Chair's Blog

Aug
02
2017

Guest post: The renaissance of critical and radical social work?

The latest guest post on my blog is by Filipe Duarte, a PhD candidate in Social Work at Carleton University in Canada. His thesis, entitled The Impact of the Politics of Austerity on Social Citizenship Rights, examines the impacts and outcomes of austerity on social citizenship rights with a focus on Portugal.

The trigger for my invitation to Filipe to write a post for this blog was the publication of ...

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Jun
22
2017

Guest post on the Grenfell Tower disaster

The theme for the first day of the Boot Out Austerity walk was housing, and one of the speakers at the morning rally, before we set off to walk from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, was Glyn Robbins. Glyn works in housing and has also campaigned in this area for many years. He writes a superb blog on housing matters, and having read his lates...

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Nov
24
2016

The value of talking

It was quite an evening last night in Leicester, with the roar of the crowd coming through the open windows of Room 1.28 in De Montfort University’s Edith Murphy House. Leicester City went on to beat Club Brugge 2-1, while I had a very enjoyable time meeting with the BASW Leicestershire branch.

It was a return for me of sorts, as I worked in Leicester (and Leicestershire) straddling the 90s and 00s, and had been involved with an earlier incarnation of a...

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Sep
27
2016

Social action and the media

I am very pleased to be welcoming a guest post by Malcolm Jordan, a member of the executive of the Social Workers Union (SWU). Malcolm represents SWU on the Social Workers and Service Users Against Austerity alliance and he is good at coming up with bright ideas. The one he is writing about here is bold and ambitious and it would be tremendous to see this media project take off. I shall let Malcolm explain.

 

Social action and the media...

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Aug
18
2016

Government needs to rethink plans to tackle the current housing crisis

On 31st July I read the welcome news that the Right To Buy scheme had been ended in Scotland, a move that was applauded by the Scottish Federation of Housing Federations among others, given the shortage of social housing it had created. Unfortunately, the social housing fire sale is continuing apace elsewh...

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Aug
16
2016

The politics of asking people what they want

My last two posts have concerned BASW’s partnerships with service users and this one will continue this theme. It will also touch on the issue of social work and politics.

It is very hard to avoid politics at the moment, in the wake of the Brexit vote, the subsequent changes at the top of the Conservative Party and the battles that are raging in the Labour Party. BASW took a position with regard to the EU referendum, with a motion being passed at the AGM i...

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Jul
25
2016

A guest post from the grassroots: learning from the perspective of parents and those living in poverty

In my blog post of last week, I mentioned a presentation by Social Workers and Service Users Against Austerity at the JSWEC conference on 14th July. This was given by members of the anti-poverty organisation, ATD Fourth World and Peter Unwin from the University of Worcester and a recent member of BASW Council.

Amanda and Dann of ATD Fourth World have written a blog post about the presentation, and have kindly agreed that I can share this as a guest post here....

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Jul
21
2016

BASW to strengthen its partnerships with service users

“We will strengthen our partnership with those who use social work services …

We will listen to and promote the voice of service users and their ability to influence social work and other relevant policy and services …

We will promote social justice, human rights and respect for individual dignity and worth in all of our work and in partnership with others, particularly service users and their organisations.”

So we say...

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Apr
05
2016

Social workers and service users against austerity, side by side for social justice

The damaging effects of the austerity policies initiated in 2010 and extended since last year’s election are becoming ever clearer. The Independent may have become an online-only newspaper but it is still producing some hard-hitting reporting, witness its recent account of what is happen...

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Jan
29
2016

Social work practitioners and service users at the summit

It’s the last Friday in January and if I don’t get a move on I’ll have fallen at the first hurdle. Surely, I thought at the outset of 2016, writing at least one blog post each month can’t be that difficult…

It’s not that there isn’t much to write about. Yesterday I attended the launch event of Social Work for Better Mental Health, heavily featuring a certain Ruth Allen, co-author of the publications accompanying ...

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Dec
24
2015

Merry Christmas, it's been quite a year!

Well, it’s been quite a year! And I want to end it by wishing everyone that is reading this a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. A big thank you too to all BASW members, for helping to make the Association ever stronger, and bigger - a sweepstake has begun in the office for the date when we’ll hit a membership of 20,000, and at the current rate it won’t be that long coming.

Performing the professional task of social work is intrinsically ...

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Dec
18
2015

The rebirth of anti-racist perspectives in social work

Earlier this week I attended an important and inspiring event entitled Black and Anti-Racist Perspectives in Social Work, organised by Dr Josephine Kwhali, Dr Gurnam Singh and their colleagues at Coventry University.

In a small group discussion in the morning, two questions were posed: Why have we stopped as a profession talking about anti-racist social work? And, how can we reconstitute an anti-racist social work project?

Both tough quest...

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Oct
21
2015

Guest post from vice-president of the Danish Association of Social Workers, Niels Christian Barkholt: Knowledge sharing in social work

In June this year I attended a Nordic social work conference in Helsinki, and I was fascinated by a presentation given by Niels Christian Barkholt, the vice-president of the Danish Association of Social Workers, about the use of ‘knowledge’ in social work. The ideas he sought to convey, about the need for professionals to reclaim the production, ownership and use of knowledge from governments, and about how knowledge is transmitted, learned and put into prac...

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Sep
02
2015

BASW Branch Activity

I had planned to decorate my flat in August but a few things got in the way, not least our work in connection with functions and resources of the College of Social Work. I did get as far as a bit of uncluttering. This included throwing out an enormous pile of New Statesman magazines, which I had subscribed to for a few years after it incorporated the social affairs weekly New Society. This proved to be quite time-consuming, as it was hard not to leaf t...

