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BASW at Labour and Lib Dem party conferences

Our fringe events focused on our APPG work on mental health services

This year’s BASW fringe events at both the Labour and Liberal Democrats’ party-political conferences have yielded a growing recognition among party members of all stripes that social workers are facing a real uphill struggle to deliver the type of service that they are trained to provide.

BASW’s Public & Political Affairs Officer, Madeleine Jennings, was one of a few BASW staff at both fringe events and was instrumental in the preparation work done beforehand with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work.

This work consisted of an inquiry into the role of social workers in mental health services, which concluded with several recommendations and an outlining call to bring the social model of health into clinical healthcare settings to aid recovery of mental illness and distress.

“Our focus this year was on social approaches to mental health,” said Madeleine. “With a white paper on mental health legislation due before Christmas, there has been no better time to make sure that social work voices are heard in the policy process.”

Our first ever event at the Liberal Democrat conference was packed to the rafters and there were some great audience questions from a range of mental health professionals.

There was a similar response at the Labour Party conference. Interesting feedback we received included a question from a young member whose Mum, a veteran social worker, felt that austerity had changed the nature of the job forever.

“The party conferences continue to be a great opportunity to reach policy makers, especially local councillors, who have a real influence on how services are funded and delivered,” said Madeleine.

“It’s also a great change to meet with organisations who share our concerns and to forge contacts with new partners from the voluntary, political and government sectors.”

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