Social Work Week 2021 sees children tell their stories

As communities across the globe celebrate annual World Social Work Day, social workers in England are celebrating the success of their very first Social Work Week.

Social Work England, which regulates over 100,000 social workers in England, wanted to thank everybody who supported its inaugural event Social Work Week 2021, 8-12 March in which over 10,000 free places were taken up at 73 online events, including workshops, panel discussions, films and wellbeing sessions with the theme ‘This is Social Work’.

People with lived experience of social work joined social workers, students, academics, employers and Social Work England staff to design, deliver and attend the week, which aimed to bring everyone with an interest in social work together to ‘learn, connect and engage’.

Sarah Blackmore, executive director of strategy, policy and engagement at Social Work England said:

“As the specialist regulator for social workers we were in a unique position to launch Social Work Week 2021. The sector had told us there was an appetite for something national to complement World Social Work Day and the support for the event, from its inception to the comments we’re still receiving, has been phenomenal.

“Our National Advisory Forum were a key part of the team and we were extremely privileged to hear many children and adults from across the country tell their stories of social work during the week.

“It was very important to us that the event was co-produced so that it reflected the real experiences of people who have a social worker in their lives, not just the view from the profession.”

The diversity of the audience at the event was more than matched by the breadth of subjects covered, including student activism, neurodiversity, COVID-19, mental health, anti-racist practice, leaving care, anti-Semitism, green social work, reflective practice and much more.

The most popular session, with a virtual audience of more than 1000, was ‘Reflecting for action: why it’s time to take anti-racist practice seriously in social work education and practice.’ Professor Prospera Tedam delivered this in the first day’s all-female line-up to mark International Women’s Day.

The chief social workers for adults and children and families, plus Social Work England’s chair of the board, Lord Patel of Bradford OBE also spoke during the week.

Social Work Week 2021 has been described on social media as a ‘rare opportunity’ to sit back and reflect on what being a social worker means and the challenges social workers face every day. Other comments included: “Can we all agree that #SocialWorkWeek2021 was a huge success? I’ll take away the togetherness and the celebration of social work. Thank you @SocialWorkEng.”

The event also encouraged social workers and employers all over the country, including local authorities, NHS trusts and other organisations, to launch their own social media campaigns to mark Social Work Week 2021.

Anyone who missed sessions can subscribe to Social Work England’s YouTube channel where recordings will be shared soon.

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