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BASW England report – March 2014

February proved a busy month for the England team with the Annual General Meeting of the All Party Political Group on Social Work a particular priority. BASW lobbied to establish the group and provides secretariat services, as well as working closely with the MPs in its ranks.

Emma Lewell-Buck replaced Ann Clwyd as Chair of the group, with other officers retaining their posts. We are confident that Emma will be a great advocate for social work, drawing on her recent experiences as a child protection social worker She is keen to stay in touch with the workforce, something BASW will help her to do.

Ann was thanked for her work as Chair of the group over the past two years, and especially for co-ordinating the APPG’s State of Social Work report, published by BASW in December 2013. The group will be focusing on the future of the profession over the coming months, with particular interest in the current higher education reviews and the role of a college in England.

England Conference hosts both chief social workers
Taking place at the Grand Hotel in Bristol on 30 April, the keynote speakers at this year’s BASW England conference will include Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, Professor Nick Frost, Leeds Metropolitan University, plus former BASW Chair and a specialist in child exploitation practice, David Niven. More will be announced soon. Please book your place early to avoid disappointment.

World Social Work Day – we need you with us
Come and join us to help celebrate this annual day for our profession at the Compass Jobs Fair on 19 March, this year taking place at Thinktank, Millennium Point, Birmingham.

Foetal alcohol issues and other groups …
BASW England hosted the second meeting of the recently launched FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Social Work Forum in January. This group is really taking shape and one of BASW’s key priorities will be to produce some guidance for social workers grappling with the issues presented to them in terms of children and families affected by FASD. We will keep you posted. For further information please contact Nushra Mansuri.

The Learning & Development Reference Group has, in agreement with the England Committee, changed its name to the more appropriate and fit-for-purpose title of BASW England Professional Development Reference Group. This is in line with its new business plan. If you are interested in joining please contact Sue Kent.

Student issues
The England team has been meeting students across the country and used a recent careers event for final year students at Coventry University to share the findings of a BASW survey that was undertaken last year about the experiences of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) of the Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE).  There is an active ASYE survey, which can be completed now, so please take a look.

We have received a number of requests across the country to meet with social work students and very much want to engage members in as many activities as possible, so if you would be interested in finding out more or perhaps giving a presentation about BASW please contact Sharon, the England Administrator.

Work based BASW member meetings and events
Members have been in contact about developing work-based events, such as lunchtime seminars. The team will make every effort to attend and support your event whenever possible, so please contact the England office to see how we can help. 

Jersey Social Workers Network
Following contact with members in Jersey, BASW England will be supporting the development of a social work network in Jersey. This exciting opportunity highlights the determination, creativity and energy of social workers to come together to discuss good practice issues, the code of ethics, legal issues and the challenges of working in particular environments. Please contact Sharon if you would like more information about the Jersey network or if you are interested in setting up a local network in your area.     

BASW speaks out
As part of ensuring the social work voice is heard, the England team have been involved in a variety of meetings, forums, live radio discussions and Guardian online panel debates about the realities on the ground for front line social work, particularly in relation to recruitment, retention, serious case reviews and court proceedings.

We have also ben involved in discussing the issue of thresholds, including a presentation at a Westminster Education Forum seminar on Improving Child Protection Thresholds for Intervention, Thresholds for Neglect and Multi-Agency Working. 

We will be giving a presentation at a future Westminster Legal Policy Forum keynote seminar, titled, Reforming the Family Justice System – Challenges and Opportunities Ahead, taking place on 26 June. If you would like the opportunity to attend the session please let us know – there is just one allocated place so it may be names in a hat!  

We have been meeting with social workers located in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to discuss issues pertinent to this important sector. At a recent conference of social workers in the field Joe Godden talked about the challenges of maintaining professional social work identity in a service dominated by the health sector.

Integrated Services
The wish to develop integrated services for adults continues to remain high up the political agenda, nationally and at a local authority level, with all the main political parties viewing the integration of commissioning as the answer to the crisis facing social care and health. As such it was pleasing to hear, following a BASW England presentation to social workers in Torbay, how well these professionals are working with health colleagues within an integrated environment, which is sadly not always the case.

Elsewhere we are continuing to hear of different experiences about the impact of pooled budgets and competing priorities within integrated services. There are still tensions about how budgets are being allocated and at a time of great pressure on resources we can anticipate that there will continue to be conflicts, including tensions between practitioners who make professional decisions, and budget holders.

A key message from the England team is that whatever happens in the integration debate social workers are key to the success of integrated services and their role and identity needs to be supported, not marginalised.

The team and members have been busy working with Skills for Care & Development to produce some helpful apps linked to children’s social work which should be beneficial to social workers and social care staff across England. These will sit alongside short video clips aimed at encouraging people into social work. All these will be launched on 26 March and will be available on BASW website.

Finally … get your time back!
Members are increasingly sharing with us that they are not being allowed to take TOIL (time off in lieu), so is this something that you recognise and want us to campaign for on your behalf. Get in touch with your experiences and your views.