IFSW European Conference: “This event has nourished my social work soul”
UK social workers attending the IFSW European Conference in Prague praise the connections they have made and the knowledge they have gained.
The IFSW European Conference in Prague closes today as social workers from the UK, Europe and beyond celebrate international social work.
The conference, with its theme ‘A Social Europe is Possible Where No One is Left Behind’, saw more than 500 social workers, academics and related professionals attend with sessions available both online and in-person.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) funded 21 members to attend the event through its International Development Fund, with applicants required to submit 300 words detailing why they want to attend the conference, what they hope to gain from attending and what they hope to do with the experience.
Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive Officer at BASW (a member organisation of IFSW), hailed social work as a global profession.
“Working day to day as a social worker in the UK it can be hard to find the time to reach out to our rich global community and to find out what is happening and to get involved in international social work.
“BASW represents UK social work in the International Federation of Social Workers to help make these links and we are very involved in IFSW at European and global level on behalf of the UK.
“I am delighted that we have funded 21 of our members to attend the May 2023 IFSW Europe conference in Prague. It's been fantastic to offer this opportunity and meet members here. They have told me it's been an inspiring and thought-provoking international learning opportunity - new friendships made, new social work ideas shared - and the chance to be part of exploring shared global social work ethics and values.
“We will continue to connect UK social workers with international opportunities and play our part in building social work across the world.”
Successful applicants included social worker Dawn who said that attending had been “an amazing experience both professionally and personally”.
“It’s been a fantastic space to learn, collaborate and be curious about myself and social work practice,” Dawn said, adding: “It’s been a space to think about how we can create positive change in social work individually, locally, across communities and globally.”
Rebecca, a UK social worker, praised the opportunity to meet social workers from all over the world and find out how social work operates in other countries and cultures.
“I've found it particularly interesting to hear people talk about their experiences of social work in conflict zones and to be reminded about how as a profession we have a responsibility to be advocating for human rights and social justice not only in our own local contexts but across the globe.”
The conference began on Sunday with opening addresses from Ana Radalescu and Joachim Cuthbert Mumba, IFSW Europe President and IFSW Global President, respectively.
The theme of ‘Ubuntu’ – an African philosophy, often expressed as ‘I am because we are’ – ran throughout the conference, including sessions from Joachim, alongside former Global President Ruth Stark covering ‘learning from the Ubuntu practitioner’. A number of social workers attending the event praised the ability to network with their ‘Ubuntu colleagues’.
“I am really enjoying connecting with social workers from Europe and the UK, hearing about their work and nourishing my social work soul,” Frances, a recently retired AMHP said.
David Grimm, who co-presented a session on ‘leaderful communities’ said the conference had been “an incredible opportunity to meet people of similar values and hopes for the world.”
“It has been wonderful to meet and learn more about the team from IFSW and I am incredibly appreciative for the opportunity to present alongside the tremendous team of Ruth Stark and Kellie Doubtfire [Publisher, Social Work Today]”.
Kirsty, also attending the event, praised the ability to learn about different research projects and the opportunity to discuss with the researchers themselves: “It's given me a new level of enthusiasm to take action beyond my social work role in my day job.”
Jade, a final year social work student supported to attend by funding from BASW, said the opportunity to attend the IFSW conference has provided “rich and varied learning opportunities both on a local and an international level”.
“I have had opportunities to connect and learn with social work students and professionals from across the globe and it’s provided international reflective spaces that I would not of otherwise had the opportunity for. It is a huge privilege to have been supported to attend this and I would highly recommend to others.”
Find out more about the conference: https://ifsw2023.org/
£38,223 to £40,221
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