Baroness Doreen Lawrence gives keynote speech at University of Northampton’s conference about race equality in social work

Date 16.11.2015

The University of Northampton was pleased to welcome Baroness Doreen Lawrence as a keynote speaker at a conference aimed at embedding race equality into the social work profession.

The conference on 20 June was organised by the Padare Group of the Social Work subject team within the University’s School of Health, and focused on how social workers should aspire to meet the needs and demands of a diverse population. Through a range of workshops and debates, the delegates looked at ways of embedding race equality in social work education and practice, and how to oppose approaches that may exclude individuals because of their race.

Baroness Lawrence’s son, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered in 1993 in an unprovoked attack and she has spent over 20 years campaigning for justice for her son and for equality for everyone else.

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust was set up in 1998 to give bursaries to young people who want to study architecture because Stephen aspired and worked towards being an architect. The Stephen Lawrence Centre was built in Stephen’s memory in 2008. Baroness Lawrence was appointed OBE for services to community relations in 2003 and received a life peerage in 2013, taking office in the House of Lords as a Labour Peer in October 2013.

When talking about her campaign work she said: “My son deserved better. He didn’t have a voice so I had to become his voice. I didn’t want Stephen’s death to become another statistic. It’s been hard work, but I should not be the only voice. We all have responsibility and have to speak out if we think we are being discriminated against.”

Nasila Tahiru, who oraganised the event and Baroness Lawrence as the keynote speaker, commented: “I hope that  the pioneering work we are developing with the Padare Group becomes embedded and continues to be evaluated . I am proud of the work we are doing here at the University of Northampton, which is having an impact across the Higher Education sector.”
Sue Kennedy, Leader for Social Work at the University of Northampton, commented: “We were very pleased to welcome Baroness Doreen Lawrence to the Padare’s Group’s second conference. We chose her as the keynote speaker because of the tireless work she has done to speak out against racism and through the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, she believes in education as the way forward. She also has a link to Northampton as her other son, Stuart graduated in 2001 when the University was University College Northampton.

“The Social Work team at the University believes in transforming lives and that social workers should be at the forefront of making these changes. In particular, social work should be the profession that is speaking out against racism because all social workers sign up to the values of social justice, human rights and anti-racism as students and practitioners.”​

L-R  Nasila Tahiru, Conference Organiser, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Professor Nick Petford, University Vice Chancellor