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SASW report – May 2014

Social Services Expo: The event in Edinburgh on 18 March attracted over 700 people and we were pleased to note in the review by the planning group that the vast majority of the participants rated it as “extremely valuable” or “very valuable”. Over 32% of participants were local authority social workers, others were social care professionals, associated professionals, academics and interested parties. Presentations on self-directed support were very popular. It seems there is a need for more detailed understanding of what is required after the Act went live on 1 April. The integration agenda was another popular topic, as was digital storytelling and the use of social media in social work and social care.

Our SASW workshops received favourable reviews about new learning on Gypsy Travellers and on the advice and representation we offer. A single comment, however, suggested our workshops were “out of sync” with practitioners’ views. Unfortunately, we can’t address what was implied and would be most interested in having that discussion! We are a membership organisation and while one can never please all of the members all of the time, we are relying on you to tell us of what we do well for and with you, but also what we can improve in order to represent you and the social work profession in Scotland as best we can.

Social work education: At the end of March we were invited to the launch of the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Glasgow when Alan Baird, Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government, presented his vision for social work informed by a long career which began as a social worker in Glasgow. It's good to be reminded that people in higher positions also once walked the walk and continue to reflect on how such shapes current thinking. Alan has been invited as a keynote speaker at the BASW AGM in June in London to introduce a session on “A Less United Kingdom?” about developments in the four countries that make up the UK.

There was a further meeting later in the week with the heads of social education in the eight universities in Scotland, where we discussed how SASW might be able to support student social workers and possibly explore potential for some joint activity. One of the concerns expressed by members experiencing challenges after qualifying is that the transition from student to worker can be too overwhelming to negotiate properly. We are investigating what support we can offer in order to prevent people from turning their backs on the profession. New workers are too valuable to lose! Let us know where we can assist.

HIV: A seminar on “The Future of HIV, Migration and Human Rights in Scotland” on 1 April, organised by the HIV, Human Rights and Development Network at Edinburgh University, provided much food for thought. Professor Susan Deacon chaired a debate where many harrowing issues were raised suggesting there is a long way to go in meeting the needs of asylum seekers and people with HIV in Scotland. Legal processes and complex systems mean people get lost in processes and are treated without the respect and dignity to which they are entitled. Social workers, as part of the process, have to work within very tightly constrained procedures and feel they are compromising their code of practice and ethics. A call to investigate action to make the necessary changes was agreed and may result in further development.

Forum: The Social Work Services Strategic Forum convened in early April to plan further work on a number of identified work streams. SASW has been invited to work with partners on the public image and promotion of social work and social care. While there have been positive responses to some of the recent TV coverage, including Channel 4’s 15,000 Kids and Counting, we are under no illusion that there is still a vast amount of work to do to get social work recognised and acknowledged as a degree qualification and profession worthy of the respect it deserves. Again, any suggestions and input welcome! Please contact Trisha at the SASW office.

Annual Meeting: Our Annual Members Meeting will take place on June 3, where we will consider the SASW Annual Report and elections for the Scotland Committee. This is followed by an informed debate on “The Referendum on 18 September: the implications for Social Work in Scotland”. We are very pleased to confirm that award-winning journalist, commentator and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch will be the keynote speaker and introduce our debate for the evening. We also need members to send us questions which we can put to our panel of invited guests - please see the advert in this issue. We hope to see many of you at this event so please come and tell your colleagues.

We are investigating if we will be able to film the event and stream it on the web after the day. Whilst this event is in Edinburgh, we are also very keen to come to you and intend to visit various areas. Our membership in Scotland is increasing but we need to be even stronger to make the difference and get your voices heard. We will advise you about these sessions, and on CPD Seminars, in e-bulletins over the coming months. We look forward to meeting with you!