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Jun
19
2015

Supporting social workers in Iceland

I attended the 2nd Joint Nordic Social Work Conference in Helsinki last week, its theme being ‘Courage in Social Work’. It was an excellent conference, though it was depressing to hear about the challenges to the Nordic model of welfare, with cuts on the way in Finland following their recent election - and I have woken up this morning to hear about the Danish election results and the prospect of similar moves there.

Social workers in northern Euro...

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Jun
17
2015

End Austerity Now

Resting in the beer garden of a lovely hotel in the Leicestershire countryside, after a busy BASW Council meeting today. Leafing idly through the Guardian, I just came across this cartoon by Ros Asquith in the education section. We are all affected by these damaging austerity policies, teachers, social workers, nurses, other public service workers; thos...

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May
14
2015

Strength in unity

Well, that was a fortnight of two weeks, to butcher a footballing cliche. Two weeks ago we had a positive and forward-looking AGM and conference, with brilliant contributions from our speakers and excellent discussions on our proposed ‘2020 Vision’. Then last week ended with an election that many (I imagine most) social workers and users of social work services can only view as having negative and backward-looking consequences. I was out of the country at the...

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Apr
20
2015

A call to action!

I mentioned Terry Bamford’s new book in my last blog post and, following a pleasant coincidence that happened last Friday (10th April), I am very happy to do so again. I had left my copy in my Glasgow hotel room as I went to nearby Paisley for the first day of the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) conference, then, lo and behold, Iain Ferguson –Professor of Social Work at the University of West Scotland and one of SWAN’s founders – quoted a couple...

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Apr
08
2015

Vision and Strategy

I seem to be eating, drinking and breathing BASW at the moment, and now I’m blogging it too.

We had a Council meeting last week, since then it’s been all systems go for the AGM on 29th April, once again at that wonderful London Symphony Orchestra venue, St Luke’s on London’s Old Street (I think they will have sorted out the lunchtime queuing issue this year). We spent a fair amount of time at Council hearing about the findings of the r...

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Mar
06
2015

BASW member research: developing the future vision of a member-led organisation

I was in the Kent Street office on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Social Workers Union (SWU) Executive. I was there to talk about the work we have been developing within BASW Council that has led to the current member consultation, and also simply to observe the work of the executive, in my role as BASW Chair. I’ve been working quite closely with Dave Allan, the SWU President, and met with the other SWU honorary officers, but it was good to meet the rest of t...

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Jan
30
2015

17,000 members and counting!

My first blog post of the year is perhaps a little late for it to begin with a new year’s greeting, but as I have managed to write it before the end of January I’m going to say it anyway – a happy new year to one and all! And I hope your 2015 has started in the way you wished it to.

BASW ended 2014 on a high in terms of membership, as we reached the record-breaking figure of 17,000 and counting. We very much intend to consolidate and build on t...

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Dec
19
2014

Talk & Travels

Well, another chair’s blog post is well overdue, and all I can plead by way of an excuse for its recent prolonged absence is busyness, involving travels to Palestine, Edinburgh, Poland and Wolverhampton, among other places. Most of these trips deserve a blog post in their own right, and I should certainly like to write about the first Palestinian International Social Work Conference, at which I spoke as BASW chair alongside Rory Truell, the secretary-general of the...

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Nov
07
2014

A week of PSW

Travelling to south west London on my day job (off this morning to run the second day of a training course in solution-focused practice to a team of substance misuse practitioners), and as Holborn tube station was closed for some reason I’ve had to spend a large part of my journey on the trundling District Line. But every cloud has a silver lining and, in this case, I’ve been able to read the November issue of Professional Social Work from cover to cover....

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Nov
03
2014

Musings on mental health & democratic social work

Met with my friend, Dave Harper, the other evening (to see the film Northern Soul – highly recommended!). Dave is the programme director of the clinical psychology course at the University of East London and on the editorial collective for Asylum, the ‘magazine for democratic psychiatry’. Asylum was founded by Alec Jenner, among others, a professor of psychiatry in Sheffield, whose lectures on mental health were among the high...

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Oct
09
2014

BASW the Association of our aspirations

The best of intentions and all that - I had been hoping to post at least once a week but had been forgetting that one takes time off occasionally. Then catching up, in this email age, becomes the next issue…

Still, I had a pleasant few days away last week, which ended in the Dog and Partridge in Sheffield, once more the venue for a pleasant evening with my fellow 1987-1989 social work students, though for the first time, with most of them, since 1989. &nb...

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Sep
25
2014

Democracy in action

I’m on my way home from the Labour Party Conference, where BASW/SWU have a stand this year. It was a bit of a shock to the system, my first direct experience of one (the conference I mean, rather than the BASW stand).

I used to watch them avidly as a student in the 80s, and then felt connected to them as a party member in the 90s – and very different affairs they were then, with real debates, often heated and then some, and votes on major policy issues....

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Sep
19
2014

The BASW Trinity

BASW is a complicated organisation, in fact it’s even more complicated than I thought!

I am having a rest and, I think, a well-earned glass of wine, having spent the day at my first Advisory Group meeting, getting to grips with what is becoming a trinity of connected organisations in one, BASW, SWU and the BASW Trust. The Advisory Group has grown out of the bilateral meetings between the honorary officers of BASW (chair, vice-chair and chair of the Finance &a...

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Sep
11
2014

A question of identity

Those eagle-eyed Professional Social Work (PSW) readers among you will no doubt have been wondering when the Chair's blog will launch, given my assertion in the latest edition that I had begun writing it, 'as you might have seen'. Apologies, you couldn't actually have seen it, as it hadn't appeared until right now.

So now that it is underway, I am really pleased to have this opportunity to communicate directly with BASW members (as well as non-members) and to hear ...

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