Updated Austerity Action Group “Campaign Action Pack” to be launched at the SWU Conference

BATTLING THE COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS CAMPAIGN ACTION PACK | Social Workers Union (SWU), British Association of Social Workers (BASW)

The Social Workers Union (SWU) and British Association of Social Workers (BASW) are proud to support the updating of this activism toolkit and hope you will join us for its launch on April 27 in Manchester.

The Austerity Action Group (AAG) was born out of the 2017 Boot Out Austerity campaign and is funded by SWU. The AAG was created to tackle the issues of poverty and inequality that continue to negatively affect people who use social services and is a key vehicle in the ongoing campaign by SWU and BASW for a more socially just society.

The updated Campaign Action Pack aims to facilitate and support local, regional, and national actions opposing austerity by our members and other social workers. It is a step-by-step guide outlining everything from how to organise public meetings, rallies, and awareness-raising film nights to setting up petitions, talking to local politicians, and contacting the press. We have designed this pack to be comprehensive, easy to use, and accessible for people who have never campaigned before as well as those who are seasoned activists. It is a tool for change.

SWU is pleased to be launching the Campaign Action Pack at our conference on April 27th at the historic Mechanics Institute in Manchester. Social workers, NQSWs, and students from across the UK are invited to join us for this free event which will also be featuring a live performance by the Banner Theatre Group.

A limited number of printed copies of the pack will be available exclusively at the SWU Conference and attendees will also be provided with a link to download the document.

Dave Callow, SWU Chair, who is an AAG member and will be attending the launch, remarked:

“The Austerity Action Group (AAG) Campaign Action Pack reminds us of a vital message – that poverty, austerity and a current cost-of-living crisis continues to exclude the most vulnerable from our society. I look forward to the launch of this pack and reading how social workers and the social work profession can offer hope in difficult times in the ongoing quest for social justice.”

Julia Ross, BASW Chair, emphasised the importance of activism in social work:

“Poverty devastates people’s lives. When repeated over generations, as we now experience, it has a huge personal, political and policy impact. We must take action now.”

As a part of the ongoing campaign against austerity and, as we are now also facing this cost-of-living crisis, the Austerity Action Group is asking social workers to send in examples of digital poverty and/or fuel poverty experienced by those they support. Please get in touch with any examples at aag@swu-union.org.uk.

A message from the AAG

As Vice-Chair of the Austerity Action Group, I am very pleased to see the production of an updated 2024 version of this Campaign Action Pack, building on the initial one created some seven years ago.

It is significant that social workers – supported by their professional association and specialist trade union – have invested time and effort in keeping the messages of this anti-austerity campaigning pack alive. We recognize the extent to which policy choices of recent governments continue to oppress the poor and the marginalized, thereby putting more pressure on social work to “pick up the pieces”. 

Many social workers have only ever practised in times of austerity; many only know casework and do not have a “political” view about the causes of the struggles faced by families on their caseloads.

I urge all readers and browsers of this pack to not just reflect on what a great piece of radical work it is, but to make a commitment to act on its contents – it is an ACTION pack, after all!

Such action need not be intensive or extensive. We have all heard how exhausted social workers are at the end of each day and do not have the energy to do “extra work”. Just start small. Maybe put the pack on your next team meeting, look to a joint initiative with colleagues, approach a local voluntary group or the people with lived experience group at your local university to see what a useful local focus might be, or go along to a MP’s surgery and let them know what life is really like for many of their constituents.

Better still, stand or encourage your friends to stand as local councillors – future social work needs you to help rid us of the austerity curse that has so affected us all.

Do something, please.

Three protesters walking with a sign that says "BOOT OUT AUSTERITY!" | Social Workers Union (SWU) Austerity Action Group (AAG)

Peter Unwin

Austerity Action Group Vice Chair

The SWU Conference 2024 is a free event focusing on social work, trade unionism, and activism. Included for all attendees are a CPD Certificate, lunch and refreshments, inspiring keynote speakers, a live theatre performance, and a Campaign Action Pack download. Be sure to book today while places are still available: