A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Aston University and the British Association of Social Workers is set to provide greater support to front-line social workers as they protect and serve the most vulnerable people in our society.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW), based in Birmingham, is the UK’s largest membership association for social workers. It is widely recognised as the primary communication channel in the development of social policies at both a national and international level. It provides members with benefits and services that support the professionalism of social workers, including professional indemnity, advice, representation and professional development.
The association has entered into the partnership with Aston University in order to ensure that it delivers the most appropriate products and services to meet the needs of their members, making BASW a professional organisation of choice. It is vital for the future success of the association, which is funded primarily by membership fees, that its members feel supported, particularly in this current climate of change in the profession and in society.
The main work of the partnership will be to develop and implement a marketing strategy for BASW, and to instigate a culture change from internally-focused to customer-orientated. Specifically, Aston University will work with BASW to create a new brand for itself – ensuring it is perceived as member-led, dynamic, and highly relevant to the profession and a core influence at national level. An embedded market orientation and a greater emphasis on market research will enable the association to become more adaptive to changes in the sector, and to develop its product range and enhance existing products and services.
The successful completion of the project will result in wider membership for the organisation, which will increase income from membership fees, and increase the influence of the association for the members it represents. Phil James, Deputy CEO of BASW, said: ‘Working with Aston Business School has been inspirational. Our KTP Associate, Erin Edmead, has helped us to deliver a real return on investment in terms of business results. But perhaps more important and impressive than that is the effect that we have seen on our culture. We’ve become much more aware and focused upon our market and the tools, techniques and mind-set that are needed to make sure we stay relevant to our members and those who use our services.’
The research project is being led by Dr John Rudd, of Aston Business School, working with the support of colleagues from the Marketing Research Group. The project provides a challenging opportunity for Aston Business School to undertake academic research in this rapidly evolving sector. Dr Rudd said, ‘On completion of this project I am convinced that BASW will be in great shape to deliver maximum value to members. The organisation and the sector as a whole face significant challenges, but I am in no doubt that BASW will be prepared to meet these through robust and member-facing marketing practices”.
The improvements made possible as a result of this KTP project are designed to allow social workers to improve their own personal effectiveness to the benefit of their clients, their employers and society as a whole. In the long-term the wider community will benefit from this work, particularly those who are deprived or disadvantaged, as these are the key clients of social workers.