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SWU Blog: Shout Out UK workshop brings SWU to Year 10 students in Birmingham

This SWU funded workshop was a brilliant opportunity to engage over 100 young people with political literacy

Shout Out UK facilitated a workshop on the afternoon of July 13th for the Social Workers Union (SWU) to talk with the Bishop Vesey's Grammar School (BVGS) Year 10 students about social work and trade unions.

Shout Out UK (SOUK) works in schools and youth groups across the county to ensure that all young people receive Political and Media Literacy education, which is vital for fostering a generation of critically engaged and emotionally resilient citizens who can tackle misinformation and safeguard our democracy. A BVGS teacher remarked that, "Shout Out UK provided an excellent educational workshop for our Year 10 students."

SWU General Secretary John McGowan said, “I am delighted that SWU is supporting the great work of Shout Out UK, supporting spreading political knowledge to young people and supporting schools in Birmingham to run the Political Literacy programme that includes learning about social work. Hopefully our sponsorship of Shout Out UK will improve #PoliticalLiteracy. Workshops like these help students hone critical thinking skills and give them an opportunity to learn about workers’ rights and labour history, subjects that are often missing from classroom discussions.” 

Year 10 students sit at their desks in a classroom. They are looking at a projector screen showing the Zoom call with SWU General Secretary John McGowan for the Shout Out UK workshop on social work and trade unions.

In this workshop that was held over Zoom, John McGowan and Angi Naylor who is on SWU’s Executive Committee and is Chair of the Austerity Action Group (AAG) were on hand to answer some great questions asked by the students.

When asked about the austerity work that SWU is doing, Angi Naylor said, “There’s a lot of austerity work going on. The AAG is a group that SWU now funds because we believe we can’t do our job if the system’s not in place to support the clients we’re working with. And, as the government’s ripped away the benefits and lots of the services, it’s important to stand up for social justice – that’s what we’ve been doing with our union.”

One of the students typed this question into the chat box: Do you think the government should do more to support social workers?

Angi answered, “Yes, we do think the government should do more to support social workers because we are agents of the state; we are the people who carry out the government’s rules and regulations. But sometimes we don’t agree with those rules and regulations and at those time we are also agents of change. Which is why in 2017 we ended up doing the 100 mile walk from Birmingham to Liverpool to protest austerity – because they were peeling back some of the rules. The support that [the government] should be giving us is giving us better working conditions – which links to BASW and SWU’s Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions campaign.”

Near the end of the workshop John said, “We don’t often talk about all the great work that we do in social work. The reason why we do the job is because – I would argue – principally, you’ve really got to care about people and you want to make a difference.”

Lucie Spicer who is Head of Education and Technology at Shout Out UK said, “Delivering our core programme at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, generously funded by the SWU, was a brilliant opportunity to engage young people with the society they live in. The students were interested, passionate and ready to learn, and by the end of the programme, all of the participating young people had been equipped with vital skills for living in the 21st-century; critical thinking, emotional resilience, media literacy and public speaking.”