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Virtual event to mark World Social Work Day 2021

Posted on 23 April 2021

Solidarity and global connectedness shone through at an event hosted by the Yorkshire Urban and Rural Teaching Partnership for professional social workers and students.

Each year social workers across the world stand together to mark World Social Work Day and focus on a ‘Global Social Work Agenda’. Despite the global pandemic, this year was no exception social workers from around the globe celebrated ‘Ubuntu: I am because we are’, a concept and philosophy that aligns with the ethics of social work itself.

“Ubuntu is a powerful message on the need for solidarity at all levels: within communities, societies and globally. It is a message that all people are interconnected and that our future is dependent on recognising all peoples involvement in co-building a sustainable, fair and socially just future.” The International Federation of Social Workers

Over 200 delegates from across the teaching partnership attended the virtual event which also focused on wellbeing and resilience and is the only annual event of its type in the area. The event is planned and delivered by the teaching partnerships ‘Placements Workstream’ group, consisting of Practice Educator Consultants and Teaching & Learning Leads from each local authority, along with representatives of the universities of Huddersfield and York.

Dr Polly Sykes, Lecturer in Social Work

Co-hosting the event, Leeanne Olivant (University of Huddersfield) and Polly Sykes (University of York) introduced a variety of well received speakers. The event commenced with a keynote speech on ‘Practice Educator Wellbeing’ by Kate Collier from Selfcare Psychology. Kate is the co-author of the online ‘Covid-19 Pandemic Frontline Keyworker Self Care Acts’ as a free resource to support practitioners, and during her talk shared her expertise on self-care.

Social resilience and social work practice were the focus of the event’s next talk delivered by the University of Hudderfield’s Dr Tom Considine. He discussed how resilience has emerged as the modern solution to the current challenges affecting the world and referred to his research with student social work practitioners and practice educators that promotes a social model of resilience.

Professor Martin Webber, of the University of York, then introduced the concept of ‘Ubuntu’ and it’s relevance to community-oriented social work, shared decision-making and equality.

This year saw the event celebrate the first ‘Practice Educator of the Year Awards’. This was a particularly poignant moment for the Teaching Partnership as the inaugural award was dedicated to Mr Martin Hunt who had worked within Kirklees for many years championing students on placements and Practice Educators but who had sadly passed away last year.

The Teaching Partnership received a large number of ‘Practice Educator of the Year’ nominations from students across the region, each keen to put their practice educator forward for the award. Martin Kelly (Assistant Director) and Samantha Clayton (Head of Effective Practice) of North Yorkshire County Council presented the awards to five very deserving practice educators.

The award for North Yorkshires ‘Practice Educator of the Year’ went to Emma Rimmington. Emma’s student, Nadine Miller, commented on Emma’s passion for supporting students, adding that ‘not only is Emma an excellent Practice Educator, she is an amazing social worker. She is someone who goes above and beyond and really does show passion and compassion in her work’.

For Calderdale Council, student Michelle Ngwenya nominated the winning Practice Educator, Karina Aspinell. Michelle commended Karina for her encouragement and her constructive feedback, saying that she had felt empowered to become a better student social worker as a result of Karina’s input.

Brian Griffiths was given the award on behalf of City of York Council. His student, Anna Boddy, noted that ‘On top of being my practice educator he is currently working as an AMHP and despite the demanding role, always makes time to answer my questions and ensure that my placement is enjoyable and purposeful.’

Salma Yusoof received the award for Kirklees Council. Her student, Toni Power, said that Salma has been ‘100 per cent committed to me as her student since the start of my placement…showing me support when it is needed and pushing me to be a better version of myself’.

Finally, for the independent sector, Vikki Garside of ‘Orange Grove Fostering’ was successfully nominated by her student, Irene Cartwright. Irene notes that Vikki made her feel welcomed, and asks questions that prompt her to make her own links and connections into social work practice.

Overall, the day was a great success. It was wonderful to take some time out of our busy workloads to explore the themes of Ubuntu and to share ideas and strategies for resilience, and to acknowledge and appreciate our hard working practice educators.