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Timeline :: British Association of Social Workers (BASW) formed

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As different fields of social work developed professional associations representing their interests had also come into being.  By the early 1960s there were eight professional associations operating in the UK, reflecting the different strands of social work.  

These were the:

* Association of Family Case Workers

* Moral Welfare Workers' Association

* Society of Mental Welfare Officers

* Association of Psychiatric Social Workers

* Institue of Medical Social Workers

* Association of Child Care Officers

* Association of Social Workers

* National Association of Probation Officers

There was a growing awareness of social work issues during the 1960s and the Seebohm Committee had been established in 1965 to look at how social work services could be provided in a more effective and holistic way.  The Committee reported back in 1968 recommending that generic Social Service Departments be established to act as a 'one stop shop' for clients.

There was also a sense at this time that the professional associations should come together to provide one united Association.  Discussions began in 1963 and were overseen by the Standing Conference of Organisations of Social Workers (SCOSW) chaired by Kay McDougall.  Negotiations could often be difficult as the separate associations sought to protect their own ethos and approaches, while at the same time acknowledging a willingness to explore their shared values.  

Ultimately seven of the eight associations did join together to become BASW in 1970 (Enid Warren, an almoner, was the first chairperson).  Only the National Association of Probation Officers did not (although they had participated throughout the discussions).  They felt that by joining BASW they would leave themselves in a vulnerable position and, in time, could be merged into social work departments (as had happened to Probation Officers in Scotland following under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968) and therefore decided to maintain their seperate identity.  

Source:  Mark Ivory, 'The Birth of BASW', in Professional Social Work, June 2010

Further information: Social Work History Network papers on the Unification of Social Work Services and of Organisations of Social Workers, 1963-1971.