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Fri 08 Mar

FULLY BOOKED 'From Counselling to Collective Action; Reclaiming the Social Work Space’ SWID Conference 2019

9.30 Registration, 10.00 - 4.30 Workshop

Wynn's Hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin

€30 IASW members/€70 non-members

From Counselling to Collective Action; Reclaiming the Social Work Space’

IASW Social Workers in Disability SIG Annual Conference 2019



9.30-10.15      Registration and tea/coffee 

10.15-10.30    Opening by Chair 

10.30-11.30    ‘Counselling Skills in everyday Social Work Practice’    

                          Hilda Loughran             

 11.30-11.45    Tea/coffee and biscuit break 

 ‘Personal Perspectives of Advocating for Services’ 

  11.45-12.30     Rachel Cassen, Leap 

 12.30-1.30pm  Lunch - provided

 1.30-2.15pm    Agnes Lunny, Positive Futures

 ‘Reclaiming the Social Work Space’

 2.15-3.45pm    Guy Shennan    Keynote Speaker

 3.45-4.00PM    Conference Close   SWID Chair

Guy will talk about his experiences as Chair of BASW focussing in on how social workers can use our approach and skills of systemic analysis to shift the focus of some interventions from the individual, family & diagnostic to the collective. How can we build coalitions of interest with service users/service user groups to work alongside each other in promoting social change and development? How can we better shift from individualising responsibility for structural inequalities? This is an opportunity for us to refocus on the principles underpinning social work, what makes social work unique and distinct from other professions – what are the things that only social workers can do? How can we renew and reinvigorate our social work to make a difference?!

Key Note Speaker Guy Shennan

‘Guy trained as a social worker at Sheffield University in the late 1980s. His experience includes work in mental health settings with young people and adults, and work with children and families in both statutory and voluntary sectors. Guy trained in solution-focused practice in 1995, and pioneered the use of this approach in statutory children’s social work, and was responsible for the initial introduction of the Signs of Safety model into the UK. He is now an independent practitioner, consultant and trainer, specialising in the solution-focused approach. His book, Solution-Focused Practice, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. Guy was the Chair of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) from 2014 to 2018. Having helped to develop the Social Workers and Service Users Against Austerity alliance, Guy led BASW’s Boot Out Austerity walk from Birmingham to Liverpool in 2017. In 2018 he co-founded the Solution-Focused Collective, who are drafting a manifesto for solution-focused practice for social change.

Hilda Loughran is an Associate Professor in Social Work/Social Policy at University College Dublin. Before becoming a full-time academic she worked as a social worker in housing, a social work addiction counsellor and a relationship counsellor. During her career she has maintained her counselling social work practice through voluntary work, mostly working with service users in the substance use field. She teaches Motivational Interviewing, Solution-Focused Work and Group work to Masters in Social Work students and is involved in participatory research with service users enhancing social work education. Hilda 's book 'Counselling Skills for Social Workers' released in 2019 is an excellent tool for Social Workers.

Agnes Lunny from 'Positive Futures'



Agnes Lunny is one of the leading voices for people with a learning/intellectual disability on the island of Ireland.

She is Chief Executive of Positive Futures in Northern Ireland, which she founded in 1995, and Positive Futures in the Republic of Ireland (established 2015). The twin organisations support people with a learning/intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or autistic spectrum condition.

Agnes appears regularly on radio and TV speaking up for the rights of those with a disability, their families and carers. She gave expert testimony to the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (Northern Ireland).

Before establishing Positive Futures, she had a career in social work and spent five years working in juvenile justice.

Under her leadership, Positive Futures has had a track record of introducing and developing pioneering, person-centred services, often with remarkable results.

Positive Futures provides a range of services including:

For further information, visit and

Rachel Cassen from 'Leap Ireland'

Leap is a family-led, non-profit organisation that works on behalf of children and adults with disabilities and their families. We work with families, their supporters and allies, people with disabilities, service providers and others. We focus our efforts on increasing expectations of what is possible in the lives of people with disabilities. We assist people and families to take action towards what matters to them towards the goal of a good life, an ordinary life.