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BASW Chair blog

Gerry Nosowska on her first week

11-15 June was not a typical week for me. It was the week that I took on the role of BASW UK Chair. However, the BASW activities I was involved in that week give a real flavour of the range, values and impact of BASW’s work. So I thought I would share the highlights.

Monday 11 June: People

Monday started with a handover from the outgoing chair, Guy Shennan. The main message for me was the importance of BASW being a member-led organisation; led by our members’ passion for social work and its ability to change society. I then attended BASW’s Service User and Carer Involvement reference group. A wide group of people with lived experience gave their time, expertise and enthusiasm to helping us figure out how we can do better. People talked frankly about being a lone voice, the impact of austerity and pressures on social workers. Together we planned how people with lived experience can co-produce our work to improve the context and social work practice.

Tuesday 12 June: Activism

At the Fringe Event before the Conference and AGM in Cardiff, a group of members, led by Guy Shennan, completed their Boot Out Austerity march for social justice. Panel members including Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood, Jen Dafin from Psychologists for Social Change and Adam Johannes from Cardiff People’s Assembly talked passionately about social work’s potential to combat cuts.

Wednesday 13 June: Profession

I spoke at the Conference about my belief that we can and should own our professional identity, ethics and expertise. We heard from speakers across the UK about real difficulties and about a sense of optimism, with examples of social work building on what we know is good such as Northern Ireland creating social work posts in primary care.

I was in the workshop that input to BASW’s anti-poverty practice guide - a concrete example of creating something that will help us make a difference. At the AGM members passed two motions. One was to campaign across the UK for the removal of the Universal Credit two-child cap and associated ‘rape clause’. The other was to campaign to bring pressure to bear to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive. Our profession is committed to political action for social justice.

Thursday 14 June: Support

The Social Work Union executive invited me to attend their meeting. I heard about the growth of the union and its local contacts, and the way it supports social workers. One part of this is the campaign with BASW to improve working conditions so that we can offer good help to children, adults and families.

Friday 15 June: Practice

I had my final meeting with the Adults Practice, Policy and Education Group in England. This fantastic group of caring social workers has just been enhanced by Service User and Carer representatives who have joined. We have been working on the adult social care Green Paper to ensure there is a proactive view from social work about what is needed so that we can practice ethically and helpfully.

BASW does so much to strengthen social work, support social workers and influence the context of social work. I am proud to be part of this organisation.


Nosowska speaks at 2018 AGM