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Northern Ireland report - October 2013

September saw the Northern Ireland team working with colleagues from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust to host Robin Swann Ulster Unionist MLA for North Antrim on a visit to meet social workers and service users.

He spent several hours with a group of social work staff from mental health and dementia teams and had an engaging discussion about what social workers do, the complex work you all undertake on a daily basis and the highs and the lows of the job. He also heard about some of the frustrations you face with lack of funding and increasing demand for services.
The dedication and commitment of the staff involved was evident and Mr Swann was able to use the opportunity to learn more about what we do. It was a great opportunity to raise the profile of our profession and we at NIASW hope that many more teams will be available to host their local MLA. 
Although there may be some initial nervousness and reluctance, NIASW really believe it is essential that our politicians know more about social work, so that their decisions on key health and social care issues are informed.
At the start of his visit, Nr Swann said that he knew what nurses, doctors and physiotherapists did, but that he couldn’t say what social workers do. He had some idea that we worked with at risk children, disabled children and older people. After his visit he had a much clearer idea of the variety and diversity of our work.
In fact the morning was so successful that he has asked to go back and spend some time with children’s services staff! NIASW would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff who took part. We really couldn't have done it without you.
If you or your team would like more information about how to take part in the MLA social work placement scheme please contact Carolyn Ewart to discuss.
Student Forum: NIASW’s new online Student Forum has been set up by for social work students in Northern Ireland. The forum gives NIASW student members the chance to access information, share resources, exchange ideas and discuss problems in a secure and confidential way. It can be accessed through NIASW’s homepage on the BASW website.
Game for a laugh: On a lighter note, social worker and NIASW member Debbie Greaves launched her comedy career with “Stand Up For Social work”, an event in her home town of Omagh on Friday 13th. Despite the ominous date, the night was a resounding success – look out for more details in the next issue of PSW.