From the Social Work Action Network comes news of action against the corporate sponsorship of youth and social work awards, which legitimise organisations profiting from austerity or human rights abuses.
The network is planning a picket of the Social Worker of the Year Awards on 30th November 2018 (the previously called picket of the Children and Young People Now awards has now been called off). Their open letter is published here and copied below – they have already succeeded in pushing for one of the awards’ unethical corporate sponsors (Capita) to pull out, and the Social Worker awards have promised to carry out an ‘ethical audit’.
Dear Social Work Awards organising committee,
We write to you, as a board, for the second time after SWAN spoke out against the involvement of G4S in the Social Worker of the Year Awards in 2012.
We welcome the news that Capita has withdrawn from the Social Worker of the Year awards 2018 as a sponsor of the ‘Values’ award. We made our objections to Capita clear in our public statement and joined Social Workers Without Borders in publicising the issue, who also took their own principled stand and withdrew from the awards.
We of course support the concept of celebrating the achievements of social workers and promoting social work. We are pleased that those fantastic social workers shortlisted and successful in winning awards will be able to enjoy the awards night, without feeling compromised by the presence of a private outsourcing company who have profited on the backs of some of those most marginalised in our communities, and by undermining public services. It is good to hear there is in ‘ethics review’ taking place to which BASW have been invited to contribute, and in which Social Workers Without Borders have also been invited to participate.
It concerns us, however, that your public statement about Capita’s withdrawal from the award ceremony takes no position on their suitability to sponsor a social work award about social work values, and indeed it implies that the media coverage has been rather distasteful distraction from the awards. Added to the fact that this outcome has not been directly actioned by the Awards Board itself, Capita’s departure has barely been publicised, which allows the organisation to slip quietly out of the backdoor limiting their corporate damage.
We do not believe this is good enough. We hope you appreciate that, as an awards body, you have a leadership role within the profession and this includes a commitment to social work values and ethics.
BASW’s own definition of social work includes this statement:
‘The problems social workers deal with are often rooted in social or emotional disadvantage, discrimination, poverty or trauma. Social workers recognise the bigger picture affecting people’s lives and work for a more equal and just society where human rights are respected and protected. Social workers recognise the bigger picture affecting people’s lives and work for a more equal and just society where human rights are respected and protected.’
This is where we should start with social work.
As a campaigning network of practitioners and service users we would encourage the Social Worker of the Year awards to take the opportunity to start as you mean to go on -by recognising that the awards are incompatible with Capita and all other private sector outsourcing companies, whose ethos focuses not upon public services but upon profit. Such a statement, more than any glamour, would set a confident and proud tone for profession we all believe in.
We look forward to hearing your response to our concerns,
Social Work Action Network