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SASW report – November 2013

Trisha Hall has had a very varied start to her first weeks as Manager of the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) and as part of the BASW UK team. “I have been most fortunate in the support received as part of my induction into this exciting role. Ruth retired on 11 October after her 14 years at the helm in Scotland, and will be missed for her extensive skill base and experience, and as a staunch champion of social work values, reflective practice, and human rights.”

Evidence to Parliament
It was helpful that there was a brief handover period which allowed Trisha to accompany Ruth in some of her activities, including giving oral evidence to the Health and Sport Committee on the Public Bodies Bill (integrating adult social work/care services and health). Ruth took the chance to confirm the importance of the dual dynamic of the unique social work role – preventive, participative, enabling and empowering work, combined with also ensuring the protection of those adults who may need this. It is imperative that the professional social work role remains a key contributor to the assessment and allocation of care and support of adults in need of services.

Dawn McKenzie
They also attended the MHO annual working day in Perth, which proved a very successful day.

This coincided with media interest in a response from SASW following the Serious Case Review into the tragic death of a foster carer in Glasgow, Dawn McKenzie.

Ruth was able to emphasise the challenges arising from the lack of time available to workers to reflect on and consider cases more carefully, as well as some points not widely acknowledged in coverage of the report, such as evidence of good work by committed and conscientious social work staff.

The report’s assessment of the impact of organisational and structural changes (including the shortage of resources and disruption to supervisory and management structures) will have resounded with many professionals in the field. Ultimately, a young person apparently ‘coping’ with what life has presented may not be the same as a ‘resilient’ young person, and that difference may only become an issue for consideration after there has been considered and informed time to reflect; something all too often absent from our workplaces.

Austerity and welfare reform
We are working in times of austerity and the impact of welfare reform is becoming clear, not least on our provision of social work services, which we are obliged to ensure meet the standard required by our Code of Practice. What can we collectively do to find a way forward? Social workers are often accused of complaining that they are understaffed, overstretched and disillusioned; yet we in SASW are often much more struck by the amount of workers we encounter who may well adequately recognise the tensions and complex cultures they work within, but who remain committed, solution-focused and excited about the potential they and the profession have to offer.

There are also many examples of excellent practice, interventions and support which have enabled the people we work with and for to have a better quality of life. This is something the SASW Annual Awards consistently highlight, showcasing evidence of best practice, and something we aim to continue. So, have you submitted your application?

Permanent evolution
There are moves afoot in Scotland to have an informed debate about what is needed to ensure social work and social workers deliver the services people need – life after ‘Changing Lives’. It is essential that we contribute to those initiatives, which is why Trisha attended the first in a series of consultations on which the Scottish Social Care Council (SSSC) is leading, comprising a review of the social work degree programme, post-qualifying support and other matters which aim to ‘reclaim’ the social work agenda.

This first meeting reflected dedication and absolute positive intent to not just identify and discuss, but to follow up with real and sustainable action. Within this context we want to remind you of the Practice Learning for Student Social Workers Conference, a study day for Practice Teachers on 3 December at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline [visit for details]

There are a number of ongoing consultations on which we still need your input, so do please share your views on The Children’s Hearings Feedback Loop, the mental health strategy, criminal justice reform, and the continued consultation on the integration agenda.

Social Services Expo Conference on World Social Work Day
We are beginning the work on planning next year’s Social Services Expo Conference on World Social Work Day on 18 March 2014, in partnership with other agencies in Scotland. The SASW Awards will be presented on the evening of the day.

Message from Trisha
“As I settle into my new post I hope to be able to make connections with as many of you as possible and would welcome invitations from you and your team, either to organise one of our SASW CPD seminars or to talk with you about your views on how we can constructively ensure social work is safeguarded and strengthened in Scotland: proud of what we do, how and where we do it!”