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Glasgow Educational Conference


The Joint University Social Work Education Conference (JSWEC) is the main academic social work conference in the UK.This year, it took place in Glasgow on the 15th and 16th of June (2023). Three Brunel MSc social work students, Caroline Njora, Sherica Harper and Vishal Udaya Kumar, our recent MSc graduate, Natalia Phillips, and our current doctoral student, Priya David, joined by Dr Yohai Hakak, attended the conference and presented their work receiving excellent feedback. Sherica Harper presented a poster about her dissertation research titled ‘Reflections on the Windrush Scandal: the experiences of Jamaicans living with Windrush lineage’.

Reflecting on her experience, Sherica said, “I enjoyed the conference. It was wonderful to be amongst professionals and other students who openly shared their experiences. The conference provided a supportive environment where sensitive topics such as race, power, different understandings of the law and how these might influence one’s practice were discussed. I received positive and thought-provoking feedback about my poster and research work which I plan to incorporate into my work. I want to thank Brunel’s social work programme for supporting my peers and me in attending the conference, and I am so humbled to have experienced it. Finishing placement and getting closer to being qualified made this break and the network opportunities it afforded me even more priceless and I recommend it to every student! PhD was not on the cards before, but I have left Glasgow feeling motivated and optimistic about the future and I am liking the sound of Dr. Harper! And, by the way, when is the next conference?”.

Caroline Njora presented her research on the mental health of individuals caring for family members with cancer in the UK. Caroline chose the topic after working at the Royal Marsden Hospital NHS (a cancer specialist hospital in London) as a Personal Assistant to Consultant Surgeons. Being the first point of contact for the patients and their carers enabled her to learn about the challenges they face. It also got her questioning who looks after the carers’ well-being given the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis as they try to balance their lives while caring for their loved ones.  “After 5 years in the role, I felt I wanted to do more to champion the less fortunate in society”, she said. Caroline then applied for the MSc in social work at Brunel University. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made”.

Reflecting on the lecture she delivered at the conference, Caroline commented, “I was nervous at the beginning but once I started, I was able to deliver as expected. I enjoyed every bit of it and everyone was so receptive, positive and encouraging. Being around accomplished social workers, and, especially those of ethnic minority origin, made me feel very proud and encouraged. The whole experience felt like being ‘at home’ around other social workers. Thanks to JSWEC and Brunel social work for the opportunity. These were three days well spent that gave me a better understanding of the different routes one can take as a social worker, given there were quite a few black ethnic academics who encouraged me to continue what I am doing and maintain the drive and zeal to become the best social worker one can be”. A special bonus for Caroline was having the cartoonist, Harry Venning attend her lecture and share his impressions through drawing.

Vishal Udaya Kumar presented a poster about his dissertation titled, ‘Exploring social work association of migrating social workers and their impact on social work practice’. It is one of the new areas of enquiry related to the professional mobilisation of social workers in the UK on the basis of their socio-cultural identity. The research explores factors contributing to the formation and membership of these associations, roles these respective organisations played during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, the perception of equality, diversity and inclusion of the members, and how these groups facilitate grievance redressals as well as professional development. As a mixed-method study, it tries to quantify some aspects of these organisations as well as capture in-depth perceptions of the members and governing bodies of these associations.

It is an ongoing study and the Joint Social Work Education Conference at Glasgow provided a great opportunity to receive feedback on the work. “Attending the conference was a significant personal achievement which will contribute to the overall outcome of my study. It was fascinating to listen to the feedback from practising social workers and academics. These discussions and the excitement expressed by experienced experts about my topic provided me with confidence and clarity of thought. A senior social worker who is part of one of the associations based on ethnic background shared her view that ‘the research is explicitly recognising the efforts and identity of these groups who passionately support the minoritized social workers in the UK’. Following the conference, I feel more confident about the research process and believe it will eventually lead to an excellent outcome”.