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Take the Lead: Influencing and Advocating for Change

  • Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street
  • 9.30 - 4.00
  • 24 Sep 2014

Price €25/ £19.75 members, students and unemployed, €40/£32 non-members includes lunch & refreshments

Book Now! - All Ireland conference co-hosted by the IASW and the NIASW




BASWA and sterling invoice bookings can be made by contacting

The IASW have awarded 3.5 CPD points to this event. 

We are delighted to announce programme details for our forthcoming all-Ireland social work conference. 


Take the Lead: Influencing and Advocating for Change

  9.30 - 10.00    Registration – tea & coffee

10.00 - 10.10    Welcome Dónal O’Malley (Chair IASW)

10.10 - 10.50   Professional Assertiveness Neil Thompson

10.50 - 11.30    Social Workers as Advocates for Social Justice 

Brid Featherstone

11.30 - 11.50    tea & coffee

11.50 - 12.30    'Deserving Justice': Change, Advocacy and Offenders 

  Vivian Geiran

12.30 - 1.00      Q&A

 1.00 - 2.00       Lunch

 2.00 - 3.15       Workshops


  • Advocating for social work (Neil Thompson)
  • Resilience Builders in Child Protection Social Work.  Findings from Northern Ireland and Beyond. (Paula McFadden)
  • International Messages on Service User and Carer Involvement – findings from Slovenia, Spain and Northern Ireland  (Joe Duffy)
  • Decision-making – are we led or driven? (Anne O’Loughlin)
  • Change through Participation & Partnership (Réidín Dunne, EPIC 

& Anette Lombard, Tusla)


3.15 – 4    Discussion

4.00          Close

The conference will be chaired by Sylda Langford


A reduced delegate rate of €129 for B&B is available from the Ashling hotel on bookings made before the 29th August. When booking, just give the conference title. Hotel residents can avail of a daily parking rate of €8. 

Visit to view the hotel website

Hotel parking is available for those attending the conference at a maximum rate of €12 per day.


Speaker Biographies

Dr Joe Duffy, Lecturer in Social Work, Queen’s University, Belfast is committed to achieving the genuine, meaningful and non-tokenistic involvement of service users and carers in social work education. At Queen’s,  he coordinates the Service User and Carer Group which contributes to teaching across all aspects of the social work curriculum in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work.

The themes of citizenship, user involvement and social inclusion inform much of Joe’s research activity and underpinned his recently completed PhD. Joe has developed good practice guidance in the involvement of service users and carers for both undergraduate and post-qualifying social work education in Northern Ireland and has developed a specialist course to support service users and carers in their role as social work educators.

Committed to transformative and progressive pedagogy, Joe is particularly interested in the contribution that service users and carers can make to help inform social work students about the impact of political conflict. He has published papers in this area, presented at international conferences and worked with an international team of academics on an International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) funded project aimed at developing an international social work curriculum on political conflict. A further innovative aspect of Joe’s approach to teaching has been the partnerships he has forged with service user and carer groups, contributing as communities of learning, in teaching threshold concepts to social work students. This approach has also been used in an international context.

In 2013, Joe led an international team of academics from Slovenia and Spain in the production of a short IASSW-funded DVD entitled ‘International messages on service user and carer involvement’, which examines service user and carer perspectives on key aspects of social work knowledge, skills and values. In June, 2014, Joe was delighted to be awarded with a UK Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of the innovative work he leads in service user and carer involvement in the social work curriculum.


Reidin Dunne is National Advocacy Service Manager for EPIC. She has a vast amount of experience working with children and young people. Prior to this she worked as Project Manager for Barnardos Children’s Services in Wexford.  She has worked in education, residential care, youth justice and youth work.   


Brid Featherstone is Professor of Social Work at the Open University. She  has worked as a social worker in the areas of juvenile justice and generic social worker. She has researched and written on the topics of gender, fathers, family support and child protection. She has a particular interest in exploring the perspectives of parents about child protection systems.  Her books include Contemporary Fathering and Re-Imagining Child Protection: towards humane social work with families (with Sue White and Kate Morris).


Vivian Geiran, Director of the Probation Service, is a Registered Social Worker, has a Bachelor of Social Science degree and masters degrees in social studies (TCD) and social work (UCD), as well as a diploma in leadership and management.  He joined the Probation Service, as a Probation Officer, in 1987 and filled a variety of roles at different levels, up to his appointment as Director in August 2012.


Sylda Langford is Chairperson of the Citizens Information Board and is an Adjunct Professor in University College Dublin’s College of Human Sciences.  She is a member of the Board of Tusla – the Child and Family Agency  and  of the Board of  Oberstown Children’s Detention Centre.  She is a member of Departmental Committees dealing with homelessness, school patronage, local development and audit and risk.  She is the former Director General of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform for nine years. She has worked in the Department of Social Welfare, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Eastern Health Board and the National Social Service Council. She has extensive experience in policy and legislative work across a broad range of government areas. She has a professional background in social policy and social work and is a graduate of University College Cork and the London School of Economics.


Annette Lombard is a Social Worker in West Cork. She has worked extensively with children in care prior to her work with the Children in care team. She has worked in Romania with children living in institutions and worked with children in Russia through the charity from Russia with Love, she has been involved in the development of education and aftercare programmes both in Ireland and overseas.


Dr Paula McFadden is currently a member of staff at Queens University Belfast. Prior to working at QUB Paula had worked in adult services at the front line, as well as in a management role; she has worked in child protection and in residential childrens services.  Paula has a strong research interest in workforce resilience and her doctoral research has examined resilience and burnout factors in front line child protection social work.  Dr McFadden has also carried out an international systematic literature review on this subject and can make links between findings from Northern Ireland and discuss these in a global context. 


Anne O’Loughlin is Principal Social Worker at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin. She completed her Social Work Training at University College Dublin and has over 30 years experience in a variety of Social Work settings both in Ireland and abroad. She has worked for 18 years in Paediatric and Adult Acquired Brain Injury services in both acute and rehabilitation settings. Anne was a member of the Government committee which developed the National Neuro Rehabilitation Strategy and has been involved in the Brain Injury Advocacy Association for many years. Anne lectures part-time on the Masters in Social Work Programme at UCD.


Dr Neil Thompson is an independent writer, educator and adviser, with over 36 years’ experience in the people professions. He has held full or honorary professorships at four UK universities and has over 200 publications to his name, including 33 books, many of which are bestsellers. He has also been involved in developing a range of multimedia learning resources, training materials and e-learning programmes (see for details). He has qualifications in: social work; management (MBA); training and development; and mediation and alternative dispute resolution; as well as a first-class honours degree, a doctorate (PhD) and a higher doctorate (DLitt). In 2011, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by BASW Cymru. He has been a speaker at conferences in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, India, Hong Kong, Canada, the United States and Australia. He is the director of the Avenue Professional Development Programme, a subscription-based online learning community for the people professions ( His personal website and blog are at 


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