SWAN 2013 Conference : Defeating the Politics of Austerity : Creating an Alternative Future


Over the past four years we have had an organised presence at the annual conference of the Social Work Action Network [SWAN]. Sadly this year is the exception. Given our slender resources we have been unable to make a useful contribution to this year’s event. This is all the more frustrating, given the theme and the rich  content. However there may be a few places left and we would encourage our supporters to register even at this late stage.

SWAN Conference 2013 ‘Defeating the politics of austerity: creating an alternative future’, takes place on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th April at London South Bank University, Elephant & Castle, London.

SWAN London, hosting the event, feel the onslaught of austerity, marketisation and privatisation is even further progressed than when SWAN was established in 2004. As social workers, social care workers, services users, carers, social work students and educators it is an alternative through critical thinking, radical practice and social action which we want to develop and help manifest at this conference.

There is a diverse and compelling line up of speakers including Owen Jones (Journalist and author of ‘Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class’), Selma James (Socialist and Feminist, Global Women’s Strike) plus representatives from Disabled People Against Cuts.
Booking for the conference is a two part process. Register here and make payment here!

Our latest response to the Institute of Youth Work debate

Further to the request from the NYA to consider different forms of support for the proposed Institute of Youth Work – see NYA asks for our backing – we have sent the following response.
Dear Maralyn,

Further to your request for partners to back in kind the IYW project we need to make the following observations. These flow from Steering Group discussions and our first tentative attempt to use SurveyMonkey to gauge opinion amongst our supporters.

1. Our campaign is utterly committed to the process of establishing whether the creation of an IYW is in the best interests of youth work and young people.

2. Thus we wish to facilitate the fullest possible debate about the proposed Institute. In this context a link on our home page to IYW pages would not be a problem. We are not quite sure what you mean by ‘advertorial or editorial’ column space, but of necessity wish to give the widest airing to material produced by the NYA about the IYW throughout the process.

3. As an independent, voluntary group with no external funding or staff we are unable to respond on the financial front. Indeed this request touching on such issues as pay-roll deductions seems somewhat premature, along with the suggestion that partners via senior management should be recommending the Institute.

All this aside we look forward to a continuing engagement with the unfolding process, confident that this holds out the best possibility of a measured and educated decision about the future of an IYW.

Best Wishes

As we understand it the JNC staff side remain opposed to the establishment of an IYW, seeing it as a threat to very JNC structure itself. However in a piece in the April edition of Rapport, Ben Cochrane, the newly elected Youth Work Convenor asks of the possible Institute.

Was it there to advocate or regulate? Unite maintains that it can, and should do
both. Given the diversity of bodies already committed to advocating on behalf of youth work and youth workers (trades unions, In Defence of Youth Work, NYA, CHYPS and TAG amongst others) the niche position for an IYW could be found in the latter role.
Given that as things stand anybody can call themselves a Youth Worker, open a
youth club and begin working with young people without any checks or quality
assurance measures whatsoever, the proposed development of a professional
body such as the IYW presents a golden opportunity to bring in some degree of
regulation and safeguards. The technical, ethical and practical detailsof how a regulatory body may function are clearly a source of contention. Debates around an inclusive or exclusive membership of such a body are complex
with valid concerns on both sides. Unite’s policy is that we should continue to
explore the development of an IYW and remain critical friends of the process.
I believe this is the correct position while the door remains open to introduce some form of regulated membership, possibly based on a code of ethical practice, and we are still able to argue the case for a revocable licence to practice and protection of the title Youth Worker within that context.

In this context both UNITE and our Campaign are in agreement about being a critical friend to the process. However across the diversity of our supporters the question of IYW as a regulatory body based on an interpretation of what constitutes ethical practice is seen by more than a few as deeply problematic.