BASW unveils new chief executive

Dr Ruth Allen, former chair of The College of Social Work's mental health faculty, will take up post in April

Dr Ruth Allen is to become the new chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers.

Allen, currently director of social work at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, will start in post on 11 April. She succeeds Bridget Robb, who is retiring after three years as BASW’s chief executive.

Allen is highly regarded in the sector, particularly for her work on social work and mental health. She chaired The College of Social Work’s mental health faculty and currently co-chairs the practice advisory group set up by Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults.

Allen said she was “honoured and delighted” to be chosen for the BASW post: “I am looking forward to continuing to grow the association, building on our strengths and ensuring we develop and innovate to meet the needs and expectations of current and prospective members – and of the diverse social work settings and policy contexts in which they work.”

She added: “My professional roots are in supporting and developing excellent, values-led social work practice. Sustaining great social work requires a strong and confident profession. I am excited about being part of taking that to its next level through BASW.”

Allen will take on the job at a time of renewed government appetite to reform social work. Earlier today, the Department for Education announced plans to set up a new social work body to oversee social work practice, education and training. The new organisation will eventually take on responsibility for social work regulation from the HCPC.

The move to set up a new body comes months after the closure of The College of Social Work. The college shut down after ministers withdrew funding and refused to give it responsibility for practice accreditation, which would have brought in much-needed funds. BASW took on responsibility for some of the college’s ‘legacy’ projects, including the Professional Capabilities Framework, after the closure.

On Allen’s appointment, Guy Shennan, BASW chair, said: “Ruth was an outstanding candidate to become BASW’s new chief executive.

Her time as chair of The College of Social Work’s mental health faculty combined with her varied experience as a practitioner and social work leader, her strong focus on social work practice including through her academic interests and her writing, and her strong adherence to our core values, make Ruth the perfect choice to lead the association.”

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