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Social workers across borders join together

More than 150 social work professionals joined together from across the whole of Ireland to celebrate WSWD at the event hosted by BASW Northern Ireland in Dundalk.

The event theme ‘Social work professionalism: Promoting values and empowering identity’ set out and explored the shared commitments between the two social work professional organisations – The Irish Association for Social Work and BASW NI- and the two NI regulators.

Aine McGuirk, IASW chair welcomed everyone to the event and opening remarks were made by Sean Holland, Chief Social Work Officer, Department of Health (NI) and Michelle Clark, Chief Social Worker, Department of Children & Youth Affairs (ROI).

BASW NI host the event for World Social Work Day 2019

Dr Gloria Kirwan, Lecturer in Social Work in the Dept of Applied Social Studies at Maynooth University, gave a keynote address on “Re-affirming Professionalism: Opportunities and Challenges”.

Carolyn Ewart, National Director, BASW NI and Aine McGuirk, IASW chair then set out a new partnership project: ‘All-Ireland enabling professionalism project’, which will build on their joint commitment to work together on the challenges and opportunities for social work.  They also pledged to continue to work together despite the complex challenges faced around Brexit.

Sean Holland, Chief Social Work Officer, NI

It was a fantastic opportunity to for social workers from across the borders to come together to share their experience North and South, to learn from each other and to reassert a shared identity.

The event highlighted how social work professionalism and identity are interlinked and working in partnership, to empower with a rights-based approach is key.

Patricia Higgins Interim CEO NISCC and Colin Reid BASW NI Chair shared feedback and provided closing remarks for the event.

BASW NI event

Carolyn Ewart, national director for BASW NI said: “It was really important to us to do an all-Ireland event, to state clearly our commitment to our common goals, which is underpinned with the launch of the ‘All-Ireland enabling professionalism project’.

“We know from service users and social workers that there is a clear need to challenge bureaucratic systems and the profession must lead discussions on professionalism.

“This is an opportunity for social workers to articulate their unique contribution, their skills, their role and their values and ethics.  This is not a one off, we will be doing lots more together!”

Many thanks to everyone that delivered and supported our workshops:

  • Service Users Perspective on Professionalism.  Facilitated by Dave Milliken Service user and Co-Chair of the Belfast Trust Local Engagement Partnership
  • Professional in Practice: How CPD shapes professionalism.  Workshop was jointly facilitated by NISCC and Coru
  • How do we sustain professionalism in an age of bureaucracy?  Facilitated by BASW NI and IASW to explore social workers views on what it means to be a professional and the importance of professional identity. To examine how the rise of bureaucracy has impacted that and look at what we need to do to re-assert our professional pride.
  • The importance of social work professionalism when working internationally.  Facilitated by Orlaith McGibbon and Marcella Leonard both independent social workers who work internationally.   Shared their experiences of working in New Zealand, Australia, Gibraltar, Eastern Europe and supporting the development of the social work profession in Oman and Abu Dhabi.
International workshop with Marcella Leonard