The international award-winning film director, Ken Loach, has endorsed Boot Out Austerity!, in which a group of social workers will be walking 100 miles from Birmingham to Liverpool later this month. They will be setting off from the new head office of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) in Birmingham on Wednesday 19th April, to arrive in Liverpool on Tuesday 25th April, the day before BASW’s annual Conference and AGM. The idea for the walk came to Guy Shennan, BASW Chair, late last year.
He explains: “Every day, social workers see the devastating impact of austerity in the lives of people they work with, yet this is not always so visible to the wider public. We want to draw attention to these effects of the austerity measures of the past seven years, as we believe that a growing awareness will lead to demands that these unnecessary measures are brought to an end. One of our inspirations was Ken Loach’s film, I, Daniel Blake, which showed the human costs of austerity through the medium of story-telling. We will be meeting people all along our route from Birmingham to Liverpool and want to hear and publicise as many stories as possible.”
Each evening a meeting will take place where the walkers arrive that day, where they will be able to meet local social workers and others, including people who use social care services, and hear their stories. On Thursday 20th April in Stafford, this will include a showing of I, Daniel Blake. Ken Loach has applauded the initiative, saying: “Austerity is causing chaos in the lives of so many, and this needs to be confronted. I fully support this walk for social justice”.
The walkers have been receiving messages of support from social workers all over the country, who have also made clear that austerity’s effects have been felt across the full range of services, for disabled people, in mental health care, learning disability services, by older people and others in desperate need of adult social care, for children’s mental health and other children’s services as well as in health and education. Benefit cuts, food poverty, homelessness and inequality are mentioned by many.
The walkers will be publicising these issues as well as the stories they hear along the way. On the first evening, on 19th April, they will be in Wolverhampton, then in Stafford on 20th April, Stoke on the 21st, arriving in Sandbach on Saturday 22nd, in Northwich on the 23rd, Runcorn on 24th April, before the final entry into Liverpool on Tuesday 25th April where they will finish on the iconic Liverpool Waterfront at the Pier Head.
Guy Shennan is calling for people to come and meet the walkers and to walk alongside them, even if just for a mile or two: “There are about ten of us who are walking the whole 100 miles, but many others have expressed their intention to walk on one or two days, or just part of a day. Anyone who is concerned about austerity and its damaging effects is welcome to join us, as we walk side by side for social justice”.
Click HERE to join the walk
Click HERE to watch 'Boot Out Austerity Blues'