What we stand for – A Profession Worth Fighting for!
The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is a radical, campaigning organisation of social work and social care practitioners, students, service users, carers and academics, united by our concern that social work practice is being undermined by managerialism and marketisation, by the stigmatisation of service users and by welfare cuts and restrictions. While recognizing that social work is one of the mechanisms through which the state controls the behaviours of poor families, we believe nevertheless that social work is a valuable activity that can help people address the problems and difficulties in their lives. Many of these difficulties are rooted in the inequalities and oppressions of the modern world and good social work necessarily involves confronting the structural and public causes of so many private ills.
For the past few months, SWAN Ireland have been working to make ourselves known to social workers, social care workers, social work academics, service users and various other members of civil society. We have been doing this because we believe the time has come for social workers to take a stand and to align with those being marginalised, oppressed and being made to pay for the mistakes of others. We believe that now is the time to “reclaim” Social Work and its radical tradition as opposed to the increasing fragmentation of services, working conditions, bureaucracy as well as the closure of services and cuts involved in the “privatisation” of services, not to mention the psychological strain involved in attempts to demonise social workers for the ills of society, such as those that came to light by the Right during debates in the recent referendum. These attacks on our profession and service users are should now act as a cause to fight for social justice and reformulate a new framework through coming together in SWAN. It is time for us to speak out and to stand in solidarity with each other, with service users and with civil society now rising in the social movements. It is our duty as agents of social change to do this by organising in SWAN, in the Union, workplace, colleges and communities.
The recession, austerity and sustained attacks on the welfare state are set to get worse and it is only the struggle of workers in Unions and social movements that can defeat this injustice and widening of inequality. SWAN asks you consider where your social work values/ ethical framework are located in this context? What are your ideas for an egalitarian society? Where does the social worker fit in all of this? Are we the agitator? Are we the ones who challenge? Are we truly on the side of the oppressed is so how are we advocating? Are we the ones who challenge the structural inequalities in the system? If you feel you have a role to play however small, we encourage you to get involved. Perhaps write for our Newsletter and make your own “Voice from the Frontline” heard. It is imperative that social workers are more courageous now than ever before and we can challenge the system if we do it collectively.