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BASW pays tribute to Tessa Jowell

Tessa Jowell was praised as a humane politician who stayed true to her social worker roots by the British Association of Social Workers.

Tessa, who passed away after a courageous fight against brain cancer over the weekend, worked as a childcare officer in London before qualifying as a psychiatric social worker. She went on to be assistant director of mental health charity Mind.

Rising to prominence under the New Labour Government, she was praised for having set up the Sure Start programme providing early help to thousands of families across the country.

Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive of BASW, said: “Tessa’s compassionate and determined approach to politics and making things palpably better for people feels so linked to her roots in social work.

“Her much-lauded creation of Sure Start - a universal service for children and parents breaking down barriers between people in communities and enabling them to share common solutions to common human challenges in parenting and growing up - speaks volumes about her understanding that our social, physical and mental health as a nation is rooted in living well as communities and having a fair start in life.

“It speaks of her belief that more equality benefits us all. And given its particular benefit for women, it speaks to her grounded and effective feminism.”

Dr Allen said politicians like Tessa were not to be taken for granted adding: “All politicians court some controversy and Tessa is no exception, but few leave such a legacy of humane values, renowned kindness and a huge ability to make things happen.”

BASW Chair Guy Shennan added his tribute, acknowledging the respected politician’s social work beginnings and the significance of her political achievements.

“Tessa Jowell was a social worker in all senses of the role, working both with children and in adult mental health, and then with the campaigning charity, MIND, and she took her social work values with her into first local and then parliamentary politics,” he said.

“She will be remembered for many political achievements, not the least of which was the setting up of the Sure Start programme, one of the most important initiatives of the New Labour government.”