(Photo) David N Jones, Paula McFadden, Rory Truell, Silvana Martinez, Lola Casal, Jermaine Ravalier
The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and Bath Spa University Centre for Health and Cognition (in association with Ulster University Social Work Department) have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding which will form the basis of a new research partnership aiming to shine a spotlight on the everyday working environment of social workers around the world.
Working through IFSW member organisations and social media, it is planned to undertake a pilot global study of social workers during 2019 and to produce a first report in 2020, linked to the report of The Global Agenda for Social Work. The report will be launched at the global social work conference in Calgary, Canada in July 2020.
Dr Jermaine M Ravalier of Bath Spa University has undertaken two major workforce surveys in association with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU) in the United Kingdom. The outcomes have been highly influential politically, professionally and managerially, being the subject of a debate in the UK Parliament and wide publicity. In the first instance the global survey will draw heavily on those tested research instruments but will also include a few questions of global relevance.
IFSW World President Silvana Martinez has undertaken research on the wellbeing of social workers in Latin America. She commented: ‘I am pleased and excited that IFSW is launching this significant global research project with Bath Spa University. Social workers cannot provide effective services for some of the most vulnerable people in the world unless they are respected by their employers and have a positive a working environment. This research will shine a spotlight on the reality of social work worldwide.’
IFSW Secretary General, Rory Truell, commented: ‘Social workers are absolutely crucial to social development and social cohesion everywhere in the world. They also make a very significant contribution to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Yet it is shocking that there is no comparative data about the real working conditions of social workers around the world. Over the coming years, this partnership will provide reliable information about social workers and their working environments to inform national and international policy development.’
Dr Jermaine Ravalier is Reader in Work and Wellbeing (Psychology) and co-directs the Centre for Health and Cognition at Bath Spa University. He commented: ‘Bath Spa University is very pleased to have formed this partnership with IFSW to look at the hugely important questions surrounding the working environment of social workers, building on our previous work with the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Workers Union. Research shows clearly that a poor working environment damages the health and wellbeing of social workers and is also bad for the people who use social services. We intend to build partnerships with universities and social work associations around the world as we develop this research into a truly global study of this long neglected area, which is of such great importance to the world.’
The partnership was brought together by David N Jones, former IFSW President and currently Chair of the BASW International Committee. He has undertaken research into effective and ethical working environments for social work and social service.
Ruth Allen (Chief Executive, BASW) and John McGowan (General Secretary, SWU) commented: ‘Our excellent partnership with Bath Spa University has generated research which provides the foundation for our national campaign for better working conditions for social workers. We anticipate that the global research will help us all understand the similarities and differences in contexts, achievements and struggles of social workers by publishing data and stories. It will undoubtedly strengthen global social work solidarity and the International Federation.’
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
IFSW is the global body for the social work profession. The Federation and its national members in 126 countries strive for social justice, human rights and inclusive, sustainable social development through the promotion of social work best practice and engagement in international cooperation. IFSW has been granted Special Consultative Status by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). IFSW is working with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). IFSW has a close working relationship with the International Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Council for Social Welfare.
Dr Jermaine Ravalier has expertise in working conditions and how these conditions influence the health and wellbeing of employees. He investigates ways in which working conditions, and employee health and wellbeing, can be improved.
Dr Jermaine Ravalier https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/our-people/jermaine-ravalier/
Dr Paula McFadden (Ulster University Department of Social Work) has undertaken research on burnout and resilience in social work https://www.ulster.ac.uk/staff/p-mcfadden
BASW/SWU campaign for better working conditions https://www.basw.co.uk/campaign-milestones/
UK social workers: working conditions and wellbeing report (Ravalier) https://www.basw.co.uk/system/files/resources/basw_42443-3_1.pdf
People need people: releasing the potential of people working in social services (Jones) https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120107090623/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/JJR1453.pdf