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New staff join BASW as organisation steps up commitment to anti-racism and wider equality, diversity and inclusion action

Together, they will work collaboratively with members and colleagues to support the delivery of BASW’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy

BASW UK has announced three new part-time roles as part of its commitment to embedding equality, diversity, inclusivity (EDI) and anti-racism across the organisation and the wider social work sector.

Shantel Thomas has joined the association as Anti-Racism Lead with a focus on Anti-Racism in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. BASW England's Professional Officer Wayne Reid has moved into a dedicated part-time EDI lead role with a focus on Anti-Racism in England, while continuing half time as Professional Officer in the BASW England team. Narinder Sidhu has joined as an EDI lead with a focus on Disability, LGBT+ and gender identity and rights, and on intersectionality. 

Together, they will work collaboratively with members and colleagues to support the delivery of BASW’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy - alongside exploring how anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice can be developed and implemented across the social work sector.

 Dr Ruth Allen, BASW CEO, said: “It is fantastic to have Shantel, Narinder and Wayne with us to provide their expertise, energy and commitment to BASW’s EDI work and influence. I am very clear these colleagues will not carry all the responsibility for change - even though I am confident they will make a great impact in their own right. My hope is they will catalyse further change, knowledge, confidence and action amongst all staff and lead members so we can make tangible progress as an organisation and across the social work sector. This will help us ensure BASW feels like a professional home for all social workers in the UK – and if it doesn’t, know we will hear that and take action.”

Shantel Thomas, BASW Anti-Racism Lead, said: “As the anti-racism lead working across the UK, I could feel a huge weight on my shoulders - but just like safeguarding, dismantling the systems that perpetuate racism is everybody’s business and it will take a collective movement to bring about the changes that are essential and long overdue. The conversations have started which is great, but we need to move to systematic actions and change. My focus over the next 12 months will take a 2-pronged approach – I want to look at BASW as a leading social work organisation and begin dismantling systems from the inside-out. And as an academic, I am particularly interested in social work education and the experience of student and back the campaign for anti-racist education to reclaim its rightful place - front and centre of the social work curriculum.”

Narinder Sidhu, BASW EDI Lead, said: “BASW is committed to making much-needed change across all areas of oppression. My focus over the next 12 months will be on inclusion and anti-oppression across the UK in relation to disability, sexuality and gender identity. This will include intersectional issues which means how oppressions are compounded and individual experience is defined by the lived complexity of our identities – for instance, as LGBT+ black men or women, or transgender people with disabilities. 

 “I pledge to call out and challenge all forms of hate and discrimination within the social work profession and wider society. I want to ensure BASW celebrates differences and creates a culture of effective action and allyship. This includes making social work more inclusive for our social work students, our social workers and those with lived experience of social work services - for the betterment of society as a whole. I hope to work collaboratively with all BASW teams, Council, the EDI Advisory Group, the wider membership, SWU, social work regulators and stakeholders across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to address the experiences of discrimination where BASW can make a difference.”

Wayne Reid, BASW Anti-Racism Lead and BASW England Professional Officer, said: “My new role is a half-time secondment as anti-racism lead with a focus on England is for 12 months working with my other EDI lead colleagues who will take a lead on different areas, but with overlapping and common purpose. I will continue to be a Professional Officer for BASW England in the other half of my time. My big plans for the future of anti-racism in social work in England and in BASW include: enhancing my anti-racism presentation and reaching further; emboldening and developing the Black Professionals Symposium; campaigning for anti-racism, anti-oppression and anti-discrimination to be included explicitly in regulatory standards; promoting action on anti-racism of all types in England and the rest of the UK; exploring and challenging the disproportionate representation of social workers of colour at fitness to practice hearings; developing initiatives on ‘authentic allyship’ and I’ve had discussions with several publishers about further writing. 

“These endeavours are not an exhaustive list and my objectives will develop in collaboration with my colleagues. I have some other embryonic ideas and I want to listen actively to all of my colleagues, peers and the sector in order to develop strategies and nurturing change. I do not undertake this work in isolation, colleagues have fully embraced and supported this work in BASW and wider, and my anti-racism work will be further enhanced by BASW’s development of wider work on anti-oppression and intersectionality.”

Interviews with Shantel, Narinder and Wayne - which will give further details and personal perspectives on the new roles, and EDI and anti-racism more generally - will be released over the coming weeks.