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.

The 2013 national SWAN conference is the Network’s eighth. It takes place in London at London South Bank University on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th April 2013.

The title of the conference is ‘Defeating the politics of austerity: creating an alternative future.'

In 2012, while society becomes increasingly unequal and social protection is being severely eroded, the neoliberal consensus around austerity is starting to falter and fracture. Social workers and care employees work with parents who are forced to choose between feeding their children and paying the rent, young people who are out of work or forced to onto ‘workfare’ programmes and disabled people who are vilified as unproductive scroungers while having support for their independence and employment snatched away. Meanwhile, the immoral spectacle of Newscorp’s collusion with the UK government, rate-fixing by Barclays bank and reduction of the top rate of tax on the rich all highlight social injustice and feed the anger of people already enslaved to paying for an economic crisis caused by the global financial system. Social workers and care workers have also witnessed and participated in the fight back to defend the welfare state and the rise of social movements developing alternative visions of social care and welfare based on collective interest and mutual benefit. Join social work and care practitioners, service users, carers, educators and students in 2013 to defend, debate and create.

We will regularly update the SWAN website with information about speakers and methods for booking places as this becomes available.

In the meantime, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information on the conference.

Download this file (Call for papers - FINAL.docx)Call for papers and workshops - SWAN Conf 2013[Call for papers and workshops - SWAN Conf 2013]118 kB



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

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