BASW blog: 'Voice, visibility - action'
Come to BASW’s Annual General Meeting and be part of a movement for a better society
Our chair, Gerry Nosowska, on how you can influence the future direction, priorities and values of BASW via our Annual General Meeting (AGM).
'I did not want to go to my first Annual General Meeting. I didn’t really have time, I didn’t know anyone and I wasn’t really sure what would happen so thought I might somehow be spotted as an outsider. I went because I had a feeling that this organisation could do important things and I wanted to be part of it somehow.'
At BASW, we want our Annual General Meetings to be a place where people come together to shape something that matters.
BASW is more than an association of people or a provider of support or a campaigning organisation – though it is all of these. It is a movement. We have a vision for how society can be – where everyone is respected and belongs - and we know that social work, alongside people with lived experience, can help achieve this.
We gather together to gain wisdom on how to do better for social workers, for social work and for everyone in our society. A wonderful bonus is the friendships that arise as we spend time with people who inspire and support us.
At the Annual General Meeting there are reports – BASW leadership has to give account to members of what we have done. But more importantly, members have their say on what BASW should be doing. Members bring proposals for action (motions) and everyone votes on whether to adopt these.
Over the three years that I have been Chair, members have pushed us to act on equality, diversity and inclusion, and on human rights injustices - such as lack of housing and appalling institutional care. Members have prioritised environmental sustainability, the wellbeing of social workers and the involvement of people with lived experience. Members have brought specific issues into our action plan including education around social work with Trans people or with Gypsy Roma Traveller communities. Members have specified legislation they want us to fight such as the universal credit two-child cap.
The Annual General Meeting is where all members’ voices can be heard. It is where BASW sets out what we stand for and what we will be seen to do. It is where coming together leads to action.
We look forward to seeing you this year, especially if it is your first time. We need you. Social work is a force for good; let’s harness that force together.
'This will be my first Annual General Meeting with BASW. In the past, in all honesty, I’ve probably felt that I’d be out of my depth in meetings like this and that it wouldn’t matter to the organisation whether I attended or not. I probably worried that if anyone spoke to me it would reveal how uninformed I am and that these meetings are for more experienced people or for the leadership. In reality, the AGM is the perfect opportunity to learn more about what BASW is working on and to be a part of the community.'
We join BASW because we have a shared vision for social work and society. The AGM is where we can share our voice and shape the work that BASW does.
For example, I am now vice-chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisory Group, having started as a member/attendee as a newly qualified social worker. I have seen first-hand how views and suggestions of the group have influenced BASW’s EDI Action Plan, and the advisory group members continue to provide feedback and advice now to the EDI Project Group.
Every voice is important and BASW wants to represent us. At the Annual General Meeting, BASW leadership will be providing updates on the work done so far on the various projects, including the EDI Action Plan. The AGM is where the membership can have transparency and accountability from the leadership.
Ahead of the AGM, members have had the opportunity to put forward ‘motions’ for things BASW should commit to and future AGMs are the chance to hold BASW to account on progress made with motions that were passed the previous year.
In the pre-meeting activities, there will be spaces to speak with our fellow social care colleagues from all of the four nations, from different avenues of social work and ranges of experience. The chance to realise we are part of a profession much bigger than the silos of our own teams, local authorities or organisations. The need to feel connected is more important than ever, when many of us are working under more strenuous conditions, more isolated than ever and with the people we support experiencing greater adversity.
Whether you are a current member or considering joining, attending also gives you the opportunity to see that your values align with those of the association. You can hold the leadership to account and ensure BASW is representing the interests of the membership. We can pool together to agree on what is important to us as social workers and campaign for a better society.
I would encourage all to attend the Annual General Meeting on September 15th, so we can garner our passion, energy and experience together to be a force for change.