Our vision, mission, aims and values

Our Vision:

Our vision is for the foundation of all social work practice, policy and education to be fundamentally rooted in an understanding of the significance of the relationships between people who use social work services and those that provide them.

Our mission:

Our mission is to provide of a wide range of opportunities for practitioners, managers, educators, academics and organisations to explore and deepen their understanding of relationship based social work, to enable it to be the core driver for practice.

Our aims:

  1. To provide a variety of accessible forums to enable the development of competence and creativity in relationship-based social work practice;
  2. To provide high quality educational resources that explore, explain and enable the implementation of relationship based social work practice;
  3. To promote and encourage practice based scholarship and publication;
  4. To link to and work with other organisations who are aligned with relationship based social work;
  5. To support the development of a new generation of RBP trained and experienced practitioners, educators and researchers;
  6. To advocate for relationship based social work in appropriate policy forums and by questioning and critiquing those trends that work for and against it, and by mobilising our members to do the same.

Our Values:

There are many ways to understand ‘values’, so to clarify, we draw on Sarah Banks who says

“The term social work values refers to a range of beliefs about what is regarded as worthy or valuable in a social work context – general beliefs about the nature of the good society, general principles about how to achieve this through actions, and the desirable qualities or character traits of professional practitioners.” (Banks, 20121)

At CfSWP, relationship based social work practice is rooted in the core values of:

  • Respect for the equality, humanity, dignity, and rights of all those who use and work in or with social work services;
  • Empowerment of those who need and use social work services;
  • Empathy, understanding and a non-judgmental attitude in working with those who face serious challenges in their lives and circumstances.

These values form the roots of relationship based social work, from which other important but perhaps less tangible, values, behaviours, principles and ethics (such as collaboration, reflection, creativity, integrity) can inform and shape practice. CfSWP also recognises that without good methodologies for engaging and working with people, a commitment to value positions may be empty. Equally, without a strong value base, good practice methodologies may be blind to the complexities and impact of power differentials in the lives of service users and professionals. Values, theories and methodologies must work together for effective social work practice to thrive.

The greater our numbers, the stronger our voice – JOIN US!

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1 Banks, S (2012) Ethics and Values in Social Work, 4th edition, London, Palgrave

What We Do and How We Work

CfSWP supports understanding and practice in relationship based social work through:

  • Offering learning and reflection events to attend across the country;
  • Supporting organisations establish and develop strong foundations for relationship based reflective practice across services;
  • Engaging with national professional, policy and political debates and processes affecting relationship based practice;
  • Sharing and exchanging resources, expertise and learning opportunities on our website.

We are a small team of part time workers and volunteers who work collaboratively with universities, local authorities, organisations and interested individuals. Our networking and events lead, Suzie Stephens, enthusiastically collaborates with our volunteer regional co-ordinators and our speakers to organise events and to grow our community. Our office manager, Lian Vanstone, supports all our activities by providing the vital organisational and administrative functions.

We recognise that the contexts for relationship based social work practice, strongly influenced by decreasing funds and increasing need, are ever changing and challenging. In these contexts, the importance of relationship based practice can be lost in a focus on compliance with processes, so we wish to create an oasis, away from the challenging practice melee, where relationship based practice is placed front and centre and can be openly explored.

We will be launching the free social work university on our website to offer a wider variety of ways for people to engage with how we can keep a focus on understanding, working in and reflecting on relationships, on building and strengthening supportive relationships in a client’s network, and on developing the kinds of professional environments where relationship based reflective practice can grow and thrive.

While our focus is on social work, we welcome and encourage all those interested in or allied to social work to get involved, such as service users, therapists, social pedagogues, foster carers, care workers, older people professionals, teachers, mental health professionals, drug and alcohol workers, probation, youth justice etc.

Our collaborative network

We are keen to create opportunities for people and disciplines to come together in dialogue to promote ever growing understanding and to address the systemic and practice issues that act as barriers to relationship based practice.

We are working with the following institutions and organisations and wish to grow our community, so please get in touch if your organisation is not listed here:

  • All Together In Dignity
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Brighton And Hove City Council
  • British Association Of Social Workers (BASW)
  • Children England
  • Coram BAAF
  • Group For The Advancement Of Psychodynamics And Psychotherapy In Social Work (GAPS)
  • International Centre For Therapeutic Residential And Foster Care
  • Legal Action For Women
  • Northern School Of Child And Adolescent Psychotherapy
  • Shaping Our Lives
  • Social Care Institute Of Excellence (SCIE)
  • Social Work History Network
  • Social Pedagogy Development Network
  • Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Of Suffolk
  • University Of Bath
  • University Of Dundee
  • University Of East Anglia
  • University Of East London
  • University Of Edinburgh
  • University Of Essex
  • University Of Nottingham
  • University Of Sheffield
  • University Of Stirling
  • University Of Sussex
  • University Of The West Of England