Chair's Blog


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 the executive too.

I joined SWU as soon as I learned of its existence as a BASW member a few years back, as I thought that this was an extremely positive step, the creation of a specialist trade union for social workers, run by social workers. I’m looking forward to ever closer links being forged between the professional association of BASW and the trade union, SWU (and with the third, developing part of the ‘BASW Trinity’, the BASW Trust).

Moving on to the consultation, all BASW members who use email and for whom BASW has email addresses should have received an email from me recently with a link to a survey in it. I’m hoping we get as big a return as possible, as that would really say something about the vision and plan we are creating being for BASW as a member-led organisation.

I’m sorry that we have not been able in this consultation to carry it out in such a way so that members who don’t use email could also take part. I have to confess that I sometimes assume that everyone uses email now, and it was well brought home to me recently – by a member of the SWU Exec on Wednesday as it happens – that this is not actually the case.

It may be that BASW’s retired members are represented more than others in this group. However, even more excluding of retired members is very first question of the questionnaire: Please tell us where you currently work

The company we have engaged to carry out this consultation are doing an excellent job, to the very tight timescale that we have given them, and have developed the questionnaire in response to our specifications. I personally have had close oversight of it and was involved in signing it off, so if it’s down to anyone it’s down to me, and I would like to sincerely apologise to our retired members, for making it so hard, if not impossible, for them to contribute to the questionnaire. It is clear that the questionnaire is aimed at people currently working, and as well as being unfair to people not working, this means that we could be missing out on a huge reservoir of practice wisdom, hard-earned over many years.

We are always on a learning curve, and sometimes mine is so steep I’m in danger of sliding down! I intend to continue climbing up this one.

Speaking of reservoirs of practice wisdom, I signed up to the Social Work History Network this week, and look forward to becoming involved in this. Becoming too preoccupied with the future can make us miss out untold treasures from the past!


Guy Shennan on 06/03/2015 18:54:10

Addendum to my post above - some members without email addresses WILL be taking part, as the research company will be telephoning a sample of those members.

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