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BASW Chair would walk 100 miles to proclaim against austerity

Boot Out Austerity! Social Workers Walking For Social Justice

Recent years have seen a re-emergence of long walks of protest inspired by the 1936 Jarrow marchers among others, including the People’s March for the NHS in 2014 and Walk The Talk by a group of psychologists in 2015. BASW Chair Guy Shennan is now issuing a similar call to action to social workers to protest against the Government’s austerity measures and call for more socially just alternatives.

Mr Shennan will spend seven days walking with social workers, service users, carers and others from BASW’s head office in Birmingham to Liverpool (around 100 miles). The team will leave Birmingham on Wednesday, April 19 and arrive in Liverpool on Tuesday, April 25, the evening before BASW’s AGM. They plan to visit food banks and social care provision under threat along the route and to hear accounts of the devastating impact austerity has had on people’s lives.

Explaining the need for social workers to take action, BASW Chair Guy Shennan said: “Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. There is a growing awareness the financial crisis of 2008 did not require benefits to be reduced or essential public services to be cut. The devastation this has wrought was graphically depicted in the remarkable film, I, Daniel Blake, and social workers know many real-life equivalents of Ken Loach’s fictional characters.

“Social workers see the effects of austerity every day in the misery and hardship it brings to people’s lives and are saying enough is enough. We also see the resilience of the people who use social work services, and continue to find constructive ways to work alongside them, retaining hope in the face of adversity.

“We need to work collectively in teams committed to partnership working. We need to form alliances and work together with service users and carers. We should reclaim advocacy and welfare rights work as central features of the social work role. Being members of professional associations and trade unions enables us social workers to speak out and also support service users and carers to publicly speak out, in a way that can sometimes be difficult to do in our employee roles.

“This walk is an opportunity to let the government know how passionately we feel about austerity's impact on the people we serve and also to highlight what social workers can do in response, including by celebrating the good practice that we will find along the way.”

BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen commented: “This is co-production in action; strengths-based social work enables a collaborative process between social workers and services users and can bring communities together. We can literally put our best foot forward to show resilience in the face of adversity.”

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