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Social Work student wins national essay prize

20 July 2018

Female student writing essay

Rachel Hopkins, a first year MA Social Work student at the School of Social Sciences, has won a national essay prize from the Social Workers Union.

Rachel was chosen as one of four winners of the Social Workers Union World Social Work Day Essay Assignment Competition. The competition invited social work students to submit an essay on ‘How social workers can solve austerity’, awarding the four winning entries a prize of £500.

Speaking of her win and her passion for social work, Rachel said, “Already in my practice as a student social worker, I have observed many very vulnerable people enduring hardship largely as a result of austerity policies. I believe that social workers have a duty to speak out against inequality, and I was pleased to have an opportunity to do this through the assignment competition.

“I'm absolutely delighted to be among the winners, and I am eager to continue challenging austerity throughout my future practice.”

In her essay, Rachel wrote “Social workers cannot be passive in times of austerity. We must use our powers responsibly and sensitively to treat the line between tackling structural unfairness, while empowering the personal agency of the service users with whom we work.”

Abyd Quinn Aziz, Programme Director of the MA in Social Work, said of Rachel’s achievement, Llongyfarchiadau and I’m very pleased for Rachel.  I particularly liked Rachel’s view that social work must vocalise concerns about the detrimental effects of austerity, use practice creatively to mitigate its effects as much as we can and to embrace radical social work and campaign against austerity.”

John McGowan, general secretary of the Social Workers Union said, “I am delighted in the interest shown in this assignment and the ‘Austerity’ topic appears to have stimulated student social workers in submitting entries in a very high number.”

Guy Shennan, former chair of The British Association of Social Workers, and judge of the competition said, “The quality of the entries to this competition was uniformly high and some were outstanding.

“This was a great testament both to the calibre of students entering the profession and to the importance that our future social workers are attaching to combating austerity. Marking these essays was an absolute pleasure.”

Rachel’s essay on ‘How social workers can solve austerity’ can be read online here.