Chair's Blog


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 in our 2020 Vision, and we need to translate these words into actions.

We have been doing this in a number of ways in recent months, most visibly perhaps as part of the Social Workers and Service Users Against Austerity campaign, which has seen our banner at recent marches against austerity and racism, a presentation at the JSWEC conference, and at the SWAN conference in June.

Through BASW’s involvement in this campaign, we have been continuing to develop relationships with Shaping Our Lives and ATD Fourth World, who both played important roles in the social work summit back in January, and with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) amongst others. And Ruth Allen, our new chief executive, has brought with her a wealth of experience of co-production with service users.

We have now embarked on the next steps towards strengthening our partnerships with service users and carers, by bringing lead members and members of staff together into a working group to this end. One of the first things we decided when we met a week ago was that we need also to invite service users into the working group itself – we need to consider together how to develop partnership working.

BASW has a very credible history of taking a lead on service user involvement going back at least 40 years – so almost to our very beginnings – I have mentioned Bill Jordan’s 1975 BASW conference presentation, Clients are Fellow Citizens, in a previous blog post.

This has focused mainly on advocating for service user involvement in social work practice, for example by using open and shared records and attendance at case conferences. Involving service users in the activities of BASW itself is in the main a newer departure. We have an open mind at this stage about how and where to do this, and Peter Unwin, social work lecturer at Worcester, wrote a helpful paper on this for BASW Council in January this year, suggesting the potential to work with service users in different ways, as ‘practice allies’, as ‘political allies’, and/or as ‘governance allies’.

The working group will be keen to hear as many views as possible, in coming to the recommendations that we will be making for how BASW can take this forward. You could share your thoughts in public – in front of BASW members at least – by posting a comment under this blog post, or you could email me at Either way, it would be great to hear from you.

I will provide updates in future blog posts.



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