On Tuesday, 21st March 2023, Swansea University joined the international community to celebrate World Social Work Day.
This celebration took place in the university campus and in the presence of students and staff of the department of Social Work. Beth from Lleisiau Profiadol and colleagues from the Social Work Department welcomed the participants and opened the floor for social and academic discourse.
Some short films shared by the Swansea City of Sanctuary on Kurdish refugees were played to expose the challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees. Mention was made of Imam Sis, a Kurdish man who went on hunger strike for more than 160 days. Wahida, in a brief speech, acknowledged the beginning of Ramadan and the need for sensitivity, especially in the workplace, towards the Muslim faithful to respect this period of fasting and prayers. Ellie, an MSc Social Work student shared her experience as a social worker in a refugee camp in Calais; the charitable and humanitarian works of volunteer organisations in Calais and Dunkirk and the horrendous humanitarian situation in Calais, France.
Dr. Martha Ako spoke of her journey as an asylum seeker, the challenges faced by asylum seekers in Swansea and the UK as a whole. As someone with lived experience, she highlighted the need for the establishments in control to make life easier for the asylum seekers who see Swansea as their second home. Mention was made of free bus fares, jobs and better living conditions for asylum seekers. She distanced herself and other asylum seekers from the allegations of the government that asylum seekers are responsible for the rising cost of living. She added that more than 80 percent of the food prepared for asylum seekers in government hostels end up in dust bins because they are not edible. She requested that a team could be put in place to verify this.
Alison spoke on social work and activism; gave some examples of social work activism in action. She also talked of the Student Bursary Campaign of 2020 to 2022; BASW support, pledges, Senedd petitions, letters, meetings and campaigns. On the walls of the hall were posters placed promoting Refugee Action, Lift The Ban Campaign etc.
The meeting ended at 1pm with many thoughts about what could be done in future.
Dr. Martha Ako