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Hate crimes show why social work's values and ethics are needed in the world

BASW England Manager Maris Stratulis reflects on how the horrifc murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and the Orlando massacre underline the need for the values and ethics at the core of social work - and why the profession must hold onto them

Social work’s values have no place for homophobia, hate, bigotry, social injustice and inequality. Last month, 49 people died in the attack on the LGBT community at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, America. These were daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. Days later we reeled from the murder of Jo Cox MP, a mother, sister and daughter as well as friend and colleague. She was also a politician who stood up for human rights, social justice and equality and underlined the importance of unity, public service and democracy.

Representing people and delivering public services is an incredibly rewarding job but one that carries risks. MPs, social workers, teachers and education staff, police, health workers, firefighters and many others all play a role promoting democracy and delivering essential services. We must value and hold on to this. In the Orlando massacre, people helped each other where they could. In Birstall, a 77-year-old man was injured when he attempted to intervene to help Jo. Such acts represent humanity, decency, compassion - principles that underpin our profession.

Being a leader in social work is not about job titles, status or salary but about standing up and being counted, listening to the views of others and never losing sight of our value base.

As a profession we respect difference, promote kindness, reach out to others across the globe, stand up for justice and deliver high standards of practice.

Every day social workers make complex ethical and human rights decisions within the context of the law. We have an integral role in promoting social justice and equality but how often do we get time to discuss values and ethics in our working environment?

The Professional Capabilities Framework also reinforces our obligation to apply our ethical principles at all levels of the profession, but this can be compromised when new systems or statute is being introduced.   

So we must stand united around the things that matter to us and ensure our values and ethical principles are always set by the profession and owned by the profession.

The new Children and Social Work Bill sets out a variety of clauses with far reaching implications and I urge all of you to read it and feedback your views to BASW. It proposes the setting of professional standards by the Secretary of State. It allows a local authority in England to be “exempt” from requirements imposed by children’s social care legislation and to “modify” the way in which children’s social care legislation applies to an authority. Such measures could potentially pave the way for more privatisation.

Meanwhile, the roll out of assessment and accreditation for social workers with children and families to be tested against the knowledge and skills statement (KSS) is pending. Workshops for the employer endorsement element of this have commenced. Although there are as yet no plans for testing to be mandatory, some believe it’s just a matter of time. Likewise for extending assessment to practitioners in adult services in line with the KSS for social workers with adults.

In a climate of change, we must unite to ensure the values and ethics our profession hold dear are not taken away from us. We must stand up for social work because in so doing we are standing up for those people who most need our services.

Our thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family, those murdered in the Orlando massacre who are listed below and the many other victims off hate crimes in all its forms across the world.

Stanley Almodovar III, aged 23

Amanda Alvear, aged 25

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, aged 26

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, aged 33

Antonio Davon Brown, aged 29

Darryl Roman Burt II, aged 29

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, aged 28

Juan Chevez-Martinez, aged 25

Luis Daniel Conde, aged 39

Cory James Connell, aged 21

Tevin Eugene Crosby, aged 25

Deonka Deidra Drayton, aged 32

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, aged 31

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, aged 25

Mercedez Marisol Flores, aged 26

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, aged 22

Juan Ramon Guerrero, aged 22

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old