Editorial: Time for Solidarity

The financiers and politicians will no doubt continue wrangling over the best way to run the economy and get out of the recession for some time to come. That is all outside the Webmag’s remit. But services for children and young people will suffer the backwash from the country’s financial problems, and it is within our remit both to champion the cause of children and to discuss how best we make use of more limited resources. In this issue, for example, Matthew Payne reports on discussions within the special education sector and we have a news item that parents do not want to see education budgets cut.

At a time like this it is important that professionals stand together and take a common line. It was no accident that the trade union which saw off the Communist government in Poland was called Solidarity. Trades unions and professional associations need to work together, to share information, to analyse the impact of cuts and, where necessary, to take action. This is where groups such as the Children’s Services Professional Network come in useful, sharing information. People who work with children are not usually militant, but if there is the threat of real damage to the services they have a professional duty to take action.

It is therefore an unhappy turn of events that Unison and BASW are having a serious wrangle at this moment over the nature of the Social Work College. (If you want the detail, read David Brindle’s article in the Guardian 26 January 2011, p. 3.) This split is damaging in many ways. It re-inforces the old divide between trade union and professional association. It weakens the impact of campaigns to preserve services. It detracts from the public image of social work as a profession. The sooner that they get the situation sorted out the better.

Of course, BASW is not the only professional association. We have an article this month by Nick Johnson, to encourage readers to attend the Social Care Association Annual Seminar in Clydebank on 14 March. The SCA conferences are always friendly events with good speakers and a real opportunity to network. The Seminar this year is focusing on relationships, and the Institute of Childcare and Social Education will be running a session there. If you have concerns about the future of children’s services now is the time to show solidarity and join ICSE.

We are also attaching information about the SCI conference – Social Care in Ireland, who are meeting on 9 March in Athlone. Any event in Ireland is bound to be hospitable, and the programme looks really interesting.

Why not join in and show a bit of solidarity?

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