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Launch of the ‘Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman and Boater (GRTSB) into Higher Education Pledge

I was honoured to be invited to speak at the launch of the 'Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman and Boater (GRTSB) into Higher Education Pledge’ which is jointly supported by the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Social Work Association (GRTSW Association) British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Joint University Council for Social Work Education Committee (JUCSWEC).  I would like to give special thanks to Dr Janet Melville-Wiseman the Chair of JUCSWEC, for reaching out to the GRTSW Association and offering her encouragement and support.

When we set up the GRTSW Association one of our motivations was to ensure social work becomes more inclusive and to act as role models for our communities. We want to say; ‘social work is a profession for you, it needs you to act as change makers and be the difference our communities need to build mutual trust and understanding’.

Social work must change the way it understands and responds to the needs of GRTSB communities if we are to live up to our social work ethics and values as a human rights profession committed to equality and social justice. Structural racism is a reason that GRTSB communities do not have equal access to higher education and there is no ‘last acceptable last form of racism’ despite this much referenced and repeated assertion!

We aim to reach out to all higher education institutes that offer social work programmes in the UK and encourage them to promote equal access to higher education in GRTSB Communities by signing up to the Pledge.

Five pathway universities have already signed up to the Pledge and you can access information on their journey, along with information on how you can join them, here  https://bucks.ac.uk/about-us/gtrsb-into-higher-education-pledge  

We call out to all social work students to get behind the Pledge, ask your institutions to sign up and live the values of anti-racist and anti-oppressive social work practice.

Allison Hulmes

National Director of BASW Cymru and co-founder of the GRTSW Association.