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SWU Blog: UN Anti-Racism Day 2021

SWU supports this international day of action to unite against racism, antisemitism, anti-Roma racism, Islamophobia, Sinophobia, and fascism

20 March 2021 is UN Anti-Racism Day, organised by Stand Up To Racism and the TUC. Events will take place this Saturday in cities, communities, and online where people from around the world will come together united against racism, antisemitism, anti-Roma racism, Islamophobia, Sinophobia, and fascism. Participants also stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants, letting those in power know that fanning the flames of racism to distract from failings of the Government will not be tolerated.

The growth of the Black Lives Matter movement has shone a fresh spotlight on racism both in the UK and internationally, and the COVID-19 epidemic has starkly shown the structural racism and health inequalities faced by Black and ethnic minority communities who have been disproportionately impacted by this ongoing crisis.

All this has helped to raise awareness in mainstream media that racism is not just an isolated series of incidents or events perpetuated by a few ‘bad apples’; racism is baked into so many facets of our lives including social structures and institutions. This includes the institution of social work. 

If you are currently experiencing any workplace issues you can Talk to SWU in our upcoming free webinar on March 31 from 6-7pm. All social workers in the UK are welcome to attend this webinar and talk directly to SWU Legal Advisor Paul Scholey, SWU General Secretary John McGowan, and Advice & Representation Officers Julie Long and Laura Sheridan. The event is set up so that all questions can be asked anonymously.

In a recent blog BASW’s Advice and Representation Service highlighted the fact that black, ethnic minority and disabled practitioners face ‘disproportionate’ difficulties passing ASYE. Social Work Employment Services (SWES) – the only not for profit ethical umbrella company provided for UK social workers – notes that agency social workers who have not completed their ASYE experience disadvantage and a lack of opportunity in applying for posts. Kate O'Regan, Company Director at SWES states:

“We are working in partnership with SWU through a formal recognition agreement to implement their six point action plan. Action four requires agency social workers receive parity in how they are treated in the workplace.

We have heard of situations where social workers cannot apply for agency posts because they have not completed their ASYE. We think that this is another form of discrimination by exclusion as local authorities sometimes restrict the number of ASYE posts available. We think that there should be consistent rules applied in an anti-discriminatory way, and we are in discussion with Skills for Care to establish whether we can become an ASYE provider. Widening access will improve professional standards.”

Further reading

This week we celebrated the launch of OUTLANDERS: Hidden narratives from social workers of colour (from Black & other Global Majority Communities), a landmark publication that was compiled and edited by Wayne Reid and Siobhan Maclean. It showcases a rich and diverse collection of essays, poems, stories and reflections from social workers from Black and other Global Majority Communities.

Wayne Reid who is a social worker, Anti-racism Lead for BASW, and Anti-racism Visionary said, "The anthology specifically encapsulates the perspectives of Social Workers of colour in England. I’m really honoured to be involved with a publication of this calibre and distinction. Each contribution is priceless!"

Earlier this month Jade Forbes, a social worker and AMHP, published a blog for World Social Work Month that reflects on how anti-racist Social Work can be developed and practiced across Wales. In the blog Jade writes:

"Our aim is to create a network of black, Asian and ethnic minority Social Workers in Wales and create an all-Wales anti-racism forum which in time will extend to a further invite for anti-racism-allies to join with us.

We have the power to support, listen, encourage healing and most importantly to bring about change."

BASW Cymru has put together a range of recommended resources to support the development of anti-racist practice when working with Romani and Traveller families. It is an opportunity for social workers, students, social work educators and social work leaders to begin the process of being educated in understanding the disadvantage and racism experienced by Romani and Traveller families and how they can start to become change-makers.

You may also be interested in the 4 February 2021 episode of BASW’s Let’s Talk Social Work podcast that discusses racial justice issues in the USA and explores the priorities of the Biden Administration.

Upcoming Events

Call to BASW Northern Ireland members

BASW NI is committed to improving and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion—both in the social work sector and throughout society more widely. Key to this work is the formation of a BASW NI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. We understand that there are significant barriers to equality and inclusion and seek to represent all voices and make a positive change through BASW NI’s campaigning activities.

It is our mission to make a positive difference and go above and beyond the legal duties of equality.  Our aim is to gain representatives from all backgrounds, including those from the protected characteristics but not limited to. We aim to improve representation from across all groups.

Your voice matters and we are keen to hear from individuals who are passionate and have experience in this area. We are particularly looking for BASW NI members who are not currently represented on any group or committee. We also welcome those who are keen to share the views of others who are underrepresented but may not wish to share their individual voice. We promise to create a safe space for all representatives to share their experiences, views and ideas.

If you would like to volunteer to join the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group please contact BASW NI Professional Officer, Michelle McMaster at michelle.mcmaster@basw.co.uk.