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The Social Workers Union (SWU) is delighted to announce the winners of our World Social Work Day 2021 Essay Assignment Competition

Four social work students have each won £500, and two additional outstanding entries have been awarded prizes as well

Matthew Davies of Cardiff University, Joseph Llewellyn of the University of Gloucestershire, Marissa Bruneau of the University of Dundee, and Ruth Wormington of the University of Bristol wrote winning essays to the question: 

“I want to make a difference" is a common phrase used by social workers and students when asked why they joined the profession. So is choosing to become a social worker a political decision as well as an action and, if so, are all social worker’s activists by default? Discuss.”

Each winning entrant will receive £500. Two additional entries were deemed by the markers as outstanding – Charmaine Hall of Manchester Met University and Rebecca Salama of Kingston University – and they will receive a social work book. 

John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, said, “I am delighted in the interest shown in this assignment and this topic focusing on activism appears to have stimulated student social workers in submitting entries in an extremely very high number; indeed, the highest ever for this competition.” McGowan added, “SWU will continue to support the Austerity Action Group and work as a union to promote activism. It is good to see that future social workers have a deep understanding of this, and this is important for new social workers.”

Carol Reid, SWU National Organiser and member of the Austerity Action Group was one of the assignment markers.  She said, “It has been a pleasure to read through the excellent contributions to this competition and I'm delighted to see the level of understanding and commitment to activism of our future social workers. I hope it has encouraged an interest in collectivism and campaigning as well as a recognition of the importance of trade union membership as pivotal to activism.”

Another marker was Geraldine Nosowska, BASW Chair, who commended the assignments: “These essays were full of thoughtfulness and passion, a signal of the impact this next generation of social workers will make. It was a pleasure to read them and be reminded of why we become social workers."

Carys Phillips, SWU Chair, added, “Student social workers are the future of the profession and the essence that the 'personal is political’ was a resounding acknowledgement in the complex work we encounter. Unions, activism and collaboration in the COVID Paradigm we inhabit places the Social Work profession at the centre of articulating the need for equality, rights and inclusion. These essays demonstrate our profession will rise to the challenge and be the difference... Be More, Speak Up, Join In."


The four winning essays are available to download as a PDF (click here).


Winning quotes from the four winners

Joseph Llewellyn of the University of Gloucestershire said: “Registering with BASW and SWU was one of the first things I did after securing a place to study Social Work at the University of Gloucestershire. It’s been great to learn more about SWU’s history over the past several days. A big thank you to SWU for selecting my assignment as one of the four winning entries, and congratulations to the union and all its members on a successful 10 years!

Matthew Davies of Cardiff University said: “I am delighted to have my submission selected and look forward to reading the other assignments. I would like to pass on my thanks to SWU for running the competition and providing the opportunity to discuss such a pertinent topic. It is difficult to quantify the impact of a decade of austerity has had on social care, and the future looks more uncertain in a post-Covid world. However, I wholeheartedly believe it is vital students, social workers, academics, and other professionals continue to advocate for those in need and the services that support them.”

Ruth Wormington a first year MSc Social Work student at the University of Bristol said: "This assignment was a great opportunity as I am deeply interested in feminist activism and social work research and hope to work in policy-based research around children and young people."

Marissa Bruneau of the University of Dundee said: “I am really delighted and grateful to be one of four winners of the award as a second-year social work student. It was wonderful getting to take part in the competition and carrying out further studies on the social work profession. I am passionate about social work and aspire to work towards a career in the youth sector or with a women’s organization.”


The winners of SWU’s World Social Work Day 2021 Essay Assignment Competition were announced on the final day of SWU’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.