Over 350 social workers, service users, students and academics attended the Social Work Action Network (Swan) ninth annual conference at Durham University last weekend.
It was given the perfect start by keynote speaker and local activist, Heather Wood, who was instrumental in setting up Save Easington Area Mines. Heather reflected on the lessons of the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-85 and reminded everyone about the importance of solidarity and unity.
The conference also heard from service users and workers who have been on the receiving end of the government’s ruthless assault on the welfare state.
There were many great examples of how people were fighting back against the cuts in services and resources. A solidarity donation was made from SwanN and a collection was taken at the final rally for the workers on strike at Care UK in Doncaster.
Speakers acknowledged that there is widespread anger about the attacks on welfare services and that there was enormous potential for resistance. Swan also launched a charter highlighting the crisis in mental health services. There will be a series of regional events over the next six months to roll out the charter and build resistance.