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A Reflection on World Social Work Month

As World Social Work Month draws to a close, our Policy Officer, Jonny Adamson, reflects on and rounds-up a month of events and activity from the SASW team.

World Social Work Month got off to an early start for SASW, with the Convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Social Work, Fulton MacGregor MSP, lodged a motion to parliament on 23rd February to recognise World Social Work Day. The motion paid tribute to the work of social workers across Scotland and urged MSPs to engage with the profession to reform and shape a new future for social work with proposals for a National Care Service being introduced shortly. So far, 31 MSPs from the SNP, Labour and Green Party have signed the motion. Since it has achieved cross-party support, the motion will be considered for a Member's Business Debate, which would mean that it is allocated time for debate in the chamber. We will keep you informed of any developments.

The motion proved to be a catalyst for further support from across the political spectrum on World Social Work Day itself. 17 MSPs from every political party took to social media to express their support and gratitude for social workers in Scotland and around the world. I've picked out a few below:

"This parliament must not miss the opportunity to reform and shape a better future for Scottish social work. Let’s support social workers as they support others." Jackie Baillie MSP, Dumbarton.

"On Work Social Work Day, can I thank social workers across the country for their vital work which makes such a positive difference to people's lives all year round. We must make sure they have all the support, time and resources they need." Liam McArthur MSP, Orkney.

"Today is World Social Work Day 2022. Social workers uphold human rights every day in their roles. We need politicians and decision-makers to do everything they can to support social workers to do this." Kaukab Stewart MSP, Glasgow Kelvin.

"Today is World Social Work Day, which is a great opportunity to thank social workers for the job that they do, and to recognise the challenges that social workers face." Ariane Burgess MSP, Highlands and Islands.

"Social workers are integral to supporting others and ensuring that nobody gets left behind. We must make sure social workers have the support, time and resource to do that." Craig Hoy MSP, South Scotland.

Of course, it wasn't just MSPs who were making their voice heard. Our National Director, Alison Bavidge, posted a video to wish all social workers a happy World Social Work Day and also highlight the importance of celebrating this day.

As well as recognising achievements and expressing thanks, World Social Work Month is an opportunity to connect with colleagues and learn from others. Each week of March, the nations held online events that centred on the theme for this year- "Co-Building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind". 

On Tuesday 22nd, SASW held its first event exploring how social work can effectively support people with insecure immigration status to navigate barriers. We heard presentations from Francesca Sella, Solicitor at Just Right Scotland, on the complexities of the current UK legislative framework around immigration and from Tumay Forster, Outreach Services Team Leader at Shakti Women's Aid, who shared her experiences of supporting women who have No Recourse to Public Funds. It was a very informative and useful event, particularly given the current Ukrainian refugee crisis.

SASW's second event took place on Thursday 24th, this time focusing on the role and importance of social work as a human rights profession after Scotland incorporates UNCRC. We heard talks from Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, SallyAnn Kelly, CEO of Aberlour Children’s Charity and Clare Simpson, Director of Parenting Across Scotland. There were discussions around the impact of UNCRC on the social work profession, the role of social work in tackling child poverty and the importance of supporting the early years.

Both events were recorded and will be available on the BASW UK Youtube channel very shortly.

We were also delighted to see MPs taking part in a Westminster Hall Debate on the impact of the pandemic on social work, with notable contributions from Scottish MPs on the need for fairer caseloads and to establish a clear career pathway in social work.

We were also pleased to receive video messages of support for social workers across Scotland from Cross-Party Group members Jeremy Balfour MSP and Paul O'Kane MSP. They also talked about their ambitions for the newly formed CPG and the role they think it could have in helping to engage MSPs in addressing many of the issues faced by the profession. The CPG is next meeting on Wednesday 27th April, 6.00-7.45pm and all social workers are invited to attend. If you would like to come along, or learn more about the work of the group, please drop me an email on jonny.adamson@basw.co.uk

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you about the Professional Support Service that we're running in Scotland all year round. Our coaches, who are all trained social workers themselves, offer free sessions that provide wellbeing, career and mentoring support. You can choose a coach who best suits your needs at a time that fits in with your schedule. The feedback we're getting is that people are finding the service really beneficial. If you would like to book a session, please check out the service on our website here.

Meantime, it goes without saying, thank you again for all your incredible work and I hope you had a great World Social Work Month 2022.