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Wednesday, 09 September 2015

Europe’s social workers gather in Edinburgh for IFSW conference

Written by The Editorial Team

The biggest gathering of social workers in Europe has taken place in Edinburgh this week with delegates from 40 countries gathering to discuss how best to support people and communities in a changing landscape across the continent.

The European refugee crisis, climate of austerity, moves towards privatisation of services and integration of social care and health were just some of the topics of discussion at the International Federation of Social Work European Conference and Social Services Expo.

Opening the event at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Bridget Robb, Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said she hoped professionals would be able to learn from each other about what works in their home country.

She added: “This conference picks up the current challenges we all face on issues such as migration, austerity and how we can respond together to these challenges in partnership.

“Partnership with people who use our services, partnership as the collective social work community and partnership with other professionals.”

In a conference address, Ms Robb (pictured) also condemned the British Government’s response to Europe’s refugee crisis, calling on people to “walk the streets” in protest.

She said: “Those of us who work in England have been horrified by our own government’s response using language that is so negative and dehumanising of the experiences people have had.

Ms Robb highlighted how social workers were supporting those on “human journeys” at railway stations and ports of entry across Europe.

She added: “We do not support what our politicians are saying. We have a voice to stand up and be counted alongside people who are using our services.”

Here are a selection of highlights from the event:
  • Sometimes we all just need a hug, says service user
    A plea to bring more “humanity” into caring has been made by Graham Morgan, Manager of Inverness-based user group HUG (Action for Mental Health). He was describing the psychiatrists, nurses and social workers who helped him during his months of detention. Read Article

  • Troubled young Danes get food for thought A weekly meal in a homely setting is being used by Danish social workers to help at risk young people to make positive transitions into adulthood. The scheme called Vikasku in the Danish city of Horsens provides a safe haven for troubled youngsters through an eight-week course with each session starting with a sit down-meal. Read Article

  • Social work must reclaim historic mandate to push for fairness Social work needs to reaffirm its historic mandate to stand up against social injustice rather than focusing on “rescuing” people from the margins of society. The call came from leading European social work academic Professor Walter Lorenz at the International Federation of Social Workers’ European Conference in Edinburgh. Read Article

  • Space agency has lessons for social services NASA’s method of investigating mistakes in space should be reproduced within social services departments. Instead of blaming the astronauts, the space agency encourages open discussion of errors which are attributed to the whole system, delegates at the International Federation of Social Workers European Conference were told. Read Article