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BASW Chair Gerry Nosowska reflects on latest International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) meeting

Our profession remains strong and sustained by the ethics and purpose that we share with our sister organisations across the globe.

BASW is the UK member of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), the international network for social workers.

Every year, delegates from IFSW member organisations in Europe meet. This year’s meeting should have been in Birmingham as part of our 50th birthday celebrations but sadly this couldn’t happen because of the pandemic. In recognition of this, BASW hosted an online social event with our Birthday Playlist and a quiz.

The meeting brought social workers together in friendship at a time when we are all missing human connection. Over recent months we have shared experiences and learning, and we committed to further activities to provide peer support and professional development across the region. Through our International Development Fund, BASW members have helped to fund a book from IFSW about the social work response to Covid-19. The book was launched at the event and is freely available to all.

Human rights were central to the meeting. We heard from IFSW Europe representatives to the global IFSW Human Rights Commission, Council of Europe, European Social Platform, European Anti-Poverty Network, United Nations and other bodies where we speak up for social work ethics and influence policymakers. Thank you to Fran McDonnell, Jane Shears, Ian Johnston and all who give their time as representatives.

BASW led a discussion about social workers’ experiences of populist policies. We heard examples from across the region of social work associations standing up to policies that harm the people we work with and impact on their rights. IFSW Europe members committed to supporting each other to challenge harmful policies and to develop practice approaches that will help social workers.

IFSW Europe also committed to additional work to support unaccompanied children and refugees (this will support our work to oppose No Recourse to Public Funds), and to joining Eurochild (this will support our anti-poverty work).

For the first time, the meeting included a group of student and young social worker representatives as part of IFSW Europe’s commitment to the next generation of social workers. The representatives, including Nadeen Brown and Omar Mohamed (who is chairing) from the UK, highlighted the importance of raising awareness of global social work in each country.

BASW will continue to support IFSW’s work to strengthen the impact and influence of social work. This meeting was a reminder that our profession is strong and is sustained by the ethics and purpose that we share across the globe.