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Quarterly update from the Scotland Team

The SASW team share an update on what your professional association in Scotland has been doing for you over the last 3 months

In the 3 months since we last posted an update, the SASW team have been doing a lot on behalf of our members in Scotland…


The 7th to 14th of October was Challenge Poverty Week, where we raised awareness of the impact of poverty on families – and the BASW Anti-Poverty Practice Guide. We shared how foodbank referrals have become an every-day part of social work practice across Scotland – with social workers even using their own money to make sure families have enough to eat - with the press. This, and the Anti-Poverty Practice Guide made it into The Herald, The National and The Evening Times.

In late October we held our Annual MHO Conference at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh with over 200 delegates. Our dedicated forum members assisted shaping the content along with regular partners Social Work Scotland, Scottish Government, SSSC and Learning Network West who all offered workshops. Our Ambassador Jo McFarlane both opened and then closed the event with the presentation of the MHO of the Year Award to Mark McIlwraith from West Lothian. Jo is a poet and author who talks openly and honestly about her traumatic childhood and the MHO support she had over 18 years, meaning the voice of lived experienced was reflected throughout the day. She also helped us arrange two workshops - one of which she led with psychotherapist John McCormack and one from the North Ayrshire ‘Involved’ peer-led service. We welcomed John Scott QC, Chair of the Independent Review of Mental Health and Incapacity Legislation, as well as Dr Ian Cummins, Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford, who spoke about the medicalisation of poverty and themes in his book, “Mental Health Social Work Reimagined”.



In November, we started planning for the SASW/BASW 50 year celebrations from June 2020 to June 2021. We will be sharing more about what we are hoping to do in Scotland in 2020, so keep an eye on the bulletin, website and our social media platforms.

During the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, we attended a parliamentary debate on violence against women in Scotland and we are still actively working to produce the domestic abuse practice guide in collaboration with Scottish Women’s Aid. Sarah McMillan is working on becoming a certified trainer for the Safe and Together model so that SASW can offer this at a competitive rate to members and introduce non-members to the association.

We’re already busy planning events for next year, firstly on World Social Work Day in March our Community of Practice for Children & Families Social Workers are holding an event at Cyrenians in Falkirk. “Building Connections on World Social Work Day” will bring the themes discussed in the Community of Practice to a wider audience, to encourage greater participation and focus on practice issues and solutions. We will be having an input into the BASW UK standing conference in Manchester on 5th March. Also, at the end of April, we will be holding our first ever Annual Conference, “Asserting Social Work in Uncertain Times”, in collaboration with the University of Dundee. This conference is open to all social workers from across Scotland and will consider how we assert our contribution and champion social justice in gritty practice spaces within integrated teams. We are also heavily involved in and financially supporting the bi-annual Pride in Practice event for children and family social work June 23-24 at Strathclyde University.  

You can find out more about the Community of Practice Event, here and our Annual Conference, here.



We continue to work, as ever, on working conditions and wellbeing in our profession. We are working in collaboration with our colleagues in England on the social worker wellbeing toolkit. Our Professional Officer Karin has carried out several inputs about the importance of reflective and peer supervision as core parts of being a social worker and has presented at universities across Scotland on the importance of being a member of SASW.

We are in the process of lobbying MSPs for sponsorship to create a Cross-Party Group on social work at the Scottish Parliament, to raise awareness of key issues affecting front line practitioners and the people they support. This, we envision, will provide a forum to input to the next 5-year Scottish Government social services strategic plan, in a public forum where key stakeholders across the sector can get involved. We hope to raise awareness across the political spectrum as social work seems to get buried underneath the importance of health and education as universal services.

We have secured meetings in January with the Liberal Democrats, Greens and the SNP, but are yet to hear back from Labour and the Conservatives.

Get in touch with our Communications and Policy Officer, Emily Galloway if you would like to take part.

Following the success of last year, BASW are offering the opportunity for members and non-members to send a BASW e-Christmas card instead of Christmas Cards this year – and in turn is asking for donations to local homeless shelters across the UK. We are crowd-funding for FourSquare in Edinburgh, whilst colleagues across the UK are crowdfunding for Birmingham Christmas Shelter, Welcome Organisation in Belfast and St Mary’s Hostel, North Wales Housing in Bangor. All the money raised will be shared across each shelter. You can donate to the Christmas Card, here. 

Every day throughout the month of December, the SASW team have been adding to a reverse advent calendar, which we plan to donate to Edinburgh North West Foodbank in Tolcross just before Christmas.

The SASW Team would like to wish all our members a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2020.

We look forward to what the new year will bring, and to continuing to champion the voice of the social work profession.


Further information