Supporting Radical Social Work at Home and Abroad

Our  friends at the Social Work Action Network [SWAN] have sent the following information and news.


They are pleased to report that their new website: has been launched today. The site will be an important resource for social work practitioners, educators, students, service users and campaigners with new features including: integration with social media such as twitter and facebook, a new improved discussion forum, links to relevant articles from around the web, resources to download such as our pamphlets and the Practice Notes series, and regional web pages run by local SWAN groups around the UK. The site will continue to carry reports on SWAN’s activities and critical analysis of trends in social work policy.

The new forum ( already has discussion threads on age assessment of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, the strikes on 30th November, Danny Dorling – keynote at SWAN conference 2012 in Liverpool – and inequality, debating developments with the College of Social Work, and SWAN’s work with the service user/disabled people’s movement. Please register on the website and add your voice and opinions, and encourage others in your groups to do so.


The latest SWAN newsletter includes articles on strikes by social workers in Southampton and Birmingham against austerity cuts to pay and pensions; a critical overview of the Munro Review of child protection; an analysis of social enterprises and social work practices and their implications for practice; a discussion of the link between privatisation of social care and the abuse of learning disabled residents at the private Winterbourne View Hospital; and a member of the Case Con radical social work collective in the 1970s considers lessons from that period for today’s struggles, whilst it includes also our IDYW thoughts on the riots. There is also a round up of SWAN activities and events from around the regions.


Cuts, crisis, and resistance – Building alliances in social work and social care

The Seventh Annual Social Work Action Network Conference (SWAN) will be hosted by Liverpool Hope University on 30 and 31 March 2012.

Once again IDYW is contributing to the SWAN conference by leading a session on ‘The future of youth work’ and possibly a workshop on our Stories project. We hope very much that our supporters, especially perhaps students, take this opportunity to discuss together on our terms rather than management’s what might be a positive, collective way forward.

Further information below and at this link:

Professor Danny Dorling will be keynote speaker

The 2012 conference takes place against a backdrop of Government cuts and austerity measures that are producing a massive crisis in social work and social care. Workers face redundancies, increased workloads, pay cuts, threats to pensions and a stressful working life that is producing all manner of social and personal problems. For service users cuts mean worse services, more expense and less involvement in significant decisions that affect their lives. The Government response has been to argue for greater marketisation, as a reflection of ‘customer choice’. They have taken every opportunity to encouraged businesses, large and small, to bid for contracts and make profits from public services, yet as the crisis of Southern Cross shows the priorities of companies are always profits, not meeting human need.

The Government’s agenda is ideological. It is not a response to ‘economic necessity’. The crisis started when the Government bailed out failing banks – why should ordinary people and public services pay the price?

This year’s SWAN conference addresses these problems and issues. It provides a forum where academics, frontline workers, students and service users can come together, debate and forge alliances to create a counterpoint to the Government’s mantra that ‘there is no alternative to the market’. Instead the conference will explore alternative visions which offer hope that ‘another social work’ and ‘another form of social care’ is possible.

Speakers include:  Danny Dorling, Charlotte Williams, Gurnam Singh, Iain Ferguson, Michael Lavalette, Peter Beresford, Helga Pile

Sessions include: In defence of multi-culturalism; Responding to the crisis in adult social care; Challenges in children and families social work; Is there a future for youth work? What can we learning from radical international social work projects? Fighting the cuts, building the resistance.

Radical Social Work in Europe

The following  challenging statement comes from social workers involved in the Revolution 15o and Occupy Ljubljana movements in Slovenia. Its questions resonate across the waters and across the ‘professions’.

Why direct social work?

Why join the Revolution 15o?

• Most of us do not want to work indirectly

o Maintain closed spaces

o Maintain the existing order

o Work with paper and not with people

o Be a buffer to the strokes of raging capitalism

o Be a supervisor of the poor (and be on the edge of poverty ourselves)

We want to:

• Be with the people

o Be a witness

o Listen to the people talking

o Be part of the history

o Make sense of our work

• Resist the economisation of everyday life and relations between people

o Loneliness

o Medicalisation (and commercialisation) of distress

o Bureaucratisation of human relations and work

• Work together

o Make your knowledge and experience available to others

o Find new solutions

o Invent new organisations

o Create new COMMON responses


Direct Social Work 15 o Motions:

Mobilisation of the social work, social workers and users.

Direct advocacy for the issues brought into the movements, for the people who express their grievances.

Occupation of social institutions to make them serve the people.

Direct social work actions.

Direct funding – money for change!

Join today and whenever needed.


Direct Social Work

Not to be servants of financial capitalism, supervisors of expenditure of the poor!

To become an advocate for the people, join the movements today.

Social work emerged from working class movements for social justice – and became in time a mediator between the state and the people. Social workers became expropriated, too.

With neo-liberalism social work has become a global profession – to mend and reduce the harm done.

But social work is also an opportunity for those who are pushed into the shadow of silence to speak, for those who have become dependent on others to take the things in their own hands.

We need to relinquish roles in which we treat people as things, in which paper is more important than deed, and by which we serve disablement and not empowerment.

Enough of the indirect social work, enough of the paperwork, enough of the closed institutions, enough of social cripples.

15o is an opportunity for social work, an opportunity to become directly responsible to the people

It is hoped that representatives of this initiative will be at the SWAN conference in Liverpool.

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