Welcome to Day 8 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.
SWU has a long history of campaigning and today we will be shining a spotlight on two of these campaigns in videos below.
Notable SWU campaigns from over the years include:
Boot out Austerity (2017-2019) highlighted the impact of austerity on families. Over seven days - starting on 19 April 2017 - social workers, service users, carers, and others walked 100 miles to raise awareness of the harsh impact of austerity policies. The marchers visited food banks and social care settings under threat from funding cuts along the route to hear from those whose lives have been devastated by austerity.
The SWU Austerity Action Group is a campaign group committed to opposing the continuing programme of austerity implemented as a political choice by the Conservative government in 2010. The AAG will always seek to promote Social Justice and will campaign for those disadvantaged members of society, social workers, other allied professions, and agencies adversely affected by the government’s economic policies.
Sorry We Missed You (2019) is a movie by Ken Loach. SWU was approached in 2019 to discuss and advise on some aspects of the new Ken Loach movie Sorry We Missed You with writer Paul Laverty. It lead to SWU not only being involved in the story but also the ongoing campaign and awareness raising issues as part of the campaign.
The Professional Working Conditions Campaign was launched in 2018 by BASW and SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University, to improve working conditions for social workers. We are continuing to lobby ministers, grow media interest and build awareness and influence with the research which shows that social workers are strongly engaged in their work and want the very best outcomes for people that use services, but they are hampered by poor working conditions and a lack of resources.
The Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions: Good Practice Toolkit was developed in 2020 to support positive working conditions for social workers. This toolkit is aimed at accelerating action across all parts of the workplace to enable social workers to thrive and to prevent burn out and loss of staff.
The SWU Social Work’s Six-Point Action Plan published in 2020 sets out immediate short-term steps that Government and social work employers must take to safeguard social workers' physical and mental health. These steps include: increased mental health support, guaranteed PPE, a social work recruitment drive, and a pledge not to re-introduce austerity measures.
SWU and Bath Spa University are collaborating on a new research and action plan on reflective supervision best practices in 2021. We are developing a comprehensive approach to best practice supervision by working closely with social workers from across the UK as well as looking at the myriad of existing literature around reflective supervision.
When it comes to campaigns, SWU General Secretary John McGowan said, “It is essential social workers are supported, both through SWU their dedicated Union and the professional body, BASW, because this combination ensures social workers are empowered to improve their working conditions and their standing as skilled, dedicated professionals.”
Campaign Spotlight: Austerity Action Group
In this video SWU Executive Member and Austerity Action Group Chair Angi Naylor recounts the origins of the AAG campaign group and how it has been supported by SWU over the years. AAG believes austerity is a political choice, not a necessity, will always challenge the types of policies that contribute to poverty.
SWU has funded the AAG for the past two years and is proud to march alongside it as part of our ongoing commitment to boot out austerity.
AAG began with the Boot Out Austerity campaign in 2017 that saw 140 social workers and service users take part in a 100-mile walk from the BASW / SWU head office in Birmingham to the AGM venue in Liverpool. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the impact of politically driven austerity policies on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and to share their stories. The march was endorsed by the International Federation of Social Workers, engaged with key government ministers and MPs, and was supported by significant leaders in the UK including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the film maker Ken Loach who had recently made the film I, Daniel Blake.
Research Spotlight: Social Worker Working Conditions and Wellbeing
Dr Jermaine Ravalier is a Professor of Organisational Psychology and Social Justice at Bath Spa University. In his first video Jermaine discusses his research undertaken with SWU and BASW over the past few years into social worker working conditions and wellbeing across the UK. This includes the campaign for professional working conditions launched by SWU and BASW in 2018 and the Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions good practice toolkit published in June 2020 by SWU, BASW, and Bath Spa University.
In his second video Jermaine discusses the new research he has begun with SWU on reflective supervision best practice in social work. Although reflective supervision is vital to social work practice, there is a lack in the amount and quality of research on this topic; it is becoming increasingly clear that it is not only important to social work practice and the mental health and wellbeing of social workers, but also to outcomes for service users as well.