Meet the SWU Team

SWU Executive Committee

John McGowan, General Secretary


Image of SWU Exec John McGowan

John McGowan (MSc, BA, BSc, DipSW, FRSA) initially served on the UK Council for BASW as a non-Executive Director between 2008 – 2012 before moving to the post of Vice President of SWU 2012 – 2016. He also served on the Scottish Association of Social Workers (SASW) Executive Committee 2004 – 2014 and latterly as its Depute Convenor. John was elected as General Secretary of SWU in 2016 for a 5-year period and re-elected unopposed in 2021. John is active with the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) and presently he sits on their National Executive Committee.

John is also the Practice Tutor for the Open University Social Work Degree programme in Scotland working with undergraduate and post graduate social work students in placement. 

Since qualifying as a Social Worker in the 1990s, John has predominately worked in the field of Children and Families, Fostering Adoption, Training Officer and still holds his social work registration.


John is proud of his working-class upbringing where he was brought up in the Muirhouse housing estate in Edinburgh, which is regarded as one of the most deprived areas in Scotland. John’s early experiences of Social Work were through his family as his parents were active Foster Carers in Edinburgh and fostered over 100 children. 

John is the co-author (with Prof Neil Thompson) of the successful book How to Survive in Social Work (2020) and has contributed widely to a range of additional media work, publications, journals and research.  John received a fellowship for his contribution to Social Work and Social Care in 2021 from the Royal Society of Arts.

SWU Staff


Calum Gallacher, Assistant General Secretary


Calum Gallacher comes from a strong working class background, growing up on a council estate in Glasgow.  He was a serial non-attender of school, had an allocated social worker, and left with no qualifications. 

Over the past 24 years he has had a varied career in health and social care, has been a qualified Social Worker since 2008, and has worked in voluntary services, clinical settings, and many community teams across the UK.  His main interests in field work are with people with learning disabilities, mental health difficulties, and older adult mental health.

Calum is committed to safeguarding people who are disadvantaged and more likely to experience complex difficulties because of conditions or socio-economic inequalities.  With his strong identity as a Social Worker, and class consciousness as a Trade Unionist, he is dedicated to principles of empowerment, equality, and social justice for all.  He is determined to support SWU in improving working conditions for social workers. 

Carol Reid, National Organiser and Union Contact Manager


Image of SWU staff member Carol Reid

Carol Reid is a registered social worker, experienced in statutory adult social care, community mental health advocacy and young people leaving care, and has previously been a full-time trade union organiser with Unison. She is National Organiser & Union Contact Manager for SWU, and still works part time as a Community Advocate in her hometown of Liverpool.

Carol joined SWU upon qualifying and became a member of the SWU Executive in 2017 before joining the team as a member of staff in 2018. She sees close parallels between trade unionism and the ideologies of social work – both are passionate forces for social justice and equality, and have roots in socialism, empowerment, and activism. “More frequently our abilities as social workers to practice effectively, and to the benefit of service users, are hindered by the restrictions of enforced austerity from the current and previous right-wing governments”.

Carol is a lifelong trade unionist with a history of local and national activism and is involved with various grass-roots groups and campaigns. She is a member of SWU’s Austerity Action Group which proudly collaborates with survivor/user groups to challenge inequality.

Carol’s hobbies include art, reading, canal-side walking, and studying working-class history. Her favourite saying is “knowledge is power”!

Joanne Marciano, Administration Manager


AR Team Admin - Joanne Marciano

Joanne Marciano is the Administration Manager for the Social Workers Union. She is responsible for the management of HR, Payroll, Finance & Governance Administration and Events.

Joanne joined the SWU staff in January 2016 after working in the care industry for 5 years in various roles including Human Resources, Training, Finance and Operations Management.

Joanne has a Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology, a Level 3 Award in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Sector (PTLLS) and a Level 3 Certificate in Human Resources Practice. Joanne has also recently achieved the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting – Level 2 and is currently studying for the AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting – Level 3.


In her spare time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, socialising with friends, reading and building Lego sets. Her favourite film quote is “Happiness Can Be Found Even in The Darkest Of Times, If One Only Remembers To Turn On The Light.”

Shawn Major, Communications, Policy, and Engagement Officer


Dr Shawn Major is a Canadian who now calls the UK her home. She earned her PhD in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University and has a background in content management, social media management, and marketing. Shawn joined the SWU staff in 2021 as the union’s first dedicated Communications, Policy, and Engagement Officer.

Shawn is glad to have found a role in which she can continue supporting social workers and the important work that they do. She has previously worked as a Content Manager for the UK branch of the Erasmus+ EPALE programme, and for the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation which is a Canadian non-profit supporting social workers in First Nations and Inuit communities.

She is passionate about social justice and her favourite quote is from Helen Todd’s 1910 speech demanding “bread for all, and roses too”. This call for dignity, respect, and quality of life – along with intersectionality – underpins her equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) ethos.

In her spare time Shawn enjoys knitting, baking, and all things science fiction.