfast


Download the full programme here

Registration and refreshments for BASW AGM (Annual General Meeting)


BASW Annual General Meeting, (MEMBERS ONLY) 

9.00am - 11.00am. 

BASW UK conference registration, refreshments and EXHIBITION

From 10am, exhibition including Harry Venning

UK conference opens at 11.15 am

Brothers Ben and Josh McHugh

11.15 - 11.25am

World Champion Irish Dancers from Co Tyrone


Together in Social Work. Social work values and relationships, working across boundaries and borders.

11.25 – 11.40am        

  • Jude Currie, Children and Families Social Worker
  • Gerry Nosowska, BASW Chair


Alex Kane, Political Commentator

11.40 – 11.55am       

Reflections on Collaboration and Division


Social Work and Refugee Support - established to support Syrian refugees arriving into NI

11.55 – 12.15pm       

  • Michele Janes, Barnardo’s and Aideen McLaughlin, Extern


What is the role of social workers in promoting cohesive and integrated societies?

12.15 – 12.50pm        

  • Albert Heaney, Director Social Services Welsh Government
  • Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults at the Department of Health
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scotland
  • Seán​ Holland, Chief Social Worker at Department of Health NI

Panel discussion chaired by Alex Kane.





Workshops 1.45 – 2.30pm     

1.  Voices of Social Work Through The Troubles

  • Led by Professor Jim Campbell, UCD, Carolyn Ewart BASW NI and Patricia Higgins, NISCC.

The purpose of the workshop will be to improve participants knowledge of the ground-breaking BASW commissioned research.

The aims of this workshop will be to share the stories of social workers as they practiced across NI throughout the four decades of armed conflict.

To hear the social work voice and learn from how practitioners supported each other and continued to deliver a client centred, non-sectarian social work service despite the most extreme and violent of situations.

Participant engagement:

  • BASW members who participated will share their personal accounts through videos and guided discussion.
  • We will share BASW’s plans to host an oral history archive and how workshop participants will have the opportunity to get involved themselves.
  • We will share next steps

UK relevance:

It is very important for us to reflect upon and learn from our recent history. To be able to learn directly from those involved in significant world events is rare, but we have such an opportunity now. BASW understood the importance of archiving these incredible voices and proudly sponsored this research. We are in a unique position to be able to share that knowledge with our current members. The learning about resilience, professionalism, identity and the strength of holding onto social work values and ethics has relevance wherever one works or lives.

2.  BASW England Charter for Disabled Adults and Social Workers

  • Graham Price, Reshma Patel and Mark Lynes - the service user and carers group within BASW England.

The workshop will explore the BASW England Charter for Disabled Adults and Social Workers which states “we disabled adults and social worker, will strive for relationships that are respectful, honest, transparent and consistent”.

The workshop will be based upon the guiding principles of the charter which are:

  • We will use the social model of disability and draw on social approaches to distress, whilst recognising unique identities and experiences
  • We will take a rights-based approach – based on the United Nation convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Equality Act and the Care Act
  • Social workers will promote Independent Living as the corner-stone of wellbeing
  • We will always value the voice of people with lived experience of disability
  • We are committed to opposing discrimination and to promoting social justice
  • We will not be satisfied till everyone has full and equal citizenship.

The workshop will explore the application of the charter in working in partnership with adults with lived experience in a purposeful and meaningful way. It will also consider how attendees can apply this on both an individual, organisational and national level across the UK including good practice examples.

3.  Gypsy and Traveller Awareness Raising

  • Tom Tom Hendry
  • Sonia Dixon
  • Rhiannon Jones

The workshop will support professionals in developing an understanding of working with Gypsies and Travellers.

The workshop facilitators are community members themselves in Wales and/or have a professional background of working with the community. We want to explore people’s experiences and ask that people attend the workshop with an open mind.

It is a collaboration between The Association of Gypsies and Travellers in Wales and the Travelling Ahead Project at TGP Cymru.

  • Who are Gypsy and Travellers? We set the context with some information about terminology and a brief background to Britain’s nomadic communities.
  • Why do Gypsies and Travellers want to be nomadic? Why do they want to live in caravans (trailers) even if they don’t travel? Why should they be treated differently to other people? We explore the concept of ‘equity’ and the idea that treating all people the same is not equal.
  • Working with Gypsies and Travellers. What are the practicalities of approaching, engaging and working with people from the Gypsy and Traveller communities? How do you approach an unauthorised camp?
  • Question and Answer. We will end with an opportunity for a frank discussion.

