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SWU reveal winners of essay competition

Four social work students have written their way to £500 each

Social Workers Union (SWU) is delighted to announce the winners of their recent World Social Work Day Essay Assignment Competition.  

Syeda Amira Haque of University of Birmingham, Edward McKim of University of West of Scotland, Nadira Siddique of Leeds Beckett University  and University of Worcester’s Jennie Simpson wrote winning essays to the question: “How do working conditions need to change to create the most conducive environment for social workers to provide the best support for service users?”

Each winning entrant will receive £500.

John McGowan, general secretary of SWU, said: “I am delighted in the interest shown in this assignment and the 'Working Conditions’ topic appears to have stimulated student social workers in submitting entries in a very high number. 

Dr Jermaine Ravalier authors the annual review UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing and was one of the assignment markers. He said: “The standard of entry was very high – I was particularly impressed by the way that the essays clearly understood the impact that working conditions have in social work, and the ability to place this argument in the wider social work context.”

Another marker was PSW editor Shahid Naqvi, who commended the “breadth of knowledge and grasp of the issues expressed in these entries”.

Adding: “They combine interesting and often innovative ideas on how to improve working conditions for social workers with an understanding of why it matters for service users. Reading them was thought-provoking - and a reminder that often the solutions to social work are within social work.”

The four winner essays are available to read here.

Winning quotes

Edward McKim, from the University of West of Scotland, said: "I am completely over-joyed with this win and appreciate it so much. I once read somewhere that Social Workers are both 'firm-footed realists and clear-eyed idealists', I have come to realise that the glue which holds these two contrasting traits together is our unwavering values.

“We work with the reality of crushed time, budget cuts, high caseloads and lack of services but by holding onto our idealism, it gives us the hope of how it all should be.”

Jennie Simpson, from University of Worcester, said: ''I'm so pleased and surprised to have my essay recognised in this way. As I mention in my essay it is so crucial that social workers are well supported by their employers. They are the most valuable assets they have, and any investment given to them will translate into better outcomes for the people we serve.”

Syeda Amira Haque, from University of Birmingham, said: “It's been an amazing opportunity as an upcoming social worker to reflect on my future workplaces' working conditions. The working conditions for social workers are dire, impacting both, service users and the social worker.

“Writing this essay has made me realise there is a lack of credible research that validates the plights that social workers face, which means the problems are not identified and, therefore, go unaddressed.”

McGowan added: “SWU and BASW will continue to campaign on Better Working Conditions for Social Workers and it is good to see that future social workers have a deep understanding of this and the importance of getting working conditions right for new social workers.”

Further information