College update

Community Care has published the names of the members of the Interim College of Social Work Board and I have to say, when I glanced at the list I was prepared to be sorely disappeared and pessimistic but when I looked further, I actually couldn’t continue with my cynicism.

It’s quite unusual for me to be actively hopeful about a current development in social work in the UK, but you know, this time, I really am.

The list includes the usual managers and directors/assistant directors/academics  but it also has made a distinct effort to include front line practitioners who are currently working through a wide range of different services (adults, childrens, mental health, hospice, independent and voluntary sector) it also includes a newly qualified social worker who qualified this year.

I went to one of the College of Social Work consultation events. I found it useful and invigorating. What I found productive was that it united social workers and some social work students across different branches of the profession and with differing amounts of experience and tried to find the commonality that exists through the profession.

There was an element of cynicism (of course, what do you seriously expect from a room full of social workers!) but there was so much skill, experience and enthusiasm for change in the room – it felt in a way that some people were just waiting for some kind of leadership to create a body to develop the profession.

Of course until the College has been established, it is easy to be hopeful. The budget will remain absolutely crucial and it’s hard to see the government sparing much for the establishment of the College of Social Work so the money will likely have to come from members – but I know it’s something I’d be prepared to pay for (within limits of course!).

So in a week of misery, it’s good to have something hopeful to look forward to and feel more positive about.

Establishing the College of Social Work

Some movement has been reported in the setting up of the first College of Social Work as recommended by the Social Work Task Force last year.

Firstly two joint interim chairs have been appointed – Maurice Bates, previously interim Director of Children’s Services at North East Lincolnshire Council and prior to that, Director of Adult and Children’s Services at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

At his side, virtually, will be Corinne May-Chalal – professor of Applied Social Science at Lancaster University.

According to Community Care, they both are currently registered as social workers which is a definite bonus compared to others who have been trying to provide leadership within the profession (GSCC, I’m looking at you..).

Interestingly, Children and Young People Now, report that the College is trying to link up with UNISON – the Trade Union that I’d say most social workers would join (I’m a member myself) so as to pool members and resources.  Community Care report that BASW (British Association of Social Workers)  are proposing some kind of merging of functions and membership with the College as well . I’m a member of BASW too.

Personally, I’d be in favour of both a linking of functions with BASW and UNISON. Currently, I pay to join both as I think they serve different functions but with the College in the mix and potentially a third set of subscription fees, it might make a mockery of the systems as they are. It also looks like a lot of the proposed mandate of the College overlaps with BASW.

Community Care reports that

The college is proposing to offer its members services such as a magazine, professional advice, information about training and continuing professional development, professional indemnity insurance for independent social workers and individual representation in disputes with employers.

And this is exactly the function that BASW currently serves. If a trade union association could be added into the mix (I was always in favour of BASW building further extensive trade union links) it would make any fee much more palatable.

BASW has a purpose but it’s purpose would be much better served by a larger membership of social workers. The voice of the combined membership of the college could be very loud and very effective.

I hope these plans of links with both BASW and UNISON come to fruitation because it makes the College more useful and more effective.