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Social Work in Disasters Conference 2019

Defining the role of the social worker in emergency response

Join us for this full day conference, featuring workshops to discuss the role of the social worker in situations including; natural disasters, terrorist attacks and large-scale accidents.

BASW England together with social workers and leaders in local and national government, practitioners, academics and people with lived experience are working collaboratively in raising the profile of the social worker in the role of emergency response and disasters.  

Speakers will include people with lived experience and frontline social workers with experience of working in disasters in the UK and abroad:


  • Margaret Aspinall, Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group

    Margaret Aspinall will be the conference's keynote speaker and will share her experiences of social work support following the death of her 18 year old son, James at Hillsborough.

  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

    Andy Burnham was elected Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017.   On the 22nd May 2017 the terrorist attack took place at the Manchester Arena.  Andy will speak about his role, and how the city of Manchester pulled together following the aftermath of this tragic event.
  • Cath Hill, Manchester Survivors Choir

    Cath Hill started the Manchester Survivors Choir, following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.  Cath is  a social worker and will speak about her experiences and the support the choir has given to other families affected by the Manchester bombing.  Click here to read more.

  • Mags Doherty and Elizabeth Stevens, Manchester City Council

    Mags and Eizabeth are social workers who provided help and support for families affected by the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.

  • Janet Foulds, Derby City Council

    Janet is a social worker who was involved in supporting those affected by the Kegworth plane crash and the Hillsborough tragedy, and will be speaking about her experiences and leading the workshop Learning from Experience

  • Professor Lena Dominelli, University of Stirling

    Lena has specific interest in climate change and extreme weather events including droughts, floods, cold snaps, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, disaster interventions, vulnerablity and resilience, and community engagement.  Lena will speaking about international social work

  • Joe Hanley, Brunel University London

    Joe is a member of the BASW England social work in disasters round table group, and has been instrumental in developing the CPD guidance for social work roles undertaken during disasters.  Joe will be leading the workshop on the CPD guidance and will be looking to develop a pilot scheme with local authorities. For more information, read Joe's blog here

  • Mariam Raja, Social Worker

    Mariam will lead the workshop on Self-care and Support and reflect in the lessons she has learnt from her experience as a social worker supporting families affected by the Grenfell tower fire.

  • Emma Scarth & Jess Hill, Lincolnshire County Council

    Emma and Jess will lead the Disaster Response and share their experience and knowledge from responding to the Wainfleet floods.  As we have seen over the last few days, flooding is a serious and ongoing threat to many communities in England.


  • CPD Guidance on social work roles undertaken during disasters

Joe Hanley will discuss the guidance on providing qualified social workers with continued professional development (CPD) training on the role of social work in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. This session will be helpful for anyone involved in the training and workforce development of social workers and practitioners seeking to identify the standard expectations for social  workers responding in disasters.  

  • Learning from experience – major incidents

Janet Foulds will draw on experiences as a social worker responding in the Hillsborough and Kegworth disasters. This session will provide Social Workers with information which can be applied to direct practice.

  • Self-care and support

Mariam Raja will be examining self-care drawing on learning from responding to the Grenfell tower. This will be helpful for social workers who work or are expecting to work in disasters to promote self-resilience. Managers and supervisors of social workers who work in disasters will also find this is essential learning in respect of supporting their workforce.

  • Disaster preparation and responses

Emma Scarth & Jess Hill will be learning from their interventions during the Wainfleet floods. The session will look at the role of the social worker and local authority when assisting people affected by a natural disaster. The session will be of helpful to anyone interested in working in preparation and during a natural disaster.

  • Social Work interventions in armed conflicts

This session will draw on learning from Social Workers who have worked in regions where there has been armed conflict. The session will provide learning for social workers working during and after incidents of armed conflict.

  • Improving the social worker response to disasters

Cath Hill will lead this workshop. The session will be helpful for social workers seeking to build knowledge or improve their practice when responding to the needs of people affected by disaster.

For more information on our work click here.