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NIASW Roadshow Update

During September and October NIASW held a series of roadshows across Northern Ireland, providing an opportunity for social workers to meet with the NIASW team and for non-members to learn about the benefits of joining the Association.

Roadshows were held in each of the five Health and Social Care Trusts and provided a useful forum to directly engage with social workers and explain NIASW’s work to champion the interests of the profession.

We were pleased to discover attendees were keen to talk, and when we discussed the findings of our recent workload survey report, Above and Beyond, the findings clearly resonated with participants.

Attendees were provided with the research findings in an easy to digest infographic which highlighted 88% of social workers in Northern Ireland regularly work additional unpaid hours, representing a saving to the Health and Social Care sector of £11.4 million annually. Above and Beyond also identifies half of social workers have at least one vacancy in their team, the burden of unnecessary bureaucracy still needs to be lifted, and many social workers are struggling with increasingly complex cases.

During our conversations NIASW staff explained the research was not conducted solely to identify problems faced by social workers – it was undertaken to also identify solutions. Participants were briefed about our ongoing campaign to present these solutions to policy makers, social work employers and our politicians, to affect positive change for social workers.

In addition to highlighting NIASW’s campaigning, the roadshows also enabled our Chair, Marcella Leonard, to hear from non-members about why they had not yet joined their professional association.

Discussions on this topic were a valuable learning experience for NIASW, as common among reasons for non-membership was a lack of awareness of the role and activities of the Association. Attendees pointed to the need for NIASW to have a greater presence via ongoing engagement with social work teams.

In response we are developing a targeted programme of engagement, with visits scheduled with social work teams across the region over the coming months. We are also encouraging new joiners to make use of the NIASW membership offer. When joining, new members can get their first two months of membership for free by including the text “BASW16” on their online or hard copy application form.

As a team we have been greatly encouraged by the value of direct engagement with social workers. This is demonstrated clearly by a significant increase in our membership in the weeks following the roadshows.

If you would like to schedule a visit to your social work team by a member of NIASW staff please contact the NIASW office – we will be happy to facilitate you. We also encourage all NIASW members to continue to spread the word amongst your colleagues about the benefits of membership and of our work to deliver real change for the profession.