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BASW England Conference 2021

Session 2: Social Work Perspectives on Human Rights, Ethical Challenges and Dilemmas

This year’s conference will host speakers reflecting on the importance of ensuring human rights and ethics remain central to practice, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matters movement. 

A panel of speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience will discuss the social work perspective of human rights and the ethical challenges and dilemmas that social workers face.

Chair: Dr. Andy Gill, Chair BASW England Committee


Alexis Quinn is a campaigner for alternatives to restraining patients in ATUs.  Alexis has lived experience as an autistic parent and is interested in the rights of autistic pregnant women.  

A school teacher of over ten years, former professional athlete and now author of her ground-breaking memoir, Unbroken, Alexis is Manager of the Restraint Reduction Network. Activists all have a story or defining moment that propel us into action. Alexis Quinn’s began with a crisis after she birthed her first child and her youngest brother died. She asked for help from services, responded autistically to the ‘help’ and was was detained under the Mental Health Act for three and half years before escaping to Africa. Alexis will speak of her extraordinary and daring journey in the mental health ‘system’ and present her personal experience of the systemic pressures that exist in the inpatient mental health system for autistic people. She will challenge the current paradigms for caring by giving a first-hand narrative of the damaging sensory, communication and language barriers that routinely exists in places that care for people. Alexis will describe the impact of ‘othering’ and how such engrained practices far too often result in a diminished sense of self and cumulative interpersonal trauma.  

Nicola Sylvester  Nicola Sylvester qualified as a social worker after a two-decade career as a secondary school teacher. Despite describing her social work career as ‘thoroughly rewarding’, she is proud of the professional identity she has developed since changing careers. A BASW member since her days as a Masters’ student, Nicola’s commitment to the profession continues. 

Following her time in frontline children and family practice, Nicola became a senior social work lecturer supporting the learning of new entrants into the profession.

Nicola defines herself as a champion of the rights of children, young people and their families and regards herself as an anti-oppressive practitioner who advocates for children and families in a range of contexts. She is an avid proponent of the role of direct work with children and young people to ascertain their voice to inform assessments of their family lives as well as decisions affecting them. Nicola states proudly, “My main focus is to maintain children within their birth families where it is safe to do so.”  In March 2021, Nicola became Safeguarding Policy Manager for the Methodist Church. As she prepares for the exciting new challenge ahead, Nicola explains that she is very much looking forward to living out social work values in a completely different context.

Jackie Yaskey is a Senior lecturer in social work at the University of Greenwich and programme leader for the undergraduate social work course. She is a registered social worker with experience in childrens safeguarding and fostering in both statutory and independent sectors. She has experience in practice learning both as a practice educator and placements co-ordinator.

Teaching areas of expertise including social work skills and practice learning, law and policy, values and diversity, social work theories and direct work with children, employability, and transition to professional social work practice. Jackie has contributed a book chapter on practice learning in England with the University of Maryland who have a partnership with the postgraduate social work course at the University of Greenwich

She is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was recently nominated as one of BASW’s “amazing social workers “as part of World Social Work month.

Patriche Bentick is a member of BASW’s Black Professionals Symposium

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