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England report - June 2014

England Conference and Annual Meeting: A big thank you to members, staff, guest speakers and workshop leads for your fantastic contribution in the planning and delivery of the England Conference and Annual Meeting. The event was a great success and we have received very positive and constructive feedback about the content and location. We want to hear your views so if you have not completed an evaluation from please click here to complete an online survey. Your feedback will shape and inform the planning process for next year. We also want to hear from you if you are interested in being involved in future events and the England Conference.

Appointed England Committee Members: We would like to congratulate the following England BASW members who have been voted on to the England Committee for a term of two years: Richard Servian, Manisha Patel, Neil Clarke and Jo Smith (student representative). Thanks to everyone who stood for election – we really value your ongoing engagement and support. Special thanks to Iain Brown and Bhag Jassal, who will be leaving the England Committee, for their significant contribution to BASW and the England Committee.  

It was good to see such a high turnout of members specifically interested in setting up a local BASW network at the England Annual Conference in Bristol. We look forward to working with you and making this happen. We would also welcome other members in different parts of the country getting in touch with the England Office if this is also something they would like to pursue. We know BASW groups in regions and localities can be an invaluable source of support, professional development and debate.

Campaign and media work: BASW is really pleased to see emerging media interest in the role of social workers within adult services. The series Protecting our Parents has shown just how complex and how skilled social workers working with older people are. We also took part in a good online discussion about the programme. Similarly, it is heartening to see the tabloid press taking an interest in social care funding, the Care Bill and the social care sector generally.

The debate following the Panorama expose of poor care at Oban House and the Old Deanery has rightly condemned the totally unacceptable behaviour of some care staff, but also recognised the system of care and the societal attitudes towards old age really do need closely looking at.

This is an issue that affects us all: one in three women and one in four men aged 65 today are likely to need care, while most people do not have an annual pension income sufficient to meet care costs (The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries). As the Protecting our Parents programme showed, social workers recognise and understand the complexities of the commissioning of care services and the importance of human rights and other legislation when decisions are made about care. BASW are also really pleased that, together with partners, our campaign to amend the Care Bill to apply human rights legislation to care commissioned by the public purse has been accepted at the last minute by the House of Commons. On the same theme of promoting and explaining social work to the public, BASW are happy to have been invited by England’s Chief Social Worker for Adults Lyn Romeo to submit examples of social work with adults that shows good practice. If you want to contribute to this please contact Joe Godden.

Members and the team have continued to proactively engage with the media on a variety of social work professional themes including social work retention, the impact of cuts on service delivery, changes to statute, adoption, social work education reform and the changing role of social work in both children and adult services.  Please contact us if you would be interested in becoming a media spokesperson for BASW England.       

Conversations about substance misuse: It was great to be at ‘Conversations about substance use: engaging families in social work practice’ which was convened by the BASW Special Interest Group on Alcohol and other Drugs. This event is being put on in all four countries of the UK given the universality of the issues. The seminar was ably led by Rhoda Emelyn-Jones OBE who provided participants with an array of tools in working with families affected by substance use, such as promoting a relationship based approach, which has garnered a lot of support through initiatives in recent years to reclaim social work.

It was a truly inspiring day with lots of opportunities for group work so that participants could put the learning into action. We hope the rest of the UK finds this seminar of great benefit and look forward to hearing the feedback.

With the advent of the Children and Families Act 2014 in April, adoption has very much been at the forefront of things. This culminated in a live debate on BBC 5 live in May, where BASW member Janet Foulds providing a good balance alongside Martin Narey. This has also coincided with an excellent four part series on ITV called Wanted: a family of my own which, like 15,000 Kids and Counting, has shown very effectively the realities of social work practice in adoption and won the profession a lot of friends. We certainly need more programmes of this kind!

Our role in national conferences: We were pleased to chair a national conference on the ‘Changing Landscape of Children's Services’ where the multi-agency audience focused on the future of working together to safeguard children. The emphasis on community responsibility and the importance of services such as the fire brigade in safeguarding was emphasised along with the need to share responsibilities, not just with the statutory services, but all those in the community to safeguard children.

Branch seminars: Derby branch held another successful lunchtime practice seminar for busy social workers and students. Prison Works? led by BASW chair of Criminal Justice Reference Group, Francis Boylan, provoked discussion and debate. Check our events calendar for future Derby events.

Professional Reference Groups: If you would be interested in joining any of the professional reference groups please contact The BASW England Professional Development Reference Group are keen to recruit new members, if you would like more information please contact Sue Kent.