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BASW England’s Doing the Best Together review

Listening was the theme of the day as adults with learning disabilities engaged with social workers

Last week, BASW England held a day long conference at the Greenwood Centre in Camden, London to ensure the voices of adults with learning disabilities were heard to inform our development of the Capabilities Statement.

Over 60 people attended the event, including users of the centre (which is run by Camden Disability Group), social workers, academics and BASW staff.

BASW chief executive Ruth Allen opened the event by welcoming everyone and stressing how important it is to get the voices and lived experienced of service users into the formation of the Capabilities Statement, in order to guide social workers on best practice.

BASW England national director Maris Stratulis chaired the event and introduced several speakers.

Jackie Marrow and Jill Huntesmith, both service users, were first up and bought along a friend – a puppet named Jargon John – to gently warn social workers they would be ‘fined’ if they used social work jargon that service users find difficult to understand. Jill used the word ‘scenario’ as an example.

Dr Sara Ryan from the University of Oxford and a JusticeForLB campaigner, gave a moving account of her son Connor Sparrowhawk’s life before he died of drowning aged 18 whilst in an NHS care unit, as well as her struggle for justice afterwards.

Numbers were crunched by Professor Chris Hatton from Lancaster University, showing the changing age, population and needs of people with learning difficulties.

Meanwhile, engagement from the audience, especially service users was high. One such contributor was Jide Akinibiyi, who used the ‘ask a question’ aides issued by BASW to challenge speakers on the use of personal budgets for service users.

BASW staff Becky Reynolds (professional officer) and Godfred Boahen (policy and research officer) delivered a presentation on the progress of the Capabilities Statement so far, as well as how events such as these would help frame the final development.

There were further contributions from Betty Moore, giving a carer’s perspective, Laura Carter and Liz Jackson from Stoke on Trent local authority providing a social worker’s view, as well as three engaging workshops.

Lyn Romeo, chief social worker for adults at the Department for Health & Social Care, wrapped up by stating she felt we were “on our way to creating something really great with the Capabilities Statement”.