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BASW England report - April 2014


It has been a busy time for the England Team, members and branches. Thanks to you all - by working together we achieve so much more. This report details some of that activity and hopefully will encourage you to get involved in the work of your professional association, if you are not already doing so.

Planning for World Social Work Day has been exciting and we will be celebrating this at the COMPASS exhibition in Birmingham on 19 March. The programme for the annual England conference in Bristol is now confirmed and we are delighted to have an interesting programme of presentations, including the two Chief Social Workers for England Lyn Romeo and Isabelle Trowler; three other key speakers and a good range of workshops. For more information and to make an online booking visit

The Care Bill: This is likely to become an Act in April. The final stages of the Bill were dominated by a debate about a clause that would give the Secretary of State the power to close hospitals, which rather overshadowed an amendment tabled by Paul Burstow to allow a Power of Entry to social workers in circumstances where there was concern about a vulnerable adult. This was disappointedly defeated. There was, however, an indication from Norman Lamb that the Government may be prepared to accept an amendment in the Lords, proposed and pushed hard by BASW, to include provisions to bind all providers of regulated care services by the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998, including self-funders. BASW members will be involved in commenting on the pending draft guidance and regulation.

Adult social care: The National Audit Office recently published a report which says that the Government does not know how much longer the adult social care system can cope with rising demand and falling budgets: BASW were contributors to the report.

Mental Capacity Act: Last autumn, two members of the BASW mental health reference group gave evidence at the House of Lords select committee on the subject of the Mental Capacity Act. The final report supported the Mental Capacity Act principles, but said that the “the empowering ethos has not been delivered, the rights conferred by the Act have not been widely realised and the duties imposed by the Act are not widely followed”. This concurs with the verbal and written evidence given to the Committee by BASW members Robert Nisbet and Anna Ribas Gonzales (see BASW website for details).

Children in care: Members of the team were involved in a ‘roundtable event’ to again try and introduce parity between young people in in foster care and those in residential care to ‘stay put’ past their 18th birthday. Issues around standards and costs appear to be blocking progress, although it is good to see this very much on the government’s agenda. We also produced a response to the Education Inquiry into the 16 plus Care Placements.

The Children & Families Bill: This is now an Act and we would welcome your views in seminars. If anyone is interested in hosting, facilitating or leading a seminar on this, or the Care Bill, please let us know.

Supervision: We were delighted to be asked to co-chair the ‘Shape of Things to Come Conference’ convened by Knowsley Local Safeguarding Children Board with BASW member Nigel Parton. The key theme of the day was supervision and delegates heard contributions from a diverse range of speakers including Oliver James, Steve Goodman, Ann Potter and Julie Bindell, who talked about the contemporary challenges faced by practitioners and provided them with strategies designed to promote reflective practice. 

One of the presentations by journalist, writer and researcher Julie Bindell was particularly timely as Julie has been involved in the global campaign to end violence against women and girls since 1979. BASW England contributed to a submission by BASW’s International Committee last month into an Inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights into violence against women and girls which can be found on the BASW website. This coincided with international women’s day on 8 March and it was good to see London commemorate it with an award ceremony for the achievements of refugee and migrant women which was part of the WOW (Women of the World) festival.

Branch events and seminars: Congratulations to the Black Country Branch and Derby and Nottinghamshire Branch for co-ordinating and facilitating two very stimulating events: the Black Country Conference: ‘Social Work in a time of Austerity’ and Derby and Nottinghamshire seminar: ‘Understanding Masculinity and Sexual Abuse: The problem of men and the implications for male professionals in the caring professions’.

A key message from members at the Black Country event was the importance of reclaiming ‘relationship based social work’ with the children, families and adults that we work with as well as with each other and our colleagues. Members commented that working in a climate of austerity also has a direct impact on professional working relationships and the importance of re-connecting with each other, making time to say hello to colleagues, to go out for lunch or arrange a team or networking event and to share the challenges and explore solutions of what can be achieved by working together in such a tough climate.

The Derby and Nottinghamshire branch seminar focused on masculinity and the role of male professionals working in the field of child sexual abuse. The presentation by Joe Druce was thought-provoking and challenging. Joe will be running the same seminar at the England Conference, so book your place early.

Similar issues regarding the importance of relationship-based social work practice were raised at the joint BASW and Centre for Social Work Practice Conference ‘Contemporary Issues in Relationship Based Practice’ on 14 March.

Partnership work and networks: There have been ongoing meetings with Lyn Romeo who would welcome membership contributions on the following thematic areas.

o   The role/contribution of social workers in working with people with autism and their families

o   The social work role in post diagnosis support for people with dementia

o   Evidence of the impact of social workers in any specific area in improving the outcomes for people and their families. (Please e mail if you have examples you would like to share).

We have been having meetings with MP’s and the judiciary to raise the profile of social workers and to discuss the fantastic job that you do – the rewards as well as the challenges in the current climate. Parliamentarians are particularly interested to hear from those with expertise in the field and this is certainly borne out by some of our recent experiences of members being invited to give evidence to parliamentary select committees. It is important that social work has a strong and authentic voice in these debates.

We also had a very positive meeting with The Right Honourable Sir James Munby, who is committed to the expertise and professional standards of social work and would like to meet with BASW members in the future. 

The Department for Education are asking for input on setting priorities for research in education and children’s services. If you have ideas, do share them with us.

BASW has been invited to meetings with the CQC to discuss quality care in acute mental health services and NHS England to input into the Clinical Commissioning Group on Forensic Mental Health Services and the ‘Time to Change’ roundtable summit on how mental health staff can help reduce stigma and discrimination. Active members are all representing BASW at these events. If you would like to get involved in consultations, roundtable meetings or in any other way, please do contact us.

Political manifestos: What are the top three issues you would like to be included in party manifestos? Please respond with the subject title ‘Manifestos’ and send your response to

Dates for your diary

30 April: England Annual Conference (Bristol)

21 May: The Public Law Outline – court work for social workers (Kent Street)

23 June: Adult Community Care Assessments and Paperwork (London)

15 June: Using Critical Enquiry in Social Work (London)