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England report – December 2012

The England team would like to wish you a good Christmas break and wish you all a happy new year.
The month leading up to Christmas made no allowances for festivities, starting with the second session of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Work’s inquiry at the end of November. The subjects were children’s services, particularly adoption, and young offenders. Four experienced practising social workers told MPs how they and their dedicated colleagues are regularly working late into the evening and on weekends to deal with backlogs, as well as a serious “disconnect” between centrally driven initiatives, including the Social Work Reform Board and The College of Social Work, and the reality of life for professionals who don’t have the time to find out what it all means [see pages 16-17 for more].
The next APPG session will focus on social work with adults and mental health. If you would like to volunteer to attend and have your views heard, please let us know in the England Team.

Russian network
The Russian network group is to hold live exchanges with practitioners in Russia at an event at Worcester University on 22 February 2013, titled Understanding Cultural Aspects of Parental Distress and Contemporary Practice Responses – UK and Russia Perspectives.
Members of the Children & Families Reference Group have submitted a response to the Westminster consultation, Adoption and Fostering: Tackling Delays, which highlights our concerns in respect of ‘speeding up’ the process (available to read on website). Will social workers be pushed to meet targets rather than focus on the safety and security of children living new lives with prospective adopters? The debate goes on.

Social Work Awards
The Social Work Awards for England, which BASW co-sponsored, took place at Westminster at the end of November. There were a host of nominations and those putting people forward had to obtain feedback from service users about the merits of the nominee, to make sure that no-one lost the focus of what social work is all about. All the individuals highlighted are to be congratulated. It is important for all of us to reflect that even if at times we find our work a struggle, there are people who are safer and in a better place because of what we do.

Mixed views on mental health
Your responses to our survey of mental health social work are beginning to come in and some early headlines include nearly all respondents agreeing that multi-disciplinary teams are a good thing for service users and aid communication with fellow professionals. However, opinion is divided on the question of whether “MDTs’ located together cause a ‘team think approach’ and undermine the professional integrity and autonomy of the social work role”. The numbers of respondents who are no longer located in an MDT are, to date, small, but there are some very mixed views about the benefits and disadvantages of no longer being part of such a team. It is not too late to complete the survey by visiting We will be collating responses in January.

Seminars and workshops
We hope you have noticed that we have been increasing the number of workshops and seminars on offer to members. If you have an idea for a workshop, or better still would like to present one, then please contact Joe Godden to discuss your ideas.
England Annual Conference plans are forging ahead, so please note Thursday 16 May 2013 in your diaries. The event will take place in London and will focus on mental health, particularly social work integration across children & families and adult services. The day will also include the BASW England AGM. More news will be available soon on the website and in e-bulletins.

Decision makers
BASW was pleased to be invited to join the Care Inquiry set up by eight third sector organisations, led by the Family Rights Group, offering a focus on all aspects of care for looked after children ( or #thecareinquiry). Though initially thrilled at the recognition that adoption is not the only route for permanency, Sue Kent reported her disappointment at the views expressed by a number of policy makers in attendance who did not appear to recognise such frontline concerns. When challenged about the resources needed to tackle the failings of the care system, they once again referred to the need for innovation. This was only the first of three events and the findings will be packaged up in a single concluding report.

It is interesting to note that this page has featured much of the work that we are currently doing with policy formers and other groups. BASW members are very good at seizing opportunities to speak to those in power about how things are for practising social workers and we are grateful to all those who assist us in this important work.