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BASW England social work conference 2019 review

Two-day conference focused on the power of relationships in social work

Over 350 social workers, NQSWs and social work students attended BASW England’s social work conference in Leeds last week.

Split over two full days, the conference comprised the Student & Newly Qualified conference and the annual Social Work conference.

A host of exciting speakers, engaging masterclasses and lively debates ensured the two conferences were insightful and informative.

A video montage of BASW England's annual social work conference 2019

Annual review

It has been another busy year for BASW England with plenty of important practice driven work with the Department of Health and Social Care, coupled with preparations for a new regulator and strong advocacy for social workers through effective campaigns.

Highlights outlined at the conferences included sector leading work on the Capabilities Statement and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Pathway to support social work practice with adults who have learning disabilities and the Capabilities Statement for Social Work with Autistic Adults.

The 80-20 Campaign promoting relationship-based practice goes from strength to strength, gaining more partners across the sector, widening the conversation to government and Ofsted, as well as garnering further media attention.

In addition, there have been scores of important consultations to allow the sector’s voice to have influence on social work policy on a national level, including the development of the new regulator Social Work England, as well as over 300 events covering specific areas of practice development.

Meanwhile, on a local level, further branches have been created with more in the pipeline, an indication said BASW England chair Andy Gill of “how pivotal and valued we see the role of branches in supporting members”.

There have been comings and goings on the BASW England committee. A warm welcome to Erin King, Rob Mitchell, Dr. Rukhsana Farooqi and Emma Grady (student rep), and a heartfelt thanks to Julia Wassell, Kathleen Henderson, Elizabeth Njenga, Tony Singh Kalirai and outgoing PPEG Chairs; Daisy Bogg, and Lee Birrell Smith. Chair Andy Gill and Vice Chair Angie Bartoli were re-elected to their posts.

There was also an exciting sneak peek into the work BASW has coming up in the future of digitisation in social work. With the launch of the project, Digital Capabilities for Social Workers (co-produced with SCIE), BASW CEO Ruth Allen emphasised how BASW is committed to ensuring social workers will be at the forefront of shaping what digital means in social work practice rather than it being driven by others.

Speakers & masterclasses

The Student & NQSW conference gave the next generation of social workers a range of interesting discussions and viewpoints for them to digest while on their educational journeys.

Keynote speaker Mary Busk, a Family Carer Advisor at NHS England and mother of three children one of whom has a learning disability and autism, spoke about how a ‘good’ social worker works with partners to ensure the best start in life for children and young people with autism, a learning disability or both.

An insightful debate on diversity followed, with a focus on gender identity and transgender issues. The panel included social workers with lived experiences.

The Power of Relationships in Social Work was the theme at the Social Work conference and a unique perspective of this was given in an energetic talk by Ian Lawrence a.k.a The Samurai Social Worker in which he replayed his own experience of being detained under the mental health act.

Further informative, and very personal, perspectives on this theme were shared by the Family Rights Group and their Parents Panel. A clear distinction was made between ‘good’ social workers, the ones who tried to build constructive relationships with parents and children, and the “not so good” who practiced via process and numbers.

A varied spectrum of masterclasses was available to delegates across the two days, ranging from Digital Dilemmas to Social Work Intervention during Disasters to an introduction to Social Work England.

A broad selection of these keynote speeches and masterclasses are available here.