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Social Work’s Place in Emergencies and Disasters Special Interest Group

Microsoft Teams Meeting

Chair – Professor Lena Dominelli

Welcome to BASW’s special interest group on disasters! This special interest group, Social Work’s Place in Emergencies and Disasters (SPEDI for short), was created in late 2019. It received approval from BASW's Policy, Ethics and Human Rights Committee to engage social workers in discussions about their role and place in addressing disasters, whatever their cause, and the training and activities that might support them in developing their skills from qualifying to post-qualifying levels, and for continuous professional development. At that time, the UK had experienced numerous disasters ranging from floods to terrorism.

The Grenfell Fire above all, raised the need for social work education and training to address the profession’s skills portfolio regarding disasters as a matter of urgency. And then came Covid-19, a global pandemic that has hit the UK hard. We have much to learn about this disease. But what we know from it is that social workers and social care workers have stepped up to the plate and risked their lives quietly and without fanfare. Moreover, the risks and uncertainty associated with Covid-19, especially around the issues linked to inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), have meant that the social work and social care sector has also experienced the tragic loss of life among workers and service users alike.  

This health pandemic has also highlighted issues that social workers are more than familiar with – the importance of upholding people’s human rights and entitlements to services, structural inequalities, the impact of age, gender, ethnicity, poverty and other factors in infection and mortality rates, and the need for training and research for our profession to rise to the new challenges disasters pose. This challenge includes the kind of profession we envisage for a post-Covid world.

SPEDI offers you the opportunity to get involved in these activities, and contribute to raising and discussing the issues that you want to see addressed, and organise activities that will enhance social work skills in responding to disasters.  As the founding Chair of SPEDI, I invite you to join this new special interest group. You can become fully involved in creating an exciting programme of activities as we move forward. 

SPEDI is UK-wide, but as much else in social work, it recognises the importance of the four nations that comprise the UK, and so it is envisaged that there will be a national element in its governance structures to cater for this. The next meeting – by Microsoft Teams, will take place on Monday, 5 October 2020 from 14:00-16:00. Please click the BOOK NOW link below to receive an invitation to join this meeting. Please feel free to make suggestions for items that you would like to be considered for inclusion in the agenda beforehand. I look forward to meeting you at our next, and third, meeting of SPEDI.

Lena Dominelli, Chair of SPEDI