In the lead up to World Social Work Day, tonight’s 50th Anniversary event, taking place in The Edge, will celebrate the achievements of graduates from the University in social work and point to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for social care, policy and practice in the years to come.

Attendees will hear from an eminent panel of speakers, including Professor Anna Scheyett (Dean of Social Work at the University of Georgia), Dr Ruth Allen (Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers) and Professor Ian Shaw (founder of the European Social Work Research Association) each addressing the current issues that affect the sector. Underlying each talk will be a message about the pace of change faced by policy-makers and practitioners working in the sector on both sides of the Atlantic.

Professor Anna Scheyett, whose TedX talk ‘Social workers as super-heroes’ is one of the most watched on YouTube, will set out the challenges for social work in the US, in the context of a divided and deeply fractured, 'post-fact' society. In her presentation she will point to the role social workers can have in healing divisions and will suggest social workers need to develop their skills in ‘both the development and use of information, as well as their skills in persuasion and inclusive voice.

Presentations from Dr Ruth Allen and Professor Ian Shaw will in turn set out perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for social work research, policy and practice in the UK-context of an ageing population, healthcare reform and budgetary pressures.

Ahead of the event, organiser and former practising social worker Dr Justin Rogers from our Department of Social & Policy Sciences, commented: “Social work in the UK and across the world is in a state of flux and practitioners in the sector are experiencing a time of rapid change. Budgetary pressures, an expanding and ageing population mean that social work for today’s graduates is very different from in the past. But social work remains one of the most important careers affecting all in society and a career as a social worker can be one of the most rewarding.

“To have attracted such a stellar line up of speakers to our 50th anniversary event speaks volumes for the regard social work at Bath is held both nationally and internationally. With colleagues from the Department, I am particularly looking forwarding to interacting with many of our social work graduates who are returning to be part of tonight’s event.”

Professor Anna Scheyett , whose talk will discuss the four major areas of challenge for social work, added: “In thinking about social work in the US and UK, I am struck by the similar commitment to service for the purpose of promoting social well-being and social justice. There are great similarities in our challenges: tensions regarding immigrants, ensuring equal access to services, working in a labile political time. There are differences as well, of course. But in both countries social work is and must be engaged in advocacy for the rights of the most vulnerable."

Since the first intake of students back in 1979, over 700 alumni have graduated from one of our social work related degrees, many of whom now work as social workers both locally and nationally. In recent years, armed with the skills and experience from a Bath degree, around 40 new social work graduates go on to practice across the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors.

The event has been organised by Megan Robb and Justin Rogers from the social work group.

If you enjoyed reading this you might also find interesting: