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Dr David N Jones awarded honorary degree by University of London

Social worker Dr David N Jones, former General Secretary of the British Association of Social Workers, is one of five highly esteemed individuals to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of London at its annual Foundation Day celebration.

23/11/23

Dr David N Jones awarded honorary degree by University of London

Social worker Dr David N Jones has been awarded an honorary degree by University of London for his outstanding contributions to the sector.

A social worker, recognised in the profession worldwide as an effective spokesperson and advocate, David specialised in child protection before taking on a range of high-profile national and international roles, including General Secretary of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) from 1985-94, President of the International Federation of Social Workers from 2006-10, and founding Board member of the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work from 1994 until the present, as well as numerous professional roles in government departments, Audit Commission and Ofsted.

During his tenure as President of IFSW, David played a key part in launching World Social Work Day, now a globally celebrated event, as well as coordinating the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.

Dr Jones is currently Governor, Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust and serves on many committees, including Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB). He steered consultations on the Commonwealth Charter for Young Carers and has contributed to many landmark sector publications, including editing the first UK multi-professional textbook on child protection in 1982.

Dr Jones expressed his gratitude to the University of London for the “unexpected honour”, as well as thanking his wife Rachel, his family and the professional associations (especially BASW, IFSW, COSW, IASSW) for their support.

“My life and social work have been guided by a commitment to social justice, social service and respect for all, inspired by family example and Christian and humanitarian values. Social work faces up to the often-brutal realities as well as the joys of human relationships and cannot avoid difficult choices,” Dr Jones said.

“Those choices must be informed by high quality education and training, alongside other professions, and guided by robust research involving those who are most affected. I have been privileged to engage with social workers and others in local communities and around the world and with people of differing faiths and none, all sharing the same commitment. I thank them for the friendship I have experienced and all that I have learnt from them.

“There is too much hatred and too little understanding expressed in the world today, sometimes from the highest offices and from those who should know better. As people cohabiting an over-heating and crowded planet, we must keep searching for mutual understanding and respect for peoples and the environment. That is the hard graft of social work (to which I have made a contribution recognised today) which deserves support and respect.”

The honorary doctorate was awarded at a ceremony, held last night on 22 November, commemorating the establishment of the University of London in 1836.

The University of London was among the first in the world to support social work education and training. Probably the first ‘social work’ course in the UK was started in London in the 1890s and taken over by the London School of Economics in 1912. Former Prime Minister Clement Atlee was a tutor on the course from the start and published his book ‘The Social Worker’ in 1920.

Dr Jones added: “It is perhaps appropriate that a social worker is honoured in this way by the University of London which was among the first in the world to support social work education and training. Goldsmiths College and Royal Holloway College offer well regarded social work courses but sadly, the LSE social work course (attended by my mother) closed in the 1990s.”

Commenting on the award, IFSW President, Joachim Mumba said the recognition is a “testament to the vital role of social work in society.”

“[Dr Jones’s] career embodied the dedication and impact that social workers can have. This honour underscored the importance of social work as an academic discipline and as a crucial field of practice, empowering communities worldwide to co-build transformational change and sustainable future. This is not just a personal achievement but a significant acknowledgment of social work as a profession.

“In many countries, social work is still striving for recognition as an academic discipline. This honorary degree symbolises the resilience and importance of our profession and its crucial role in fostering social justice and support for vulnerable populations."

In June this year, Dr Jones received a Lifetime Achievement to Social Work Award at the BASW Annual General Meeting.

Julia Ross, BASW Chair, said that David is “a legend both nationally and internationally and we are honoured by his dedication to professional social work over many years.”

Annamaria Campanini, IASSW President, added: “[David’s] life serves as an exemplar, highlighting the impactful potential and actions that social workers can undertake to effectuate meaningful change in the world."

Dr David N Jones is one of five esteemed colleagues to be recognised at the University of London’s Foundation Day ceremony, joining Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Professor Paul Layzell, Simon Reeve, and Claudia Roden CBE.

Foundation Day is an annual celebration of the University of London’s first royal charter, awarded by King William IV in 1836, and an occasion to confer honorary degrees to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to all spheres of life. The first honorary degrees were presented in June 1903.

University of London Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Thomson CBE said: “Foundation Day is a very special date in our calendar when we gather to celebrate the establishment of the University of London and remember the achievements of all those people who, since 1836, have worked so hard to make this a world class institution.

“We also use the occasion to honour those who make valuable contributions to society, and today’s honorary award winners join illustrious names including Sir Winston Churchill, Dame Judi Dench, T.S. Eliot, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Henry Moore. I’m pleased to congratulate David on his great achievement.”

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