Social work students honoured for activism

Lucy Challoner (left) and David Grimm (right) who are leading the @swstudentsunite campaign hold the jointly signed letter on 28th October 2022.

Two social work students have been presented with special awards for their campaign to secure bursaries for students on placements in Scotland.

Lucy Challoner and David Grimm were presented with the Common Good Award for Activism by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Department of Social Work, which is part of its School of Health and Life Sciences.

The pair were nominated for the award by staff and students at the University in recognition of their campaign, which has the backing of the Social Workers Union, and calls for equality for social work students with others who work in the public sector in front-line roles during their studies.

In a recent letter to campaigners from the Minister for Further & Higher Education, Graeme Dey MSP, the Scottish Government has said reviews are taking place on options to improve financing for those social work students who undertake work placements. 

The letter came after students secured the support of a powerful cross-party committee of MSPs and after more than 2,000 people signed the call for bursaries for all third and fourth year undergraduate social work students in Scotland – as well as reform of post-graduate bursary funding. 

John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union (SWU), commented:

“I’m so proud of Lucy, David and all the social work students in Scotland who came together to launch this campaign. We are finally seeing progress on this vital issue and it is down to the hard work and dedication of these remarkable students.”

Dr Sharon Jackson, Head of the Social Work Department at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), said:

“At the core of Lucy and David’s campaign work is a commitment to social justice and a drive to create change for others through meaningful social and political action. This exemplifies the spirit of social work. The Department of Social Work at GCU recognised their work for embodying the core values of the profession. We are incredibly proud of both of them.”

David Grimm said:

“It was a deep honour to receive this award from the staff and students of the Glasgow Caledonian University social work course as it showed just how much they all believe in Lucy and I, and the work were doing with SWU and the Scottish Association of Social Work to try and achieve positive change for the students of the future. 

“I was overwhelmingly proud to be in the room with classmates as our lecturers presented our awards and I hope to live up to the faith all have placed in myself and our bursary campaign.”

Lucy Challoner added:

“I was very grateful to be nominated for the common good award for social activism alongside David. The work we have been doing with SWU and SASW serves as a reminder of how important the bursary campaign is in improving education and outcomes for social work students. 

“This is an area we are both very passionate about. I felt very proud to have our efforts recognised by the university. We will continue on with our efforts towards the campaign.”