These have been an extraordinary few months for everyone. But for Social Work Scotland’s members, covid-19 has demanded a breadth and pace of innovation unlikely to be matched in many others sectors. Everyone involved in delivering care and protection has had to adjust to new models of working, incorporating technology and/or personal protective equipment. Processes and systems have been re-written, practices adapted. Our structures of support, supervision, learning and collaboration have had to move online, increasing the scope for connection but simultaneously lessening its depth. Realising core aspects of our approach – promotion of human rights, working through relationships, holistic assessments – has been challenging in the circumstances. But whether working from home or in near-empty offices, the individual and collective efforts of our members have been remarkable. As our focus begins to shift towards the ‘recovery’ stage of the pandemic, we wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge the immense contribution you have all made to date.
We are particularly grateful for the contribution members have made to Social Work Scotland’s activity. This association exists to support and represent those managing social work services, but we cannot do that without the engagement and leadership of individual members. And since the beginning of March, many of you have dedicated considerable time and effort to respond to queries, sharing information, providing peer support and participating in meetings scheduled at very short notice. We’d like to extend a special thanks to our Committee and Sub-Group Chairs, who have worked tirelessly to facilitate discussion and collaboration within their groups, and with the Scottish Government and partners. (To find out more about the association’s covid-19 activity, please check out the briefing prepared for SWS’ May 2020 Board meeting.)
As with our members, the last few months have meant disruption, change and development for Social Work Scotland. This Members’ Update sets out some of the key developments, relating to:
- Social Work Scotland’s 2020-21 Year, the election of Directors, Annual General Meeting, etc.
- Development of a strategic plan
- Changes to membership categories
- Annual Conference and Exhibition
Details on each of these are set out in the relevant sections – you can click on the links. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Indeed your input is more important than ever. For while social work services locally have responded to the current crisis with flexibility and imagination, the pandemic has underlined the need for a strong, coherent representation of social work perspectives, in local and national discussions. Many more people across Scotland now find themselves in financially precarious situations, without access to normal support structures. Older people, whether in the community or care homes, face a continued erosion in their quality of life, as infection control restricts interaction and relationships. The inequality and structural disadvantage experienced by many children and families will have been exaggerated. In such times the values and functions of social work must move from the periphery to the core of Scotland’s response.
As a public commentary on ‘key workers’ and social care throughout covid-19 has shown, social work remains poorly understood. Perhaps understandably, given its attempts to work in the background, enabling others to change, and holding different parts of the puzzle together. But as demand for support increases and evolves over the coming months, and the search for cost savings begin, social work must be in a position to articulate both its unique contribution and capacity requirements. Social Work Scotland, as your association, must continue to evolve in order to achieve this.
We must provide an effective platform from which social work leadership can influence and inform decisions making; with a view to improving the lives of people across Scotland. Your participation in Social Work Scotland over the coming months will help make that happen.
- Kathryn Lindsay, Convener of Social Work Scotland
- Alison Gordon, Vice-Convener of Social Work Scotland
- Ben Farrugia, Director, Social Work Scotland