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BASW England Report – January 2014

Maris Stratulis has now taken up post as England Manager and is in the process of meeting members and partner organisations. She was delighted to be able to attend the Northumbria branch AGM and to hear from members about the importance of support with mentoring opportunities for newly qualified social workers seeking employment. There are increasing concerns being raised by members about the impact of funding cuts, pay reviews and the ripple effect of reduced grants to voluntary and independent sector organisations that provide critical early help services to vulnerable adults, children and families.

Media Coverage

The England team and members have been pro-actively engaged in responding to an increasing number of media requests relating to serious case reviews, domiciliary support to adults, social work recruitment and retention and specific cases highlighted by some newspapers that present social work in a negative and inaccurate light. Members and the team always endeavour to present the views of our members in a fair and balanced way.

Membership Involvement    

The team is committed to supporting more BASW members to attend All Parliamentary Groups, Select Committees and roundtable events. Richard Servian recently attended an Education Select Committee looking at reforms to residential children’s homes, supported by Marie Tree. He said he wanted reforms to emphasise relationships rather than being compliance-driven and stressed residential work should not be seen as a “Cinderella service” and must attract the “best qualified people”.

Alcohol and Other Drugs Special Interest Group Event - Substance use, health and wellbeing: building a framework for professional collaboration

This partnership event explored the development of a policy and practice framework for substance use across mainstream services and specialist treatment. Guest speakers included Sarah Galvani, (chair of BASW Alcohol and other Drugs SIG) as well as representatives from the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, British Psychological Society and Drugscope. It was evident from the event that the complexity of commissioning arrangements and limited investment in both mainstream and specialist workforce development in alcohol and substance misuse will have a detrimental impact on appropriate and responsive services in the future.

Joe Godden was pleased to co-present a really interesting and thought-provoking seminar on whistleblowing with Rosemary Crockett, Policy lead at the Whistleblowing Helpline, which can be contacted on 08000 724 725. We heard from members who had blown the whistle and how that had been a very difficult and challenging decision. Their courage and commitment to the BASW Code of Ethics was humbling. There were lots of issues discussed, but two things stood out – one was the importance of raising and recording with managers the issue of unsafe caseloads and secondly, the importance of members talking through any decision to whistleblow with BASW/SWU prior to taking action. Joe and BASW member Linda Holt were also pleased to facilitate two seminars for students at Liverpool John Moore’s university. It is good to see such an important topic as part of the student curriculum. BASW will soon be producing a whistleblowing policy, which will address issues for all social workers including independents.

Professional Officer Nushra Mansuri was pleased to attend a number of events including Children and Families Live in London and a South West regional forum meeting in Bristol initiated by BASW member and former chair of the Association David Niven looking at how to take forward issues of child abuse within faith based communities with a particular focus on safeguarding children from abuse linked to a belief in spirit possession. Nushra also attended a careers fair at NEW Buckinghamshire University and the inaugural meeting of the Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) Trust Social Work Forum hosted by BASW in Birmingham. It is always good to be part of innovative social work initiatives and we look forward to the future development of these forums.

The highlight of November had to be the Social Work Awards in England and the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful successes of many great social workers rather than expending time and energy responding to criticism and the defence of our profession. Professional Officer Sue Kent was delighted to present the BASW sponsored award for Lifetime Achievement to Jenni Randall who is also a BASW member and has done outstanding work throughout her forty year career, particularly in residential child care. We salute you Jenni!

The England team also attended two Compass job fair events in London and Manchester. Sue and Nushra gave presentations at both venues about the current challenges in children’s services while Joe supported an NQSW to share her very positive early experiences of practice with delegates in Manchester. Sue also met up with a group of students in London who were assisted by BASW in successfully challenging their university’s sudden increase in fees. A group hug was very much in order!

Finally, the England team would like to say a big thank you to all members for their significant contribution throughout the year and wish them a good and well-deserved Christmas break and best wishes for 2014.