SWU is delighted to announce the winners of our World Social Work Day 2022 Student Essay Assignment Competition

IFSW WSWD 15 March 2022

Three social work students have each won £500

Arzu Bokhari of Cardiff University, Natalia Phillips of Brunel University, and Marissa Bruneau of the University of Dundee wrote winning essays to the question: 

“Considering the current negative TV and general media portrayals of social workers what action can be taken to change this?”

Each winning entrant will receive £500. Thank you to all the students who participated in the competition this year – it was a pleasure to read your thoughtful and passionate essays on this topic.

John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, said, “I am delighted in the interest shown in this assignment and this topic focusing on media portrayals appears to have enthused student social workers in submitting entries in a high number.” McGowan added, “SWU will continue to campaign for positive representations of social workers and our ongoing work in creating media guidelines for reporting on cases involving social workers is a starting point. It is good to see that future social workers have a deep understanding of this, and this is important for new social workers.”

Shahid Naqvi, Editor, Professional Social Work Magazine said, “It was interesting reading such a range of thoughts on this pertinent topic for social work. The winners shone through because they not only offered strong analysis of the issues but also good practical solutions. Engaging with the media rather than seeing it as the enemy is crucial in improving portrayals of social work – and the winning essays all showed an understanding of this.”

Another marker was Lindsey Huxtable-Dowd, BASW / SWU A&R Service Manager, who commended the assignments, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to mark the SWU assignments; the depth of understanding, insight and analysis shown by the students was a pleasure to read. There were some excellent ideas on how media may be influenced, giving confidence that the social work voice could strengthen and the narrative may change to reflect that social work and social workers are brilliant.”

Dave Callow, University Lecturer, SWU Executive Member and one of the markers, added, “It was impressive to read sensitive exploration of the multiple factors influencing the relationship between the media and social work. In this respect, the suggested solutions were appropriate and considered as to how we can improve our relationship with the media and as a result, the public. Excellent assignments that demonstrated the critical thinking skills and societal awareness of the next generation of social workers.”

Click here to download the three winning essays as a PDF.

Winning quotes from the three winners


Arzu Bokhari of Cardiff University said:

Thank you so much to the Social Workers Union for giving me the opportunity to discuss such a pertinent issue. This is a great way to end my journey as a postgraduate student. Working within a local authority, I can see the effect negative media portrayal has on our recruitment. I hope that with our collective suggestions, we can improve social worker morale and positively impact the lives of citizens as a result.”

Natalia Phillips of Brunel University said: 

“I feel truly honoured for the recognition given to my assignment on the media representation of social workers. As someone who is soon joining the social work profession, I feel passionate about promoting a balanced image of social work in the media. I am a strong believer in co-production, and I think that be employing an effective co-productive method in working with service users and media, we can achieve a deserved recognition and improve the quality of both the profession and its image.”

Marissa Bruneau of the University of Dundee said: 

“I am delighted and very grateful to have my submission selected this year. It was a great opportunity getting to research a topic in depth with a very thought-provoking question. I look forward to reading the other winning submissions and see how they chose to address the topic.”