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Social Work England appoints new co-production group: their national advisory forum

A group of people with lived experience of social work are now advising the new specialist regulator of 100,000 social workers.

Social Work England appoints new co-production group: their national advisory forum

7/7/2020 12:00:00 PM

A group of people with lived experience of social work are now advising the new specialist regulator of 100,000 social workers, Social Work England.

They form the national advisory forum, which is being introduced on National Co-production Week to mark the organisation’s commitment to put co-production at the heart of its work. Co-production is about enabling more equal partnerships between people who use services, social workers, educators, and Social Work England as the regulator.

The group, which includes people who have experienced social work, as well as social workers, students and lecturers, will provide expert advice and challenge to the organisation in its mission to help ensure high standards of social work practice, public protection, and that those who use social work services receive the best possible support whenever they might need it in life. Social Work England holds the national register of social workers, investigates where there may be concerns about a social worker and inspects social work education and training courses.

The 11 participants went through a stringent selection process, which involved a written personal statement, recruitment day and panel interview. They are now working alongside Social Work England staff on a range of projects including delivery of their corporate and equality, diversity and inclusion strategies, research and events. They will act as a critical friend, contributing individual expertise and perspectives, working with the 8 regional engagement leads and making recommendations to the leadership team.

Sally, one of the new members of the national advisory forum, said, “I want to connect learning and practice with real people like me. We need to look at how things are done and why. A social worker came into my family’s life and created a structure that allowed us to thrive, and my family is the better for it.

We need co-production in social work regulation to keep it real, relevant and accessible for people with lived experience to understand. To empower us to build a bond. There is no room for ‘them and us’, it needs to be ‘we’.”

Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, said, “Our work impacts on millions of people in society every day. To have the input, expertise and guidance of the national advisory forum is absolutely central to helping us and the sector deliver better outcomes for everyone who interacts with social work. We’re hugely grateful to everybody who has given their time to design and develop Social Work England since its inception. People with lived experience, social workers and other partners have informed our decisions every step of the way, from creating our brand to helping us produce new rules and standards for the profession.

As a social worker myself, I want to ensure we deliver regulation in line with social work values, which are about doing things with, not to, people and taking a relationship-based approach. The national advisory forum marks a big step towards embedding co-production in every aspect of our work as part of our ambition to be radically different.”

The members of the national advisory forum come from a diverse variety of backgrounds and regions and were selected by social workers and people with lived experience on their suitability for the role, their values and ability to constructively challenge. In October they will be inviting those representing Social Work England’s other main stakeholders, such as sector organisations and principal social workers, to discuss our joint ambitions for this fantastic profession.