BASW, SWU and Bath Spa University launch updated research study on the wellbeing of social workers

All social workers – members and non-members – are encouraged to take a new, short survey to investigate your working conditions, and how these conditions may influence your well-being and job satisfaction.

This is an important study as social work can be a stressful occupation, but there have been very few large academic studies into the working conditions that may influence this stress.

The survey is live now and available to complete until 20th August.

“Research of this quality makes the case to decision makers,” says BASW chief executive Dr Ruth Allen. “It is vital social workers’ voices are heard so please take the time to complete our short survey – it will help us to make a difference for you and your colleagues.”

John McGowan, general secretary of SWU adds: “Following continuous lobbying efforts, BASW and SWU’s concerns around professional working conditions is having a political impact. It is now extremely important to build on this through the outcomes of this new research and to keep up the momentum.”

The study will be co-ordinated by Dr Jermaine Ravalier of Bath Spa University, with the results unveiled in September.

Dr Ravalier says: “This survey is short and easy to complete - it only takes 10 minutes and is of course completely anonymous and confidential. We therefore politely urge you to take part. The more social workers we have complete the survey the stronger the case we have to make to employers and politicians to make improvements.”

From survey to campaign

Bath Spa University’s 2017 impactful study, UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing, led BASW and SWU to launch our Professional Working Conditions campaign in order to urgently improve conditions for social workers across the UK.

Taking the study’s findings of excessive caseloads, regular unpaid overtime and a lack of resource and support to cope with increased demand, BASW and SWU’s warnings of mass ‘burn out’ in the social care workforce sparked debates and questions in the House of Lords and House of Commons.

It also provided strong points of view for news stories, such as BBC online, Channel 4 News and the Guardian.

Our campaign which was first launched in June 2017 has put the issue on the political agenda but it now it needs further support and new data to push home the message.

Campaign milestones

Over the last twelve months BASW and SWU have continued to lobby for change: -

  • We have gained high-profile national media coverage with Sky News, BBC news, The Guardian and regional press
  • In July 2018 BASW’s Allison Hulmes talked on BBC Wales to highlight the issue of physical attacks on social workers
  • Also in July 2018 in a committee meeting on new draft social work regulations, BASW's campaigning led to Maria Eagle MP questioning ministers on what was being done about high caseloads, while Tracey Brabin (Shadow Minister for Early Years), Conor McGinn MP and George Howarth MP raised BASW's concerns on the impact on social workers from implementation of specific parts of the draft regulations.  
  • In May 2018, following continuous lobbying efforts, a debate was brought forward by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who asked what strategies have been considered to alleviate the working demands faced by social workers.
  • Professional Social Work (PSW) magazine features The Unacceptables, a series on the issues that get in the way of social work
  • Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) (Lab), Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) raised the campaign in the House of Commons in May 2018 and asked what was being done to reduce the demands faced by social workers to ‘avoid a disastrous exodus of talent and expertise?’
  • Early in 2018 John McGowan (General Secretary of SWU) and Dr Jermaine Ravalier from Bath Spa University have given a number of talks to social work groups to spread the findings of the work, and outline the next steps, including the BASW Black Country branch in Wolverhampton, and the BASW Merseyside branch.
  • In March 2018 BASW's campaign work and briefing led to a debate in the House of Commons about the significant contribution social workers make to society