Meet the markers for the SWU Assignment: World Social Work Day 2024 Essay Competition

BUEN VIVIR: shared future for transformative change | World Social Work Day, 19th March 2024, #WSWD2024 | IFSW, Social Workers Union (SWU)

Social work students and apprentices be sure to submit your entries by the end of day Sunday 16th June 2024 for the chance to win £500.

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is pleased to announce that Lynne Gargiulo, Rebecca Austin, and Professor Jermaine Ravalier will be marking this year’s SWU Assignment essay competition. Our marking panel members are looking forwards to reading the responses from social work students and apprentices from across the UK to the question:

 “Why does reflective supervision matter in social work? How does it support social worker wellbeing and practice?”

Up to four of the most compelling arguments within the word limit of 750-1000 words will win a grant of £500 each. Further details and winning essays from previous years are available on the SWU Assignment webpage.

Without further ado, let us introduce you to the markers of the SWU Assignment 2024!

Lynne Gargiulo

A photograph of Lynne Gargiulo in front of a bookshelf in her living room.

Lynne Gargiulo is a Trade Union Official / Advice and Representation (A&R) Officer for the Social Workers Union (SWU) and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and is a qualified social worker.

Prior to joining the BASW Team in 2023, Lynne spent 21 years working for Shropshire Local Authority Adult Services, initially as a social worker in both Community and Hospital settings specialising in physical disability, then moving into a locality management position. Lynne also supervised the ‘Preparing for Adulthood Team’ Social Workers (supporting young people with disabilities transitioning into the next stage of life).

Lynne has a wealth of knowledge and experience, having spent her entire working life within social care, starting out as a learning disability support worker spanning day and residential care services. Lynne describes as having social work through to ‘her core’ with an absolute passion and determination to challenge discrimination, inequality, and injustice. Committed to helping people to identify and remove barriers to opportunities, ensuring awareness of rights and that these rights are upheld, and vitally that people have a voice. Never more important than during her time as an Independent RPR (Relevant Person’s Representative) standing alongside individuals detained under DOLS orders.

Lynne feels that the move to the A&R Team and the Trade Union Role was a natural transition and ‘her calling’ as having such a deep love and respect for the social work profession with an acute awareness of how challenging the social work business is in the current climate. She is now able to represent social workers faced with employment issues in the workplace.  Lynne brings her knowledge and experience of Employment Processes and Employment Law to her role, crucially including Equality Act 2010 in terms of challenging areas of discrimination, including amongst others Employment Rights Act and Health & Safety legislation to ensure that our Members are treated fairly and lawfully and are fully represented to address any inequitable, unsafe working conditions.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Desmond Tutu

Rebecca Austin

Rebecca Austin is a member of the SWU Executive Committee.

“Since qualifying as a Social Worker in 2018 I have sought to have varying professional experiences to support my learning and development, as an allocated Children and Families Social Worker, within Early Help roles and DFE projects. This has enabled me to build on my knowledge and skills, from preventive support to crisis interventions.

In addition,  I have enjoyed maintaining a commitment to my own learning through training within Dyadic Developmental Practice (DDP). This has offered a new depth to understanding a way of being with others which truly encompasses Acceptance, Empathy and Curiosity to aid communication. I hope to continue to build on my therapeutic training as I partake in the Level Two DDP training in June 2024 and also through my current training in Non-Violence Resistance which I am due to complete in March 2024.

My learning outside of Social Work roles has been a central factor in my own development as a practitioner, both guiding and bringing me back to the core interests, beliefs and values I hold as a practitioner. Central to this is keeping in mind an understanding of how people arrived at their current position and the challenges faced by those accessing services. As a practitioner I aim to work alongside people in a kind and respectful manner, understanding that reaching out for support is a big step.

I am someone who has a love for learning about and understanding different communities and practices and have been fortunate through my role on the SWU Executive Committee to participate in knowledge exchange trips.  This has included visiting Palestine in 2020 and most recently Canada in October 2023, spending time with organisations working with the First Nations population, advocating for their rights and the support offered within therapeutic treatment centres. I was particularly struck by how the values weaved through the organisations we visited, these centred around Hope, Belonging, Meaning and Purpose as a framework for practice.

Having such experiences reignites a passion for working within organisations with a clear mission, goals and values and has been a driver in my desire to most recently take a role within a third sector organisation. It brings me back to my motivations for entering Social Work having volunteered with Home-Start and reminds me how inspired I feel when visiting or being part of such organisations. What I see, feel and experience is a passion, drive and inventive support for the communities and people they serve. Having very much enjoyed reading through SWU’s previous assignments competitions, feeling that excitement as the writers offer a hope and aspiration for a Social Work practice that is relational and recognises the structural inequalities, as well as ideas for how we move forward in addressing the challenges to practice.  I look forward to having the opportunity to support in marking this year’s assignment competition.”

Professor Jermaine Ravalier

Image of Professor Jermaine Ravalier

“I am Professor and Head of School of Health and Social Care Professions and Buckinghamshire New University. My academic role therefore is about supporting my team in their training of the next generation of health, allied health, and social care professions – including social workers!

My research, however, focuses mostly on the social work workforce, and how we as a society, how employers, and how individual social workers can support and improve the health and wellbeing of the whole workforce. Social Justice lies at the heart of everything I do – making a positive difference in the lives of others. And this is why I think social work is so crucial. However, good social work requires good working conditions. Therefore, I work to improve working conditions for social workers, and this in turn improves the care and support they can give to the individuals, service users, and families that they work with.”

Professor Jermaine Ravalier is a SWU Ambassador and SWU has had the privilege to work with him on research projects including the Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions: Good Practice Toolkit, the UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing study, and the Reflective Supervision – A Best Practice Guide (2024) which will be launched in June. He co-authored the research paper “A Rapid Review of Reflective Supervision in Social Work” which can be accessed for free in the British Journal of Social Work.