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SASW report - January 2014

Professional development

November was all about identifying and confirming what makes social work unique. The month started with the Social Work Professional Development C12 Conference at the University of Dundee, an event geared towards current Dundee students, newly qualified social work practitioners, practice educators and academic staff. There were many excellent workshops and keynote speakers. The golden thread throughout seemed the focus on continuous professional development, social work skills and knowledge, competencies and confidence. We were delighted that Professor Pamela Trevithick within her key note presentation urged the audience to join BASW. She stated unequivocally that practitioner voices must be heard in order to ensure the profession maintains its essential role and flourishes, and the professional body is the organisation to do so.  If you know of colleagues who have not got round to joining us yet, spread the word! Prof Trevithick identified a conceptual map of professional social work practice, which includes a lexicon of 80 (and growing!) social work skills and interventions. Dr Ann Hodson presented on “The complex world of pre-birth assessment”, one of many thought-provoking workshop sessions highlighting the development of social work as a profession which is constantly evolving as we learn more about people and their circumstances.

Primary prevention

Pre-birth and babies feature again in the “Keeping the baby IN the bathwater” campaign which SASW, along with over 50 other collaborators, have signed up to. We are asking for the Children and Young People’s Minister Aileen Campbell to close the significant gaps in the Children and Young People Bill around primary prevention and the first 1,001 days of life. The goal is that primary prevention and the earliest years will become part of the “must do” list for all relevant public bodies, on an equal footing with the other important areas already covered within this Bill, which had its Stage 1 hearing in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Nov 21.

There will be many amongst you who have come across situations where you wished for an increased opportunity to work with mothers and fathers at a time when they may well be receptive to doing so. Or for social work to have the ability to undertake or lead on much more frequent and robust assessments of the extent to which - and reasons why - positive and secure attachments are (or are not) being achieved with children pre-birth to aged two in Scotland. This would also create evidence that may generate effective interventions for future generations. Ample findings from research show the positive impact of early intervention at individual, community and indeed economic level. But it needs investment to make it happen.

We all know we are “doing more with less”, but this campaign will simply become another failed initiative unless it is supported by funding. For our profession this means additional investment in social workers to work within the multi-agency context using their unique skill base to critically analyse and reflect on parent and child progress, as well as enable and empower. It also means that we need to allow social workers in adult support and intervention services to develop their understanding of the agenda. As the political parties prepare their manifestos, we will be making these points at the right opportunities.

Social Work Services Strategic Forum

On 19 November the first meeting of the Social Work Services Strategic Forum, a group chaired by the Ms Campbell and lead by the Chief Social Work Adviser Alan Baird, took place. The group has as its wide remit to drive development, vision, cross-cutting, expert capacity for testing out and informing Scottish Government strategic, policy and legislative developments related to social work and social care services. Our task at SASW is to reflect representing what we are doing to improve social work services, promote our contribution to improving people’s lives and strengthen the workforce that delivers them. We need you as members to let us know what your experiences are – please or email Trisha direct at

Recruitment and retention

SASW Scotland Committee met on 20 November for a planning and development day where we aimed to set the strategic direction for the coming year. The group now consists of 15 enthusiastic professionals from across Scotland with representation from almost every area of social work practice and a wide variety and depth of practice experience. Our main focus will be on the recruitment and retention of members. We are going to work on increased and improved communication with you as the practitioners who inform our work. Please look at the website for further details on Forums and CPD opportunities.

We welcomed Christina Ramage as the SWU/ A&R professional based in Scotland into her new post this month.

The Forth Valley branch study day on 28 November on substance use “From cradle to grave” organised by Kate Pryde, Robin Duncan and Rena Philips should be a most informative event. And the Practice Teachers conference on 3 December which SASW and the Scottish Organisation for Practice Teaching are organising will round off a busy period.

Social Work Awards

Finally, the applications for our Social Work Awards in the categories of Student Social Worker of the Year and Residential Care Worker of the Year have been somewhat disappointing in number. Therefore: the closing date has been extended to Friday, 17 January. Please email to get a form, and nominate someone that makes you proud to work in social work today!

From all of us at SASW, have a lovely Christmas.