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Make social justice a priority, BASW’s Westminster WSWD event hears

Social workers must recognise the key role their profession can play in the ongoing fight for social justice, attendees at a Westminster launch of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development have been told.

The Global Agenda, presented to MPs as part of World Social Work Day celebrations, outlines the profession’s role in pressing for governments around the world to recognise the needs of the vulnerable people social workers work alongside.

Encouraging social workers to pursue the document’s message, Hilary Tompsett, chair of the Joint University Council and vice chair of the General Social Care Council, told the Westminster event: “Beyond our national reforms we must look at the profession internationally, seeking to encourage social justice and embracing the role our profession can play a key part in this ongoing process. The Global Agenda is more than just a document and must be implemented practically in both educational settings and within frontline practice”.

Emphasising the World Social Work Day theme BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson welcomed two delegates from Lithuania and told the audience: “The global character of our profession is in evidence here today, a day which should be used as a launchpad to turn the Global Agenda into a series of real, practical steps. Social work can neither be confined nor defined by a single nation – it is a profession that challenges all governments to do better by their people.”

Former president of the International Federation of Social Workers and current Global Agenda co-ordinator, David Jones, said social work needed to be more vociferous in getting its voice heard and challenging the current economic orthodoxies which relegate social justice in policy development. “For too long we have given an undeserved voice to economists and the like, who have shaped the way we feel about one another. As social workers, our voice is just as important, we have to use our experience and have the courage to make our voices heard internationally”.

The Westminster event, staged on the same day the Queen visited parliament, was hosted by the vice chair of the newly launched All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Work, Mike Wood MP.