The Advancement of Social Work: Studies in Social Work to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Social Workers’ Educational Trust 1972-2022

These essays, by recent award winners from The Social Workers’ Educational Trust, illustrate the variety of ways in which social work is practiced in the 2020s.

Fifty years after the founding of the Trust, social work practitioners continue to work out the principles of social work as a profession, responding to new developments within society and developing new knowledge whilst remaining true to its core values.

This collection will be of interest to everyone involved in social work practice and education, from those considering it as a profession to students, experienced workers, academics and everyone seeking to know what contemporary social work is about.

Edited by David Pitcher and Beverley Burke

ISBN 978-1-86178-091-1

Available from BASW


Fundamental to the practice of social work is the ability to undersand the circumstances of those who need our help.

Understanding is necessary but not sufficient; we also need to be able to deliver the help needed, on terms that are acceptable to all involved. This means enabling those who call on us to remain the most significant authors of their biographies.

They are not ‘problems to be solved’ but individuals in whom we can invest our time and abilities so that they become better equipped to shape their own lives.

The help needed is often practical, urgent and short term but it can go well beyond that too; it can be life-long, deeply personal and highly complex.

Many of the challenges faced by those who turn to us for help arise or are aggravated by wider social structures and power relations. That is why social work, at its best, is an aligned profession; it is partisan, not in a political sense, but in the sense of standing by and standing with those who need us.

For social work to be useful, meaningful and effective, we need social workers who are imaginative, creative, resourceful as well as knowledgeable, technically skilled and professionally managed.

Social work also needs access to the resources of the state and a strong claim on the attention of government. In Wales, in the post-devolution era, there has always been strong support for a distinct and distinctive social work profession as a key force in shaping the more equal, just and inclusive society we want to see.

We may use but must not rely on our intuition, our personal experiences, our enthusiasms nor even our basic training. Social work professionals also need to be open to new ideas, reflective and willing to change.

That is why research of the sort funded by SWET and captured in this book is so important. Social work is a dynamic profession that must constantly reinventiself to remain relevant in an ever-changing context.

But we must never forget why we are here. We are here to help those whose Circumstances require our help and whose resources and networks are insufficient without us.

To make sure that we do not leave behind those who need us most, it is important, as the content of this book demonstrates, that social work itself advances.

the Right Honourable Professor Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister for Wales