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A Global Profession

BASW Chair, Gerry Nosowska, discusses BASW’s role in Europe and beyond

Social work is a Global Profession. Around the world, we all share the same identity, purpose and ethics, grounded in the International Federation of Social Workers Global Definition 2014 that we are:

The British Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics, and our social work practice across the UK is based on the global definition.

In a world that is full of divisions, borders and disputes, this global identity is a deliberate signal of unity. Across the world, social workers strive for a shared purpose. This gives me hope.

BASW is the representative for UK social workers to the International Federation of Social Workers. We attend IFSW meetings, give the UK perspective and learn from others. A report on the last global meeting in Dublin July 2018 can be found here

In September, the BASW Chief Executive, the Chair of the International Committee and I went to Vienna for the IFSW Europe meeting. There were 24 countries present and we made progress on:

  • Values – BASW’s Jane Shears, who is the Europe representative on IFSW’s ethics commission, led a workshop on how we are using our global ethical principles in each country to influence learning and practice and what we can do to further promote; we worked on plans to increase inclusion in international events (this includes how we will involve more practitioners, people with lived experience and early career social workers in BASW’s European conference in Birmingham on 23 April next year)
  • Relationships – we found out about each other’s struggles and strengths, and we built connections
  • Support – we committed to helping each other with our struggles, including our European colleagues endorsing a paper from BASW and the Irish Association of Social Workers to raise concerns about the impact of Brexit
  • Influence – we heard how IFSW Europe representatives work with European partners to promote social rights as part of human rights work, including at the Council of Europe where Ruth Allen is the new representative, and on the European Anti-Poverty Network where Fran McDonnell, BASW International Committee members is the representative.
  • International – BASW’s International Committee chair David Jones presented on his work on the global agenda for social work which is being developed up to 2030. 

The delegates meeting was followed by a conference which BASW members attended through our International Development Fund bursaries. The message from this was A Social Europe is Possible. We must keep working for social rights for all people.

The Irish and UK associations agreed a joint statement which was endorsed by delegates, making clear the social work implications of Brexit and asked for support from all delegates and the IFSW Europe Executive through writing to the UK government about the risks and implications identified.

Joining with other countries and working across borders reminds us that social work should not be dictated by the political or social culture we happen to be in. Instead, social work draws on the best of humanity to increase inclusion and to promote all the ways that people can thrive.

Social workers who want to be more involved in international aspects of social work can:

Finally, look out for a review of the three-day IFSW conference 2019 by Ruth Allen in the next PSW.

Further information