Sadly child sexual exploitation is in the news wherever we look at the moment, whether in relation to criminal trials concerning the murder of young girls, the prosecution of gangs of men (Oxford being the latest), or historical abuse (celebrities and North Wales children’s homes). Sue Kent represented BASW last month at a roundtable event led by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), where she shared the views of members of the BASW Practice Group on Child Sexual Exploitation about the prosecution process.
We know that the present system can see those who have suffered undergo further abuse during cross examination. This has to stop to ensure more convictions of offenders and better protection for the young people who have bravely come forward. A consultation will be launched in the summer and BASW will be responding.
The care system: The Care Inquiry report was launched in May and declared that the care system was failing thousands of children in England. It stressed the importance of relationships and permanence, asking us to remain focused on all care options rather than solely adoption. BASW is backing the lobbying efforts of a group of charities pressing for an amendment to the Children & Families Bill that would extend support to care leavers not in education up to the age of 25 years.
Attending a Westminster conference on looked after children, Sue was pleased to hear support for social workers, especially from the chair Dame Butler-Sloss who questioned why our profession was perceived so negatively when we carry out the crucial and successful job of protecting children.
Caring for the vulnerable: Nushra Mansuri was invited to speak in parliament by the charity WinVisible in May at the launch of its campaign ‘Invest in a caring society – a living wage for mothers and other carers’ (www.winvisible.org). She presented on the impact of welfare reform from a social work perspective. It was sad to hear the host MP John McDonnell (a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work) describe how many of his constituents come to his surgery in desperate circumstances, leaving him and his staff in tears on a number of occasions. He also talked about how emotionally draining it was to support people in crisis – something that we know all too well as social workers.
Queen’s Speech: Last month’s Queen’s Speech contained much of relevance to social workers, including a Care Bill (adults), an Offenders’ Rehabilitation Bill, an Anti-social Behaviour Bill, a Crime and Policing Bill, and yet another Immigration Bill. Members of BASW’s Criminal Justice Reference Group are extremely concerned by the proposals to reduce the work of the probation service by 70%. Like social work, this is an extremely complex area that needs to be handled by experienced and skilled practitioners; economic imperatives may end up costing us all very dearly in years to come.
CPD seminars for social workers: We hope members have noticed a significant increase in the number of events that BASW England (and BASW UK) have been putting on and planning. The Kent Street seminars are proving very popular. This month we ran a fascinating seminar on writing for publication which was split between writing for journals and writing blogs, tweets and articles for trade magazines. The session conducted by Declan McNicoll (Editor of the Journal Social Care and Neuro Disability) led to a debate about why social workers do not have the confidence to think they can write for a journal, and at the end five people had committed to writing an article.
A session on how to blog and tweet was ably led by Rebecca Joy Novell and Manisha Mehendra Patel. Mark Monaghan, one of the participants, said: “Rebecca and Manisha inspired me to set up a blog as these are changing times. Given the adversely critical press that is often received, we as professional social workers have both a responsibility and duty to respond.”
The notes from the seminar are on the BASW website and the workshop will be repeated. There are some great seminars and other events coming up so please check the events pages of the website regularly – www.basw.co.uk/events. We want to host more seminars across the country, so if you think you could stage one, have an idea for a topic or want to present, let us know.
Students and NQSWs: There will be more about blogging and social media at the Student and NQSW Conference in July – “the Masked AMHP” is one of the presenters, so if you want to meet him why not come along? You don’t have to be a student or a NQSW to attend and there is a packed and interesting programme.
It has been good for members of the England team and BASW members to meet with enthusiastic and committed social work students on the verge of graduation. Some students have already had been offered jobs and we hope that this is a sign of things improving after some difficult years. If you are about to qualify, please let us know how it is in your part of the country so that we can form a clear impression of the national picture.
Adult care: You cannot have failed to notice a lot of focus on adult social care in the media and in Government pronouncements. The crisis in A&E services does seem to have triggered the recognition that social care has a vital role to play in the care of older people, but that we are cash-starved compared with the NHS.
Both the Coalition Government and Labour recognise in their reviews of health that you can’t have health care without social care, so there is a real opportunity for us to influence the debate. If you want to respond via BASW let us know your views, or maybe respond directly to the consultations yourself.
Russian links: Our activities have not all been restricted to England – Sue joined other BASW members in visiting a project in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, which proved a useful example of the benefits of international social work – see her article on p22 of June's PSW.