Major conference to look at impact of austerity on social work

  • Date

    Mon 16 Apr 18

Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis

Social work professionals, service users and campaigners will come together at our Southend Campus to discuss the impact of austerity and the rise of far-right politics on social services.

More than 320 delegates from around the world will attend this year’s Social Work Action Network conference, 'Whose side are we on? Social work, austerity, racism and resistance!', hosted by our Centre for Social Work on 20-21 April.

Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis, Director of the Centre for Social Work, helps organise the event in his role as a founding member of the Social Work Action Network. 

Professor Ioakimidis explained the motivation behind this year’s conference theme: “Over the last couple of years, social workers have seen the damaging effect of austerity with budget cuts in social care in the range of £20 billion. Added to that, we’ve seen the rise of far right populism in elections. These are the realities social workers face day in, day out. We want to talk about this and see how we can deal with it.” 

The conference will include sessions on housing and social care, children’s services, and racism. Speakers include Moyra Samuels (Justice4Grenfell), Carolyn Willow (children’s rights campaigner) and Weyman Bennett (Stand Up to Racism), along with Essex experts Professor Ioakimidis, Professor Paul Hunt and Professor Peter Beresford

“Social workers want to be out working with the most vulnerable people in our communities”
Professor Vasilios Ioakimidis Director of Centre for Social Work

Professor Ioakimidis said: “Our first conference was titled ‘We didn’t come to social work for this’. It was about reclaiming the reason we got into social work – to effect social justice. Social workers want to be out working with the most vulnerable people in our communities but now they’re expected to spend 70% of their time in front of screens.

“The conference has grown each year and one of our biggest achievements is it doesn’t have a silo approach – it’s a safe and empowering environment for practitioners, academics and service users to share ideas.”

The Social Work Action Network is a campaign organisation of social work and social care practitioners, service users, carers and academics. First launched in 2004, it is now one of the most well-known social work networks and has spawned spin-off groups in Japan, Greece and Hong Kong.