Tom Tom Hendry worked as an Equality Officer for a number of years before recently setting up the Association of Gypsies and Travellers in Wales. As a Gypsy man who grew up living roadside, making the transition to work in the third sector while maintaining his cultural identity, he has a wide range of experiences and knowledge to help others understand the needs of his community.

Sonia Dixon is a Gypsy Traveller who volunteers as a community trainer, delivering a training package which she helped develop to a wide range of professionals.  Sonia has provided powerful, real life stories to highlight the challenges faced by her community.

Rhiannon Jones set up and managed a playgroup on a large Gypsy and Traveller site in Cardiff for 9 years before joining the Travelling Ahead project in 2014.  The project provides advice and advocacy to support families from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in Wales along with promoting rights and participation and tackling discrimination.


2.30 – 3.00pm 

Workshops 3.00 – 3.45pm

4.  From Damascus to Dungannon and Aleppo to Armagh

  • Dara Toal, Senior Practitioner
  • Ann Ibrahim, Key Worker
  • Carol Kearney and Aoife Donnelly, Extern.

This workshop outlines how Barnardos Refugee Support Service helps resettle and integrate refugee families coming to NI through the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme. Syrian families have been arriving through this scheme since 2015 and have been resettling in towns and cities across Northern Ireland. This workshop examines the support frameworks in place and the partnerships developed with other statutory and voluntary services.

This workshop also explores the challenges families face and the success they have enjoyed during this period, and details the important role key workers have played in nurturing integration and developing the families’ independence.

5.  The role of Social work and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) challenges and dilemmas.

  • Amy Stringer
  • Diana Harris
  • Molly Abraham
  • Nushra Mansuri

This workshop covers families and individuals whose immigration status becomes insecure, become destitute because they never had, or lose the right to work and access benefits. 

Such families who have dependent children can seek support under country specific legislation imposing a duty on Local Authorities to provide support and accommodation to ensure immediate needs are met.

Find out about NRPF and how the social work profession is responding. The barriers, challenges and dilemmas and discuss suggestions on how to address these.

Hear about the work of BASW Immigration Asylum Trafficking special interest group and how to join with us in our efforts to influence BASW and national policy makers, campaigning and in your daily work practice.

Debate the dilemmas of budget constraints and the very real drivers for management and the ethical challenges that face the profession and social work practitioners on a daily basis when working on the front line.

Moreover, we will voice what it means for the daily life and lived experience for service users. The long-term poverty, NHS charging, no free school meals and a serious case review of a child subject to NRPF who died from malnutrition.

This workshop a will be a unique opportunity to examine  and learn from the practice of those who deliver the  work on a daily basis, with information, case studies and you will leave with knowledge, references and information from the statutory,  voluntary and  academic sectors.

6.  Communities of practice and social worker wellbeing

  • Sarah McMillan and Alistair Brown, SASW (Scottish Association of Social Work)

The session will link to the BASW/SWU (Social Workers Union) and Bath Spa University Professional Working Conditions research, and will explore how SASW is facilitating various peer group, reflective and critical practice sessions.

The Working Conditions research highlighted pressures faced by social workers across the UK, which are having an impact on attrition, migration and job satisfaction. Social workers in Scotland who took part in the research rated peer support very highly as a protective strategy. We have been exploring how to reclaim peer spaces for emotionally led reflective practice and theory led Communities of Practice models as well as other tools such as mindfulness to support wellbeing.

This workshop will:

  • Consider the importance of social workers being supported in the face of decreased funding, increased demand and an expectation that we become more resilient.
  • Explore how social workers can strengthen professional identity and access resources such as mindfulness, while being clear that we should not attempt to absorb unmanageable caseloads no matter how resilient we might be.
  • Discuss the Community of Practice Model as a means of promoting well-being and enhancing CPD.
  • Promote active engagement with the professional association as a vehicle to articulate their ethical response to current challenges and help shape the social work narrative more positively. 


Social Work Across the UK: Legal and Policy Differences from a Scottish Perspective.

4.00 - 4.15pm 

Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scotland

Final session and close.

4.15 – 4.25pm 

Dr Ruth Allen, CEO BASW.

Download the full programme here