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New fund to support social work activism

Joint venture between Social Workers Union and the Campaign Collective to help social workers fight their causes

Simon Francis (left) and John McGowan

Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 2 September, 2021

Social work activists are being offered funding and expertise to help get their campaigns off the ground under a new scheme launched today.

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is providing the cash and is partnering with the Campaign Collective, a social enterprise that gives advice and support to campaigners.

Causes can range from work-based issues such as campaigning for better conditions in their workplaces to issues affecting service users and local communities.

John McGowan, general secretary of SWU, said: “This is a terrific way for SWU to support member-led campaigns.

“It will help members with micro-campaigns – it might be something to do with their employment or it could be to do with services for their local community. I get emails from people wanting to campaign on issues like the closure of an adult’s centre in their area which will mean social workers can’t do their job properly.

“Social workers at one authority had their parking allowance removed and wanted to campaign on that. It can be to do with these issues or bigger issues that impact on their role.”

Social workers looking to launch a campaign are invited to apply to a ‘SWU Campaign Group’ created to review and approve proposals. Those who are successful will gain additional support from the Campaign Collective to help them ensure they get media and political attention.

Simon Francis, founding member of the Campaign Collective, said: “The challenges facing social workers and the people they work with are urgent and pressing.

“Yet too often the media and politicians fail to recognise the issues social workers face on the frontline.

“We hope this campaign fund will start to address this imbalance and ensure the voices of the vulnerable and of social workers are better heard.”

The initiative is being launched after a recent survey by SWU highlighted members wanted the union to have a more campaigning focus.

McGowan added: “I think activism is growing among social workers but they don’t always know what to do with it. They often look to other organisations to campaign on their causes.

“This is about empowering and supporting them to do it themselves on the issues that are important to them.”

The scheme will run for a year initially but if demand is big enough and it proves successful SWU hope it will carry on.

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