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 AGM 2015 minutes
Chaired by Kerry Cuskelly, SWAN Ireland

1. Welcome:

Apologies included Peter Beresford, Mark Baldwin, Marie Porter, Bob Williams-Finlay, Rich Moth, Simon Cardy.

2. Report from National Convener Michael Lavalette:

Topics covered - local groups, access to funds, Rotherham, international work, Critical and Radical Social Work journal and SWAN pamphlets.  work for the coming year to focus on policy responses and development of international SWAN network.

3. Report from Treasurer and Membership Secretary Iain Ferguson:

Summary of income and expenditure handed out to all AGM attendees.
Membership - Roughly 4 or 5 people are joining every week. Setting up a standing order is encouraged.
Proposed action for the coming year - new SWAN postbox needed, website needs to be upgraded, financial help available to help with "start-up" of SWAN groups, steering committee to decide if accounts need to be audited or not, new treasurer/membership officer needed in 2016.

4. Report from Jeremy Weinstein on the Mental Health Charter:

Meetings throughout the year re the charter, invitations to some conferences to speak because of the charter.
300 signatories to the Charter so far. A submission was made by the charter sub-group to the Royal College of Psychiatry in respect of a document they were writing on adult inpatient care. SWAN and MH Charter encourage attendance at the Psychopolitics conference on June 10th in Liverpool Hope University.

5. Motions:

Support of Palestine UK Social Work Network/Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel from Michael Lavalette. Motion was carried with two abstentions and two against.
No confidence in Chief Social Worker for Children and Families in England by SWAN national steering commitee. Motion was carried.
(copies of motions are available for download below)

6. Election of Steering committee:

National Convener - Michael Lavalette
Deputy Convener - Shelly Ferguson
Membership Officer/Treasurer - Iain Ferguson
The three officer positions were filled and each person was elected unopposed.
All remaining people who put themselves forward for general membership of the steering committee (17) were elected by agreement of the AGM attendees.

7. AOB:

Proposal for the development of an anti-racism charter (akin to the mental health charter). This will be developed initially by the steering committee. This proposal was passed by full agreement of AGM attendees.
Proposal for SWAN to donate £100 each to two funds, the Glasgow Homelessness Workers fund and the Barnet Workers fund. This proposal was passed by full agreement of AGM attendees.

AGM ends.

Download this file (SWAN Conference 2015 - motions passed at AGM.docx)SWAN Conference 2015 - motions passed at AGM[SWAN Conference 2015 - motions passed at AGM]16 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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