Social Workers Without Borders withdraws from Social Work Awards and wins award for Championing Social Work Values.

Social Workers Without Borders withdrew their application to be considered for the Social Workers of the Year award 2018.

Whilst SWWB congratulated the other short listed groups and individuals, and are in favour of a ceremony to celebrate the brilliant of social workers across the UK, the sponsoring of the event by Capita has led to our decision to withdraw. SWWB applied for the award in order to acknowledge the incredible work done by our network of social work volunteers who have, since 2015, given their time to complete social work assessments for migrant and asylum seeking families across the UK and in Calais. This work is necessary due to the UK government’s draconian immigration policies that force families into isolation, separation, detention and destitution. Many of the families we work with bear the brunt of successive government policies that have sought to instrumentalise welfare (restriction) as a means of deterring migrants and creating an un-liveable situation in the UK for those with insecure immigration status.

Capita is a key player in the neo-liberalisation of the welfare state and with that the encroaching securitisation of public spaces and public services. Capita is instrumental in dismantling our public services and in creating a hostile environment for migrant and non-migrant individuals and families alike. SWWB cannot accept an award that is funded by an company whose ethics are antithetical to and violently undermine those of the social work profession. At the time of application we were not aware that the awards were sponsored by Capita (we believed they were sponsored by Sanctuary and had a discussion about this) and do not endorse the sponsoring of a social work awards ceremony by Capita.

Capita’s sponsoring of this event is particularly problematic for our organisation due to the violence inflicted by Capita on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

Capita has had several lucrative contracts with the Home Office to trace and administrate the removal of ‘overstayers’. Most recently Capita have been a major player in the attacks on the Windrush generation – threatening individuals who have resided in the UK since childhood with removal, sometimes via text message and with little explanation. Earlier this year it was revealed that Capita was offered a 2.5% bonus through its Home Office contract for hitting targets to remove individuals from the UK, this bonus rose to 12.5% if the target was exceeded by 10%. Capita profits on the racist targetting of individuals and families for removal from the UK. Capita’s contracts lead to the detention of individuals in detentions centres (a subsidiary of Capita – Tascor – runs several residential short term holding facilities and over 30 short term holding facilities used to detain, often for administrative purposes, and in error, immigration detainees) and flights being booked to return retirement aged individuals to countries that they have not visited since early childhood.

Capita’s treatment of asylum seekers in removal centres and on removal flights is of grave concern. In May this year a HMIP report concluded that Tascor (part of Capita) had used excessive restraint on asylum seeking individuals on a removal flight. Tascor staff outnumbered the detainees by more than three to one and used degrading language to intimidate and mock detainess. The risks of excessive restraint are incredibly high, and can be fatal, as was the case with the murder of Jimmy Mubenga by G4S staff in a similarly disproportionate use of force in 2010.

Capita profits on the racist and violent targetting of individuals and families for removal from the UK. This work, alongside Capita’s appalling behaviour in other areas of social care (such as the whistle-blowing report to Disability News Service that Capita offered bonuses to staff for cutting care packages in Southampton Council) is a threat to our professional values and ethics and to the individuals and families we work alongside. Capita’s work is an attack on social work as it is an attack on migrants across the UK.

We thank all of those who voted to put us forward for this award, and for our social work volunteers who work tirelessly outside of their 9-5 jobs to deliver our assessment, campaigning and education work. We call on the Social Work Awards to re-consider collusion with organisations such as Capita: social workers across the country are fighting the privatisation of services, funding cuts, the demonisation and marginalisation of the families we work - and therefore we fight the encroaching of Capita into our profession.

We dedicate our nomination to all those who fight the hostile environment on a daily basis, out of necessity or conviction.

In solidarity,

Social Workers Without Borders.

November 2018 update:

Despite withdrawing from the Award the judging panel at the Social Work Awards wanted the award for Championing Social Work Values to be awarded to SWWB. As Capita have withdrawn from the Award and we have been invited by SWOTY to attend the forthcoming Ethics panel for future sponsorship, we have accepted the award in recognition of those we support and the amazing work and dedication of all our volunteers.