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.

SWAN Conference 2015 took place at the University of West Scotland in Paisley on 10th & 11th April. It was another strong and vibrant conference with over 400 delegates which was SWAN's 10th such event.Delegates at SWAN Conference 2015

The full minutes from the AGM are published below, with the motions carried available for download at the foot of the page. In the first motion, on Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel movement, SWAN members overwhelmingly voted in favour of supporting the BDS campaign, SWAN to explore formal affiliation to the  Palestinian-UK Social Work Network and for SWAN to call upon the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) and the British organisers of the IFSW conference to withdraw the invitation to participate to speakers from Israel in line with aims of BDS. In second motion, proposed by the SWAN National Steering Committee, a position of no confidence was passed in the English Chief Social Worker For Children & Families, Isabelle Trowler. This included SWAN supporting the statement made by the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee on 25/3/15 who share the concern that money being distributed to the private sector for the outsourcing of the accreditation of qualified social workers. It also encouraged SWAN supporters to sign recent online change.org petition (http://chn.ge/1Ns4RSj) demanding a full and independent enquiry into the awarding of the tender for the new Social Work accreditation for the 'Approved Child and Family Practitioner status' to KPMG and Morning Lane Associates.


SWAN supporters will already be familiar with the SWAN endorsed Mental Health Charter which was launched in 2014. The Charter critiques the crisis in mental health services in the context of austerity and calls for an end to the cuts while proposing radical alternatives. Recently the Mental Health Charter responded to the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Independent Commission into the state of Inpatient Adult Psychiatric Care as part of its call for evidence.

Please find below the full submission from the Mental Health Charter available for download.

Mental Health charter signatories will also be pleased to hear of the attention being paid to a recent open letter denouncing austerity and cuts to mental health services signed and supported by SWAN and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) alongside a host of prominent psychologists, psychotherapists and allied professions. This letter was published by the Guardian on Friday 17th April 2015 and has been picked up and circulated by trade unions and other organisations:



SWAN Conference 2015 organising committee are pleased to release the final programme for the event - please download this below.

Speakers include Ana Lima Fernandez, President of Consejo General del Trabajo Social (General Council on Social Work), who was a leader of the 'Orange Tide' anti-austerity movement in Spain to stop cuts to social services.


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  1. Award-Winning Spanish Social Work Leader will speak at SWAN Conference 2015
  2. Flyer for SWAN Conference 2015
  3. Speakers announced for SWAN Conference 2015
  4. UPDATE: SWAN Conference 2015 The Politics of Hope: Fighting for the Future of Social Work
  5. PsychoPolitics in the Twenty First Century: Peter Sedgwick and radical movements in mental health
  6. 'Can Openers' the debut novel by Mal Jones
  7. London ‘Crisis In Mental Health’ Day Conference, November 2014
  8. SWAN’s response to Clegg’s new mental health funding
  9. In memoriam - Rona Woodward
  10. Letter to Sir Albert Bore - underinvestment in Birmingham children’s social care
  11. SWAN Brighton group
  12. SWAN Solidarity Message in support of protests in Hong Kong
  13. Umbrella Movement - Hong Kong students and people fighting for democracy
  14. Public meeting: No to Privatization - the future of children’s services in Birmingham
  15. Food bank research in London Borough of Lewisham



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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Meet and network with SWAN members on Facebook.

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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