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November Council – Reasons to be hopeful

BASW Chair, Gerry Nosowska, reports back on the latest Council meeting

Council met on 20th November in our BASW Cymru Office in Cardiff.

It was good to see BASW Cymru staff and members and, particularly, to meet Chris and family. Chris is an incredible activist, who spent time on the streets himself, and founded Left Outside Alone with his wife Kelly. They go out bringing friendship, food and hope to roofless people in Cardiff.

People like Chris are a reminder of the potential for activism within social work. During Council we were discussing our campaign aims – including to End Homelessness. To make an impact we need to take direct action and we need to collaborate with people that know what is most effective. BASW Cymru has helped give Chris resources, extra hands and a voice. As we build our End Homelessness campaign, we will look to partnerships big and small where we can give a boost.

This includes launching our BASW Christmas card for this year. You can download the image to send with your greetings and make a donation. All money will go to shelters that we support near our offices in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

In the first half of 2020 we have three important events – we are convening the UK Standing Conference for Social Work on 5 March in Salford; we are hosting the International Federation of Social Workers Europe conference on 23 April in Birmingham; and we are  holding our own UK AGM and Conference on 22-23 June.

Each of these give us the opportunity to showcase the best of social work, explore difficulties, and take action. They will focus on Integration, then Ethics and finally Heritage and the Future of social work. We are planning how we will make these events truly diverse and inclusive, and ensure that the discussions, decisions, relationships and actions that are formed make an impact.

We are building our work on Human Rights, under the leadership of our Policy, Ethics and Human Rights committee. On 10 December we are launching an overview of the International Context and a Practice Guide. December 10th is International Human Rights Day. It is also just before the General Election – a time when we need to remember that fundamental rights for all people are what keeps a society on firm ground.

We have just launched a Manifesto for Social Work for the General Election. We encourage all social workers to vote and to help ensure others can vote. And to use this Manifesto to consider which candidates offer the best hope for the future – for social workers and the people we serve. Please send this Manifesto to your candidates and ask their commitment to the vital safety net we provide and to social rights for all.

We finished Council by ratifying two new Branches – Staffordshire and Lincolnshire. Groups across the UK, where social workers get together to support, encourage each other and learn, are fantastic catalysts for change. It is heartening to see the growth in these.

I came away from Council feeling inspired by BASW’s energy and ethics.