Chair's Blog


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 this figure and I am confident that we will continue to attract more and more social workers and social workers of the future into the Association. Our growing size is a testament to BASW’s strength and the benefits that membership offers. We have no intention to be complacent, however, and we are always looking for ways to develop, to increase our relevance for social workers and to promote and strengthen social work as a profession.

This is why we are spending time at present, as a Council, in developing a vision for the future of BASW, as a member-led organisation. At our first Council meeting of the year, on 14 January, we spent a large amount of our time in considering a proposal we had invited from a research company, Research by Design, about how they might go about consulting our members about this future vision. We have now commissioned this company to carry out this work, which has already begun, with a number of stakeholder interviews having taken place and focus groups poised to happen in the near future. The focus groups and a number of individual depth interviews have been designed to guide the creation of a questionnaire, which will then be sent out to all members for whom we have email addresses (so – if the records we have for you might be out-of-date in terms of your email address, or if we don’t have an email address for you, now might be the time to update them). Telephone interviews will supplement the emailed out questionnaires, to include members for whom we don’t have email addresses.

So, please do watch out for contact being made with you. The time to expect to see an email arriving is from 24 February onwards. We hope to have as big a return as possible, so that our future vision can be truly informed by what members want to see within it.

What we learn from this consultation will inform our presentation to members at the BASW AGM on 29 April about the development of our vision and the plans to support it.

Finally, Council also discussed at length the 2015 International Federation of Social Workers’ European Conference, taking place in Edinburgh from 6-9 September. I am pleased to say that bookings are now open for this event, which BASW is proud to be hosting – it promises to be an absolute highlight of the year. To find out more and to register for a place, go to the conference website at

I will see you again soon, as there is lots to report on at the moment!


Helen Ogilvy on 02/02/2015 14:03:30

Great to see that the general membership continues to rise and that the number of independents is on the up too - now over 3000 or approximately 17.5%.

Also good to hear that BASW wants to hear members opinions as part of the creation of a future vision. However, haven't we been there in the very recent past? I can recall contributing to a strategic review within the past couple of years and have yet to hear what difference (if any) that exercise has had. Is it likely to see the light of day? Or has it simply been set aside in the hope that a new exercise might bring more pleasing outcomes?

Helen Ogilvy
Member 48901

Guy Shennan on 06/03/2015 15:40:41

Hi Helen
And good too to see your response to my post! My apologies that I have taken a while to respond to you.
I think we might have been there in the recent past, in that there have been other 'strategic reviews', and members have been consulted about those too. As far as I understand it, the most recent previous review concerned (at least in part) the relationship between BASW and SWU, and that has been solidified since the 2014 AGM. If you're referring to a different consultation though, I'd be keen to hear more about that.
Regarding the results of this one, they most definitely will see the light of day, that day being 29 April in fact, as they will be directly informing what will be presented to members at the AGM, about the vision, priorities and future direction of BASW.
I hope we will be there again too, in terms of continuing to consulting with members in the future.
Best wishes

Helen Ogilvy on 13/03/2015 12:22:15

Thanks for the response, Guy. Glad to hear that outcomes will be fed back to members.

The review I was referring to was the strategic review carried out in 2013. Members were assured at the AGM in Derby that year that this large scale strategic review would set the direction of travel for years to come and that there would be clear feedback to members. I am not aware that it ever saw the light of day, hence my question to you. If I missed it, I apologise but as a long-standing and fairly involved member, I think I would have noticed.

However, it is not the only thing to apparently fail to see the light of day. You may be aware that I have been involved in various capacities in the development of BASW Independents since 2003. In February 2013, on behalf of independent members, I raised a number of issues with Bridget in her role as Acting Chief Executive - a list of issues that independents had raised with the Association and had been assured would be acted upon. Some of those issues dated back to the annual independents conference in Oxford in 2010, when the then Chief Executive Hilton Dawson and Assistant Chief Executive Phil James gave clear undertakings to members that the Association would act. Issues from 2010 included clearer information for members regarding the insurance products and additional insurance products such as critical illness cover, business seminars, basic information for members regarding accountancy issues, tax, VAT and basic contract templates. There was also an agreement that given the growing number of independents (then 600 now over 3000) that there would be a place on Council for a member to specifically represent this growing constituency. Five years later this has not been progressed.

The one thing that was acted upon from that conference was the appointment of a dedicated member of staff to work with independent members - and they don't come any more dedicated than Tricia! She is a great asset to BASW and very highly thought of by independent members. However, there is a limit to what even Tricia can achieve if the organisation as a whole is not signed up to meeting the objectives agreed with members.

Other conferences have brought other assurances that have fallen by the wayside - GSX account for secure transfer of information, IT support services, developing supervision/consultation/mentoring structures ... I won't go on.

We have just had another conference this week and it was most unfortunate that neither Maris (England Manager) nor Bridget (Chief Exec) was able to attend (I wish them both a speedy recovery!). Those members of staff present were very reassuring to members that BASW would respond to whatever members were asking for to support them in their roles. Fine words (and I am sure they were genuinely meant) but history strongly suggests that they will be just that - words.

So you will perhaps understand why my response to the current consultation is a little luke-warm - I am still waiting to hear the outcomes of and experience the benefits of all the previous ones.

Kindest Regards


Guy Shennan on 05/04/2015 11:48:01

Hi Helen

Thanks for the clarification - and I quite understand why your response is a little luke-warm.

I think sometimes the use of the expression 'strategic review' can lead to a little confusion (I mean, we might be guilty of this in BASW centrally). There are a number of aspects of BASW's work that have been under review (all of them in a sense will be all of the time), and the term was used in 2014 to refer in particular to the development of the BASW-SWU relationship.

At the 2013 AGM, a motion, proposed by the Black Country branch, was carried, which called on Council to 'provide a draft for consultation with the membership on a vision for the future of BASW as a member-led organisation and present this for endorsement at the 2014 AGM with a Business Plan to support it. For various reasons, Council were not able to fully progress with this in 2013-4, and the previous chair made a commitment at the 2014 AGM that we would consult with members on the future vision for the Association before the 2015 AGM.

As the incoming chair and new Council, we have been acting on this, and have consulted with the membership (as I have described in my blog posts and articles in PSW). We are currently working on a draft vision and five-year strategy based on this, and this will be made public on 24th April and the subject of discussion at the UK AGM on 29th April. It will be on the website and we will be welcoming further comments for several weeks after the AGM. After this we will be producing a revised draft, and our intention is that this will be published once approved by Council later in the summer.

I read your comments about the BASW Independents with interest (not least as I work independently myself). I haven't been aware of any of this detail up to now, to be quite honest, and I shall make myself more aware of the situation and of assurances that have been made.

These two matters will be very much linked together though, in that the needs of independents will figure strongly in our strategy and objectives for the next few years ahead. This should assist in ensuring that as an organisation we are signed up as a whole to meeting these objectives.

And I'd like to echo your words about Tricia - a great asset to BASW indeed!

Best wishes

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