The Social Workers Union (SWU) is delighted to announce the winners of our World Social Work Day 2020 SWU Assignment Student Essay Competition

WSWD 2020 Human Relationships SWU flyer

“Working Better Together: How do we build stronger relationships between social workers and people using services?”

Charlotte Pitt of Cardiff University, Omar Mohamed of University of Birmingham, Verity Clarke of   Dundee University, and University of Lincoln’s Holly Clarke wrote winning essays to the question: “Working Better Together: How do we build stronger relationships between social workers and people using services?”

Each winning entrant will receive £500.

John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, said, “I am delighted in the interest shown in this assignment and the ‘Working Better Together’ topic appears to have stimulated student social workers in submitting entries in an extremely very high number. SWU will continue to support the Austerity Action Group and work with service user groups  and it is good to see that future social workers have a deep understanding of this and this is important for new social workers.”

Jon Dudley, BASW Hon Officer and member of the Austerity Action Group was one of the assignment markers.  He said, “It’s been a great privilege to have the opportunity to consider the diverse range of entries to the SWU Essay Competition. 2020 has been an extraordinary year in so many ways. Some of the entries have reflected on the impact this has had, both on the social work profession and on the way, we relate to the people we work with. My thanks go to all the contenders and of course huge congratulations to the winners.”

Another marker was Carol Reid, SWU National Officer, who commended this year’s competition participants, saying, “It’s good to see so many students engaging with the Social Workers Union by entering this competition.” Carol added, “I’m impressed by the standard of all entries, but the ones that stood out for me were those that emphasised the importance of challenging austerity and oppression, promoting and encouraging activism, the relevance of trade unions and the importance of advocating for and working alongside service-users. I hope that all entrants will go on to be wonderful social work practitioners, activists and trade unionists.”

The four winner essays are available to read here as a PDF. (click here)

Winning quotes from the four winners

Omar Mohamed of University of Birmingham said: “I am extremely grateful to have my assignment on how poverty-aware social work can make a significant contribution to building stronger relationships between social workers and the people we work with recognised. This is a topic that I am deeply passionate about on both a personal and professional level and I hope that the key ideas can be reflected upon to create meaningful action and change in the social work profession.”

Verity Clarke of Dundee University said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to write about this important subject and absolutely thrilled to have my essay deemed worthy of a winning place. Having recently undertaken my first practice learning opportunity, I have seen first-hand the positive change that sound relationships between social workers and people who use services can foster. The centrality of relationships in social work is widely acknowledged and frequently discussed, though must never be taken for granted.”

Charlotte Pitt of Cardiff University said: “I am delighted to have been selected as one of the winners for this years competition. The process of writing the essay was useful in reflecting on practice and on a really important topic. I hope that the ideas from all the applicants will be taken forward to push for real change.”

Holly Clarke of University of Lincoln said: “I’m very excited to have my essay recognised in this way. Social workers operate in a constantly changing environment and the ways that we practice have to advance accordingly.  The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes and social workers have had to adapt their practice in a way that could never have been envisaged. Social work students are in a unique position to ensure that the learning from the pandemic is taken forward into the practice of future.”