“Social workers have to work with the big picture,” said one participant at the “Social Work: A Profession Worth Fighting For?” conference in Glasgow last weekend.
She was referring to a discussion of what inequality does to people, that took place during the weekend.
The conference, the second of its kind, resonated with a determination not to lose sight of what inspires people to get into social work in the first place. It also discussed ways of challenging the stultifying and damaging mediocrity of the government’s vision.
Our conference brought together 300 academics, service users, students and social workers to grapple with issues which cause much conflict for practitioners and service users. For example, the drive to “meet targets” often pits us against one another.
Our vision emphasises the potential alliances between service users and social workers. As Monica Hunter from People First, the organisation representing people with learning disabilities in Scotland, said, “Social workers should have more time to let people explain.”
We decided to have annual conferences and set up a network.
Peter Beresford, chair of Shaping our Lives and a user of mental health services, fed back discussions from service users. He said they valued the broad range of support social workers could offer, as opposed to the view the government has of social work.