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EDI and anti-racism in social work: From words to actions

BASW Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead Officer, Narinder Sidhu, reflects on our EDI work so far

Narinder Sidhu - BASW Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead Officer
Narinder Sidhu, BASW EDI Lead Officer

BASW UK has been working hard behind the scenes with our members and stakeholders to tackle discrimination within the social work profession and wider society.

We recently shared our anti-racism statement and EDI statement to show our continued commitment to equality and inclusion across all identities and characteristics. We strive to lead and support others to take a more proactive approach.

So what have we worked on so far? 

Over the past six months, we have responded collectively to many Government calls across the UK for further information and support on equality issues relating to protected characteristics; offering social work perspectives and suggestions to create change for a fairer society. 

These consultations have proved invaluable for BASW UK to meet our shared objectives with key partners. They can be viewed on our EDI and anti-racism web hub.

A few examples of our inclusion work to date include: 

Our EDI strategy is gaining real momentum

My role, which I took up in February 2021, is focused on developing and implementing BASW’s EDI strategy across Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. I hope to continue to drive forward and build further on our current projects and create more innovative projects which support inclusion across all relevant sectors in social work and with partners. 

We cannot achieve our EDI objectives without our valued members and allies - particularly those from communities and groups experiencing exclusion and discrimination, within social work and in society.

My role is to consider Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in its widest sense. I am keen to develop BASW's understanding of intersectionality – how identities and characteristics intersect to make us all unique individuals. 

In my first six months, I have been focusing on several specific underdeveloped areas in BASW and across social work:

  • LGBTQIA+ Action Group

In order to support LGBTQIA+ equality and inclusion initiatives and progressive policies and manifestos across the governments of the UK, I have set up a LGBTQIA+ Action Group jointly with SWU. 

This will support BASW UK to shape social work practice in collaboration with those with lived experience and those with specialist knowledge.  

We are also in the process of arranging LGBTQIA+ training next month so watch this space! 

  • Neurodiversity within social work

We're discussing neurodiversity within social work with key partners to consider how we can support social workers and effective practice in this field.

  • Using data to build a clear picture of EDI issues within social work

I am working collaboratively with all four social work regulators to support the collection of EDI data, to better understand the equality and diversity issues within regulation and fitness to practice.

Looking forward

I envisage the next six months to be just as exciting and impactful. Below is a selection of themes that form our vision when working collaboratively with others to achieve a sense of belonging for all:

  • Celebrating human connection which is key in any equality and inclusion work
  • Promoting and sharing best practice
  • Raising awareness, challenging labels and changing perceptions
  • Promoting and celebrating diversity, equality and social justice 
  • Promoting inclusion and identity acceptance. Building new communities and cultures with a strong sense of belonging for all
  • Educating SW’s, SW students, multidisciplinary practitioners (e.g. Health, Education, housing, police etc), those we serve and wider society. Improving and refreshing social work education and training to equip social workers to understand and challenge oppression and social injustice effectively
  • Exploring and unpicking the taboo that exists in communities which often leads to further division
  • Creating a safe platform to capture unheard voices and review the impact of our work
  • Providing a platform for all to celebrate achievements
  • Adopting an intersectionality-informed approach to make change happen within the social work profession and wider society
  • Providing a blended approach using a variety of communication modes to allow choice of access and engagement for our members and stakeholders
  • Creating clear opportunities for members and those with lived experience to interact, engage and co-create with BASW
  • Encouraging staff input and creating a stronger sense of belonging and allyship.
  • Offering a wide range of CPD opportunities
  • Measuring our impact and learning from our journey
  • Gathering feedback from our members and partners; being reflective and learning from our journey.

Ultimately, our goal is to ensure social workers from all backgrounds and communities feel supported and enabled to practice across the UK - we'll be sharing regular updates with members as we continue this journey.