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BASW England Statement on ‘Anti-Racism, Anti- Discrimination & Anti-Oppression in Social Work’

BASW has adopted UK wide position statements on equality, diversity and inclusion, committing the association to anti-oppression and anti-discrimination in all forms, in line with our (revised) UK Code of Ethics. BASW has also adopted a statement of commitment to anti-racist action.  These statements can be amplified by country statements of commitment and action. 

This BASW England position statement has been formulated based on the feedback of members, social work academics, practitioners, managers, and students. 

As an Association, we have tirelessly advocated and championed the values and ethics of anti-oppressive practice, equality, human rights, and social justice.  We have long campaigned against structural inequalities and highlighted the impact of inequalities on many citizens in our society including marginalised and vulnerable groups.  

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 England will seek the views of our members to aid and assist us in campaigning on this.

BASW England stands in solidarity with the diverse Black, Asian and other UK Ethnic Minority communities - including (but not limited to) Romani Gypsy, Traveller, Muslim, and Jewish communities - against oppression and marginalisation

We must all stand together in social work as allies to fight institutional and structural racism and social injustices wherever they occur and work together to promote a society based on equality and justice.

BASW England works collectively and proudly with all those who stand with us to tackle discrimination, inequality, and racism in all of their manifestations.  We value Ethnic Minority social workers and stand with them shoulder to shoulder.  As across the whole of BASW, we 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 England will continue to promote intersectionality and emphasise the links between oppressions and the additional, compounded marginalisation experienced by many individuals and groups.  We will 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 will support our members to engage with us and lobby your local MPs and other politicians to take action.

BASW England recognises that the association still has much more to do in order to truly live up to our social work ethics and act as a role model and a leader in this field. We will take the necessary action to make positive change.  Our immediate priorities are as follows:

  • To work effectively with the BASW UK Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Group to Council to progress agreed action plans to support social workers and social work.
  • To work productively with the BASW Anti-racism Lead for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales/Cymru Lead and BASW Equality, Diversity & Inclusion UK Lead in all our anti-oppression work.
  • To review the Professional Capabilities Framework in respect of its anti-oppression and anti-racism content and ethos.
  • Contribute to the advisory group for the Workforce Racial Equality Standards for Social Care (WRES) convened by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).  
  • To work with colleagues across BASW to join with the International Federation of Social Workers regarding an international response to the ongoing effects of institutional and structural racism.
  • To raise awareness, educate, empower, and equip social workers of black, Asian and minoritized ethnic communities and promote allyship through a range of innovative activities.
  • To collaborate with a range of stakeholders and partnership organisations to promote anti-racist, anti-oppressive and ant-discriminatory values and ethics in social work policy, practice, and education. 
  • We 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. We will also continue to offer additional support to members who have experienced racism within in their learning environment or workplace via our mentoring services.
  • We 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. 
  • BASW England 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. We 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.
  • BASW England will support and encourage the further development of equality, diversity and inclusion employment policies and practice in BASW to act as a role model. We recommend that social work employers 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 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 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 with discrimination, oppression, and racism.  BASW England will not remain silent.  We will continue to aspire and evolve in accordance with our 2025 Vision to ensure the welfare of ALL of all members of society is at the forefront of all that we do.

BASW England National Standing Committee