Portcullis House Westminster 1-2pm 23 Feb 2016
The meeting was held to coincide with a meeting with Labour MPs later in the day. The timing was difficult for some who would have wanted to come, but was arranged to fit with a meeting with Labour parliamentarians that afternoon.
- One or other of the meetings was attended by 21 members, supporters (mostly not ‘signed up’ as members because employment or other reasons precluded being linked with a particular political party) or observers (from BASW, Unison, SWAN (Social Work Action Network); APSW and JUC-SWEC (representative bodies for social work professor and University lecturers). Members came from N East, N West, N Ireland, Midlands, East Anglia, London and South Coast, and included student social workers, recently qualified and more experienced social workers and team leaders, retired social workers and managers and academics and researchers.
- June Thoburn summarised the reasons for starting the group in February 2015 (listed on website). There are now just over 108 ‘signed up’ members and 35 supporters
There are nearly 500 twitter followers of @laboursocialworkgroup
Briefings on particular issues (eg proposed changes to social work education; outsourcing of social work decision making consequent upon the Statutory Instrument of 2015; the possible introduction of mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse) have been sent to individual shadow ministers, MPs and members of H of Lords There have been 2 briefing meetings with Labour Shadow ministers (Steve McCabe and Bill Esterson in Spring
Links have been made with Labour affiliated groups (Socialist Health – who hosted a meeting at the Brighton Conference- Labour Housing, Mental Health, Disability and Labour Lawyers
There has been lobbying re local issues (only in Norfolk as yet but the group will support others who would like to campaign locally).
- Since the officers of the group are self-appointed, Alan Cubbage proposed and Bob murphy seconded that for a 2 year term June Thoburn will service as Chair, Bill Esterson MP as Vice Chair, Sam Earl as Secretary and Jackie Mitchell as Treasurer.
- There was a discussion of financing of the group. Our needs are modest but it was agree that donations would be sought to fund the website, meeting placards, and fares for students/ service users to attend meetings.
- How to get the group better known and recruit more members was raised. Twitter is already active. Donna Peach offered to give us more of a presence on Facebook. Andrew Hollingworth (who convenes a group of student social workers) will publicise the Labour Group amongst students. (He will contact seeking offers of assistance to talk to local groups of student social workers).
- There followed a lively discussion of strategy for the coming year, especially in terms of having a route into Labour policy-making. Key issues, to be taken up later at the MPs meeting- including: the importance of social work education at qualifying level focusing on social work as a ‘generic’ profession; labour’s policy on integration of health and social care across the needs and age groups; outsourcing of social work decision making. Joanna Hughes spoke of the powerlessness of probation officers in the face of the governments plans to privatise the probation service and the present increased vulnerability of potention victioms and the redused and confusing service to offenders and their families.