Advice and Representation

Welcome to Day 3 of SWU's 10th Anniversary Celebration! Be sure to check back each day between June 12-21 for new videos and blogs that showcase our history and celebrate our future.

Lisa Fitzpatrick who is a BASW / SWU Advice & Representation Service Trade Union Officer has written an in-depth A&R blog for this celebration on Why Unions Matter: Fighting for Justice and Fairness in the Workplace for Social Workers. She writes about the continued role of the labour movement in fighting for the rights of workers and the work we have achieved and with our members. Lisa is passionate about working for a Trade Union with the values of social justice and equality as its core, to protect and support social workers.  

Below are two videos featuring the longest serving and newest A&R team members.

Lien Watts is Head of the BASW / SWU Advice & Representation Service and SWU Assistant General Secretary. She is the longest serving member of the A&R team and has been a member of the team since 2010 when SWU was first being developed. 

In her video Lien gives a history of our renown A&R Service, an overview of how the social work employment scene has changed in the past decade, and discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social work workforce.

She says, “The last 15 months has been extraordinary for everyone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in many ways, the whole world of social work has been turned upside-down. We in the A&R Team have been very busy supporting our members through the whole ranges of issues the pandemic has thrown up – from a lack of PPE in the very early days and how to keep our workforce as safe as possible, to providing regular updates in a confusing and volatile world. All the while, challenging issues of discrimination that have been so starkly highlighted over the last year.

We have also had to learn different ways of working – representing at important hearings via remote IT platforms as well as understanding training and keeping in touch with colleagues in the same distant way. It’s not always been easy but, as always, the team have adapted and developed very successful strategies to deal with and to overcome the difficulties."

Head of BASW/SWU A&R Service and SWU Assistant General Secretary Lien Watts gives a history of the A&R Service, how the social work employment scene has changed in the past decade, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social work workforce.

Euston Copeland is a BASW / SWU Advice & Representation Service Trade Union Officer. As the newest member of the A&R team, he joined us while the country was in lockdown and has been remotely supporting social workers. 

In his video Euston says, "Now is a great opportunity for me, having received support from SWU, to be able to give something back and support workers. I joined the team in the midst of a lockdown and that’s been a really difficult experience. But the experience and the support of the team members – that helped me to settle in, to learn how SWU operates, and to support staff responding to their concerns.

It's a privilege to be able to walk alongside social workers and to help them to achieve their aspirations and goals within the field of social work.”

Euston Copeland is a BASW / SWU Advice & Representation Service Trade Union Officer. As the newest member of the A&R team, he joined us while the country was in lockdown and has been remotely supporting social workers.

Hats off to the Advice and Representation Service Team

As Lien mentioned in her video, our A&R Officers punch way above their weight and the many compliments we recieve are testimony to that. 

Here are some comments from members thanking our SWU Trade Union and A&R Officers, as printed in the May 2021 SWU Newsletter.

  • “Excellent support and advice … given during this process.”
  • “I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all your time, support, encouragement and guidance you have given me in recent weeks in order to pursue my grievance against …. I had nothing to be nervous about because you got a really good grip on my case!”
  • “I have spoken about the commitment you have shown in relation to my case to everyone. I’m sure you this is the professional manner in which you work full stop.”
  • “Thank you for your support yesterday. You really understood the issues I am facing in the workplace and you intervened at the right times.”
  • “Thank you for everything you are doing on my behalf, I appreciate it more than you can imagine.”
  • “I am writing to say the service has been a fantastic help to me. My representative did an excellent job. She was very professional, supportive, reliable, trustworthy and a great advocate who provided me with very good advice during a difficult time.
  • I would also like to mention [her colleague] who I spoke to on several occasions while she was on leave. [He] was very professional, helpful and also provided excellent advice.”
  • “Thank you to [my union reps] and the service for all the help. It was much appreciated."
  • “Thank you very much for your support. This was a risky working situation but with your support this ended up positive, if I did not get your support the working conditions would not have improved.”
  • “I would like [my rep] to be acknowledged for the fantastic service he provided in supporting me through a very difficult time.”
  • “My whole experience from beginning to end was fantastic. At the time where things were very difficult for me in the work place, every person I spoke to made me feel instantly reassured and confident in the service being provided. I cannot praise enough … my allocated officer for his sensitivity, support and encouragement. He represented me ensuring that the best outcome was achieved. Thank you!”
  • “I've felt supported throughout my experience, listened to, difficulties acknowledged and have valued this experience, thank you.”
  • “I have been very happy with the service received. Communication was regular and high quality. I felt that I was listened to and understood at a time that was very difficult for me. My allocated worker was great throughout from the progress of my issue to its conclusion.”
  • “ My representative believed in me and more importantly was able to empathise with the issue. She was the right and appropriate person. Thank you … for an outcome!”
  • “I was very satisfied with the support I received. Always prompt, always empathic, from duty and from my rep. All of those I talked to got a good grasp of the problem very quickly. [My representative] advocated for me very well with my employers and was effective in supporting me and working towards a satisfactory resolution. I am very grateful to be a member of the union.”
  • “Managed well and professionally.”
  • “My advisor was knowledgeable, supportive and very helpful in a challenging situation.”
  • “I specifically would like to thank my Union Rep … for her professionalism and support. I felt she knew the legal aspects of employment law and ACAS guidance inside and out, which is in no small part to my claim going forward to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.”
  • “Thank you so much I could not have achieved such an amazing outcome without your guidance, faith and support.”
  • “I just wanted to send a final e-mail thanking you for all your support during my employment issue ... It was a difficult time for me and you and the union provided high quality advice for me throughout reaching what I feel was ultimately the best solution for me personally. I am now in a better place mentally and physically and that is the most important outcome.”
  • “Once again, thank you to you and your colleagues at the SWU for all the assistance offered. I would highly recommend your services, and as always promote to anyone the benefits of membership.”
  • “I really do not think I could have got to this stage without your commitment to advocate on my behalf, encouragement and empathy around my circumstances, representation at the various meetings and input to the numerous documents in relation to the grievance and appeals
    process.”
  • “This is a new beginning for me in so many ways and thank you again for helping me to get there.”
  • “I have nothing but praise for her and am very grateful that because of her work, I am going forward to an Employment Tribunal in July.”
  • “Thanks again for all of your advice and support along the way. I have been so grateful to have been a member of the SWU.”