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Marching 100 miles to boot out austerity

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Boot out Austirty! BASW, march, Birmingham to Liverpool, setting off 19 AprilSocial workers are walking from Birmingham to Liverpool for social justice.

On 19 April, a group of social workers and supporters will set off from Birmingham on a seven-day walk of nearly 100 miles to Liverpool, to arrive the day before the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) hold their 2017 Annual General Meeting and Conference there – and they want you to get involved.

Drawing inspiration from the Jarrow marchers of 1936, and more recently the People’s March for the NHS in 2014 and a group of psychologists who Walked the Talk in 2015, the aim of the walkers will be to highlight the devastating impact of nine years of austerity.

They will be calling for an end to these policies of cuts and welfare reform, which are causing misery and hardship for so many, to be replaced by the investment that’s needed for a more socially just and caring society.

They are inviting others to join them along the way: people who use and need social care and social work services as well as social workers, other professionals and concerned citizens – to walk side by side.

They will visit food banks and social care provision under threat, and to hear accounts of how austerity has impacted on people’s lives.

They also want to celebrate good practice in the face of austerity along the way.

And they will be calling for an end to policies of cuts and welfare reform, which are causing misery and hardship for so many, to be replaced by the investment that’s needed for a more socially just and caring society.

The idea for the walk came to Guy Shennan, BASW’s Chair, late last year.

“Every day, social workers see the devastating impact of austerity in the lives of people they work with, yet this is not always so visible to the wider public,” he explained.

“We want to draw attention to these effects of the austerity measures of the past seven years, as we believe that a growing awareness will lead to demands that these unnecessary measures are brought to an end.

“One of our inspirations was Ken Loach’s film, ‘I, Daniel Blake’, which showed the human costs of austerity through the medium of story-telling. We will be meeting people all along our route from Birmingham to Liverpool and want to hear and publicise as many stories as possible.”

The walkers have been receiving messages of support from social workers all over the country, who have also made clear that austerity’s effects have been felt across the full range of services, for disabled people, in mental health care, learning disability services, by older people and others in desperate need of adult social care, for children’s mental health and other children’s services as well as in health and education.

Benefit cuts, food poverty, homelessness and inequality are mentioned by many.

If you are on their route, and want them to meet you, let them know.

Click here to join the walk

Click here to watch ‘The Boot Out Austerity Blues’

The march will be setting off from the new head office of the British Association of Social Workers in Birmingham.

On the first evening, on 19 April, they will be in Wolverhampton, then in Stafford on 20 April, Stoke on 21 April, arriving in Sandbach on 22 April, in Northwich on 23 April, Runcorn on 24 April, before the final entry into Liverpool on 25 April where they will finish on the iconic Liverpool Waterfront at the Pier Head.

If you want to join in, encourage those walking, offer to host an event en route, highlight a service, offer accommodation or simply announce your support please take a few moments to complete this questionnaire:

This march is just one part of a wider social work ambition to transform our society for the better.

And on this march professionals and the people who use social services will share one essential message: build social services around the real needs and aspirations of the communities they serve, and don’t refuse assistance to those who are desperate.

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