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BASW conference 2022: A social work for the future

It was fantastic to see everyone come together once again to celebrate and champion our profession - and look ahead to the future.

Last week BASW welcomed more than 370 members, social workers, friends, allies and people with lived experience to our UK conference and AGM.

The two-day event, held 16th and 17th June 2022 was our first in-person/online-hybrid conference since 2019, was held at the University of Birmingham.  The AGM was held on Friday 17th June 2022.

We want to say a massive thank you for the contributions of our keynote speakers, workshop facilitators, people with lived experience and exhibitors - as well as to every person who attended, whether in-person or online.

It was fantastic to see everyone come together once again to celebrate and champion our profession - and look ahead to the future.

Dr. Ruth Allen BASW UK CEO opened the conference

Reflecting on the conference, Dr. Ruth Allen BASW UK CEO, said: "It was exciting and rewarding to hold the BASW conference and AGM face to face and online – our first true hybrid event.

"We had waited such a long time for our two days on the beautiful campus of Birmingham University. The sun shone and it was a lovely, spacious, welcoming space. To be able to share learning and reflections in real life, and to bring colleagues online into many of the live discussions and debates, felt like a worthy exploration of the future of conferencing.

"Our theme was social work of the future and the whole conference felt forward-looking, exploratory and innovative. My thanks to all the members, staff and guests who made it happen and to all colleagues and others that joined in. We are starting to plan for next year already!"

Conference delegates enjoyed the day

Programme highlights

Our conference brought together a range of keynote speakers and workshops, covering a diverse and broad range of topics that intersect with, and complement, social work best practice.

Dominic Watters delivered our first keynote - Poverty, cost of living and the role of social workers - where he spoke passionately about the growing issue of food poverty and inequality, through the lens of his own lived (and living) experience as a single parent from a working-class community.

Dominic Watters delivered our first keynote

Our next keynote highlighted the deterioration of working conditions in social work - and explored what we can do about this as a profession. Prof. Jermaine M Ravalier (Bath Spa University) presented research findings that suggest social workers are more stressed now than any time over the past five years, before we hosted a panel discussion exploring tools to help colleagues deal with worsening conditions, such as the Social Work Professional Support Service and the Good Practice Toolkit.

Prof. Jermaine M Ravalier (Bath Spa University) presented research findings

On day 2, we were honoured to be joined by Zoë Dainton and Edward Daffarn, social workers and Grenfell survivors. In this incredibly powerful talk, Zoë and Edward spoke about their experiences and offered advice to social workers who find themselves working in or after a disaster: "You're going to have to act fast, to expect the unexpected. It's not enough to want to help, you actually have to be in a place to help."

Zoë and Edward, who contributed to the recently released book 'Out of the Shadows: Social Workers in Disasters', outlined how Grenfell was a tragedy in three acts: dismissal and unaddressed risks before the fire; the 72 lives needlessly lost; and how survivors were left unsupported by the state and services.

• Co author’s of Out of the Shadows Maris Stratulis, Rebekah Pierre of BASW and Dr Angie Bartoli, Nottingham Trent University with contributors Zoë Dainton and Edward Daffarn

Our final keynote saw Duc Tran, Chair of EDI Advisory Group, Ruth Stark, Independent Social Worker and former President of IFSW and Maryam Khan, co-founder of Our World Too, explore how social workers can contribute to co-building a peaceful world. This talk is now available to watch on the BASW Youtube Channel.


Duc Tran, Chair of EDI Advisory Group, Ruth Stark, Independent Social Worker and former President of IFSW and Maryam Khan, co-founder of Our World Too


Julia Ross becomes new chair of BASW UK


BASW chair, Julia Ross

Our new chair, Julia Ross, officially took over from Gerry Nosowska during the AGM held on Friday 17th June 2022, following her election in April.

Julia has a rich experience in social work. After first training and working as a nurse, Julia retrained in social work and became a BASW member when Community Care was introduced with the Seebohm Report in 1972.

Recently Julia worked with Professional Social Work to publish Call the Social - a memoir of her 40 years in social work. The book, which is freely available to all members, Julia recounts her journey, the real-life stories and people she has met along the way, that make social work such a rich, complex and unique profession.

The AGM saw a review and reports of work over the last year. BASW motions were discussed and voted on.  More will be shared on this.

A special conference session - in conversation with Julia Ross, with Hari Sewell - will soon be available to watch on the BASW Youtube Channel.

We were delighted to also welcome Neeta Baicher to her new role as BASW UK vice-chair.

BASW AGM welcomed Mark Lynes, Aly Fryer and Omar Mohamed to give feedback on their views as people with lived experience

A special thanks to Gerry Nosowska - BASW chair 2018-22

This year's conference and AGM was Gerry Nosowska's last as BASW UK chair. Gerry has done a magnificent job representing and standing up for our profession through the pandemic - we're sure members will join us in thanking Gerry for her service and wishing her well for the future.

Professional Social Work magazine is covering the conference in-depth in its next online edition - look out for a special member e-bulletin this week!

Recordings of the programme will be made available to members in the coming weeks.

Gerry Nosowska - BASW chair 2018-22