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Inspiring frontline stories and cake! BASW celebrates World Social Work Day

On Tuesday 20 March practitioners across the UK and beyond joined to mark World Social Work Day 2018, with BASW leading the way in a co-ordinated celebration that involved country teams SASW, NIASW and Cmyru.

Many inspiring social work stories were shared, such as Naomi Chingono who spoke at a BASW London event about values shaping her personal development.

This was exemplified in a case where she resisted her initial instinct of taking a child away from a family with complex needs who were proving to be duplicitous, choosing instead to work with the family to build a relationship that led to a better outcome for the child.  

Attendees also heard from overseas social workers, with practitioners from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan and Sierra Leone highlighting their unique challenges and sharing best practice.

BASW chief executive Ruth Allen said the “creativity and fortitude” shown by social workers in testing times was inspiring.

Shadow children’s minister Emma Lewell-Buck, a former child protection social worker, gave a speech in which she said her message to practitioners was simple: “Thank you for being brilliant and inspiring, but most of all keep changing the world.”

Later, Yvonne Fovargue, shadow minister (housing, communities and local government) took to the stage and invited BASW to help shape Labour’s manifesto on social care, before a massive cake with the emblem of World Social Work Day was ceremoniously cut and shared amongst all.

BASW was well represented up and down the country with Professional Officers speaking to BBC local radio teams about the history behind the day and current realities for social workers, as well as giving speeches at conferences in Worcester, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent.

Across the pond in Northern Ireland, NIASW’s World Social Work Day celebration in Belfast included a keynote from Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic on the role of social work during and after political conflicts, drawing on her experience of working in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She said it was excellent to have the chance to reflect “on what we can learn from each other across Europe and the world."

NIASW also launched a survey to examine the extent to which social workers in Northern Ireland have been subjected to intimidation, threats or violence while in practice, and to explore the impact of any incidents they have experienced.

At BASW Cymru’s event in Swansea, Professor Fiona Verity gave a talk about global poverty and migration and the need to practice social work sociologically.

Meanwhile, BASW Cymru Professional Officer Allison Hulmes, crafted a weeklong series of events with well-being and sustainability of the social work workforce being the theme. She said: “Unless we support social workers in maintaining their resilience and health, we’ll continue to face burn-out, stress and short career spans. This is bad for social work and damaging for those who need care and support.

“We also want to develop students who, from the start, learn the importance of looking after themselves – recognising when they need to pause, take a breath, seek out someone to off-load with and when to say, no.”

There were powerful stories shared up north too. At a SASW-supported event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, attendees heard Thomas Timlin, a newly qualified social worker, deliver an impassioned speech about the difference the kindness of social workers had made to him growing up in a care system he feels too often fails children.

In the evening, the dedication and achievement of social workers across Scotland was recognised when Childcare and Early Years Minister Maree Todd MSP presented the SASW Social Work Awards.

The annual awards were held in Edinburgh before an invited audience of 128 guests, including social workers and people who use services.  

BASW was also very active on social media, linking in with the International Federation of Social Workers, and receiving live tweets from across the country teams to ensure the organisation was unified in its celebrations.

Finally, BASW was part of a group led by chief social worker for adults Lyn Romeo that created a short Youtube film that was release on the day called This is for my social worker, aimed at encouraging people to think about becoming a social worker.