SWAN - The Social Work Action Network

Welcome to SWAN's website. Please check out features such as the SWAN regional webpages and previous conference resources. You can join SWAN here. Don't forget to sign up to our newsletter and keep abreast of developments for the 2015 SWAN Conference.

SWAN is a network of social work practitioners, academics, students and social welfare service users united in their concern that social work activity is being undermined by managerialism and marketisation, by the stigmatisation of service users and by welfare cuts and restrictions.

SWAN promotes a model of social work and social care practice which is rooted in the value of social justice. This model seeks to advocate alongside, and on behalf of, service users and carers. It values both individual relationship-based practice and collective approaches.

It works towards these objectives through regular conferences and campaigning activities, and to strengthen the radical voice within social work practice, education and wider social policy debates.

SWAN works alongside existing social care, service user and carer organisations, including UNISON and Unite, to promote strong collective organisation and, wherever possible, to campaign jointly.

SWAN is a membership organisation - please join us by following the instructions here.

On Wednesday 10th June 2015, Liverpool Hope University are hosting a conference fighting for the defence of mental health services, an event strongly supported by SWAN:

The 'PsychoPolitics in the Twenty First Century' conference will explore the crisis in mental health services produced by ‘austerity’ and privatisation, and forms of activism that are emerging in opposition to this. The event will examine the work of earlier radical thinkers in mental health such as Peter Sedgwick and Franco Basaglia with the aim of renewing debates around the politics of mental health, as well as building alliances of resistance to cuts, managerialism and medicalisation.





After a hugely successful 2015 conference attended by over 430 people, one of the conference speakers adult mental health practitioner Raksha Sidhu reflects upon the sense of hope engendered there despite the devastating changes being enacted upon social and health care sector:

"The western world we currently inhabit is changing at an alarming rate. 'Change' is the buzz word everywhere, in the media, in the corporate sector and now in the social and health care sector. In fact, the changes are so rapid there is no time to reflect on the impact of these changes, and who they are really benefitting. Social care polices are made and dismantled at a speed which beguiles reason. The Care Act 2014 has come out, promising even more services to greater numbers of people, with precious little resources to match these promises.


More Articles...

  1. AGM and motions carried at SWAN Conference 2015
  2. Mental Health Charter: submission on inpatient adult psychiatric care
  3. Final programme for SWAN Conference 2015
  4. Award-Winning Spanish Social Work Leader will speak at SWAN Conference 2015
  5. Flyer for SWAN Conference 2015
  6. Speakers announced for SWAN Conference 2015
  7. UPDATE: SWAN Conference 2015 The Politics of Hope: Fighting for the Future of Social Work
  8. PsychoPolitics in the Twenty First Century: Peter Sedgwick and radical movements in mental health
  9. 'Can Openers' the debut novel by Mal Jones
  10. London ‘Crisis In Mental Health’ Day Conference, November 2014
  11. SWAN’s response to Clegg’s new mental health funding
  12. In memoriam - Rona Woodward
  13. Letter to Sir Albert Bore - underinvestment in Birmingham children’s social care
  14. SWAN Brighton group
  15. SWAN Solidarity Message in support of protests in Hong Kong



SWAN is a democratic, grassroots organisation – policy making and elections take place at the AGM during the annual conference’

Social Work Manifesto.

Social work in Britain today has lost direction. We need to find more effective ways of resisting the dominant trends within social work and map ways forward for a new engaged practice…

Get involved.


SWAN developed from the Social Work Manifesto written in 2004. It launched a popular defence of social work in the aftermath of the Baby Peter tragedy in 2008. It continues to hold successful conferences and campaigns; the 9th national SWAN conference will be held in Durham in April 2014.

SWAN is a membership organisation and we are dependent on the funds of members, plus what monies we take from our annual conference to run the organisation. You can find out about membership here.

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Change the course of social work


The next SWAN national conference is the eighth. It takes place at Durham University on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th April 2014. We will regularly update the SWAN website with information about speakers and booking. You can find these pages in the Conference 2014 section. Please email SWAN North East at ioakimides [at] googlemail.com if you have questions about the conference.

The title of the 2014 SWAN Conference is yet to be confirmed. This is the first time that a national SWAN conference has been held in the North East of England and we hope it will be the biggest ever SWAN event. It will link up social workers (in practice, education, research and training), service users and carers, trade unions, user-led groups, anti-cuts organisations, pressure groups, the disabled people and women's movements to unite to defeat the Coalition Government's social policy direction. Just as importantly we will debate, promote and celebrate alternative models and visions of social care.

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SWAN address & email

Social Work Action Network (SWAN)
c/o Iain Ferguson
School of Social Science
University of the West of Scotland

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