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BASW Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group position statement

BASW will continue to campaign against racialised political discrimination, which has been magnified under Covid-19 and ‘hostile environment’ policies.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) is the professional association for social work in the UK with offices in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales/Cymru. With nearly 21,000 members we exist to promote the best possible social work services for all people who may need them, while also securing the well-being of social workers working in all settings.

BASW wholly condemns the recent murder of George Floyd, and the frightening circumstances that surround it.  We would like to make our position on this clear to all within and outside of social work.  We are fundamentally against police brutality and all forms of racism and will not allow the circumstances surrounding this tragedy to be diluted or overlooked.  Watching a fellow human being die in a brutal and inhumane manner is disturbing to all right-thinking people. Millions across the globe have witnessed such horror inflicted on a person of colour – again.  The involvement in this tragedy, of those entrusted to protect and serve, is symptomatic of the root causes of racism - which has to be eradicated.  

BASW stands in solidarity with the diverse Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities who stand against racism in the US, UK and globally, and supports the statement from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the USA.  We recognise that racism and social injustice are institutionally, structurally, and systemically deep-rooted in all public and private institutions to varying degrees. We call for organisations to properly acknowledge this as the first step in addressing this scourge on society.  We in BASW refuse to be silent on these issues.

This latest tragic episode of police brutality (and murder) again brings into sharp focus the unacceptable racism that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities face in their daily lives.  These communities are not homogenous – as stereotypes so often render them – but share experience that is often negatively racialised by cultures, structures and power systems and may include Gypsy Travellers, Roma and Jewish people.  

We must understand that racialised violence remains a problem in the UK - not just the USA.  The sad examples of Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Mark Duggan, Leon Briggs, Istiak Tusuf and many others must not be forgotten.

We must stand together as one to fight institutional and structural racism and social injustices; and work together to promote a society based on equality and justice.

BASW works collectively and proudly with all those who stand with us to tackle discrimination, inequality and racism in all of their ugly manifestations.  We value our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority social workers and stand with them shoulder to shoulder.  BASW will continue to support social workers to uphold the rights of all who have lived experience of social work.  We work in unison as one race - the human race.

BASW will continue to campaign against racialised political discrimination, which has been magnified under Covid-19 and ‘hostile environment’ policies.  The Government should not remain resistant to change on these issues.  We urge you to engage with us and lobby your local MPs.

There needs to be systemic change within social work - for our social workers, the people we work with and all of society.  Oppressive policies and systems, both local and national, must be removed or reformed to work towards a more egalitarian society that takes account of the lasting impact of historical inequalities.  Social workers play a key role in reforming these systems and promoting human rights.  We will tirelessly work to ensure that everyone in the UK is safe and free to live their lives feeling valued and included.  BASW will seek the views of our members to aid and assist us in campaigning on this.

BASW Council, our Board of Directors, recognises that the association has a great deal to do in order to truly live up to our social work ethics and act as a role model. Council acknowledges our own historic and current failings in this area. BASW will strive to take the necessary action to support positive change.  Our immediate priorities are as follows:

  • The BASW Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group will formulate an action plan for sign-off by the BASW Council, to support social workers in tackling institutional and structural racism.
  • BASW will where possible work with the International Federation of Social Work regarding an international response to the ongoing incidents of racial violations.
  • BASW will formally communicate our solidarity and support to NASW.
  • BASW will continue to seek answers as to why people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic  communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and provide guidance for those more at risk.
  • BASW urges members to contact their MP to call for action to fight racism, social injustices and to condemn the murder of George Floyd.  You can find your MP here.  We will work with BASW networks, branches and groups to support them to work with, and where necessary canvass their local MPs (see the attached letter template).
  • BASW will share this statement with the Foreign Secretary and USA Ambassador and call for an end to the very visible racial oppression of black people in the USA.
  • BASW will write to the Commissioner of Police with a call for an end to the disproportionate criminalisation of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people in the UK.  We will recommend the Police to independently evaluate their practices for de-escalation and ‘stop and search’.  Also, we will recommend that Police training must incorporate rigorous and mandatory racial awareness training with evaluation of it impact on practice.
  • BASW endorses Black Out Day on 07/07/20 and encourages everyone inside and outside of social work to do so too. 
  • BASW will continue to advise and support our members who experience racism within their workplace via our Advice & Representation Service and in affiliation with the Social Workers Union. BASW will also continue to offer additional support to members who are victims/survivors of racism within in their training environment or workplace via our mentoring services.
  • BASW will continue to update our members and supporters on our progress monthly via Professional Social Work magazine, the BASW website, ebulletins and other accessible channels/platforms.
  • There are a number of protests taking place in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  We recognise that it may not be possible or advisable for people to travel to and take part in protests due to the pandemic, but that we know members and social workers want to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  So we invite members to take a photo of themselves with a Black Lives Matter sign (download here) or a sign of your choice and to post it on social media, display at home etc and share with us online.

BASW will continue to support and empower social workers to confidently tackle all forms of racial abuse. Our education and professional development resources aim to support social workers to confidently question, discuss and challenge racism in all its manifestations. BASW will support our branches and groups to hold necessary discussions on racial inequalities and bring these to light so we can work collaboratively to address these.  We will advise and support our branch leads and group chairs to facilitate honest discussions about ethnicity, race and culture.

We will continue to work on our own equality, diversity and inclusion. We recommend that employers of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority social workers should review their current policies and practices in relation to how they differentially impact on racialised people.  All organisations should make the necessary changes to systems and practices to address and eliminate racism towards their employees and the people they serve. This includes unfair workloads, excluding groups from career progression, and making employees feel undervalued and unseen.  We recommend all management, human resources and staff attend and engage in regular mandatory training on unconscious bias and racial awareness.  Employers should also allocate and provide a ‘safe space’ where Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority employees can meet periodically for peer support and agree ways to make positive change. It is important that employers seek solutions from qualified and reputable professionals in this area and work collaboratively with their Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority staff.  It is also imperative that employers publish relevant statistics on ethnicity and race transparently for public perusal in line with the Equality Act 2010.

Given our knowledge that organisations are at times avoidant, we emphasise that silence on racism is complicity.  BASW will not remain silent.  We will continue to aspire and evolve in accordance with our 2025 Vision to ensure the welfare of ALL of society is at the forefront of all we do.

‘One world, one race… the human race!’

Narinder Sidhu (Chair of the BASW Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Group)

Wayne Reid (Advisory Group Staff representative)

Hári Sewell (Advisory Group Council representative)

Gerry Nosowska (BASW Chair)

Ruth Allen (BASW Chief Executive Officer)

Maris Stratulis (National Director, BASW England)

For further information please contact the team at edi@basw.co.uk