Help defend freedom of speech: Sanctioned by Social Work England

by Rachel Meade

Help defend freedom of speech: Sanctioned by Social Work England

by Rachel Meade
Rachel Meade
Case Owner
I am a social worker who was sanctioned by Social Work England and may lose my job for questioning the reform to Gender Recognition Act.
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Rachel Meade
Case Owner
I am a social worker who was sanctioned by Social Work England and may lose my job for questioning the reform to Gender Recognition Act.
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Latest: June 24, 2022

Work disciplinary hearing on 28th June

Just a quick update to let you now what has been happening and due to all the delays detailed below to once again ask for any further shares / donations so I can continue to fight and fund my legal c…

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My name is Rachel Meade. I am a social worker who has spent my working life in the health and social care sector. I have been improperly sanctioned by Social Work England, the regulatory body for social work registration, for speaking up about women's rights during the government’s consultation period on reform to the Gender Recognition Act. Following the sanctioning by Social Work England I was suspended from work by my employer and continue to subject to a disciplinary process and have been informed that I am at risk of losing my job, which is my vocational career.


I have instructed my legal team Cole Khan Solicitors to instigate proceedings against Social Work England & my Employer, I am taking my case to an employment tribunal as both these organization's continue to subject me to discrimination on the basis of my protected beliefs under the Equality Act 2010.


I am crowdfunding to pay legal fees to take this case to an employment tribunal. It is essential that Social Work professionals are able to express views and raise concerns about areas of change to public policy that may impact all clients across all protected characteristics. There should be no area of legislative change that is beyond question, particularly in areas of health and social care, where clients are reliant on professionals to constantly interrogate new evidence to enable them to act in their best interests.


This is even more important due to the release on Dec 21st 2021 of the Women's and Equalities Committee Report, recommending that the Government enact a policy of allowing the changing of sex merely by self-declaration with all independent safeguarding processes removed.


Who am I?

 I originally qualified as a nurse and then later trained as a social worker which I have been for over 20 years. I currently work in a busy hospital and have seen first-hand pressures facing the NHS and social care during the pandemic. I have a young family and like everyone try and juggle all demands in my daily life.


I am extremely concerned around the erosion of sex-based rights, as in some cases policies have changed ahead of the law in allowing men who identify as women to access previously single sex spaces for women such as domestic abuse shelters, rape crisis center's, female only bays on hospital wards, prisons, changing rooms etc. It is also a policy issue affecting women's sports and parliamentary all women shortlists. As a social worker these changes to public and social policy may affect our care of clients in areas where there may be a clash of rights and needs, and we should be able to debate and question changes in practice without fear of reprisal.


Social Work England and my employer are both bound by the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act to promote and foster good relationships between groups of people with protected characteristics and those without.  By discriminating against me when I flagged up concerns within a private group they are failing in their duty and inhibiting social workers from asking questions that may be necessary in the care of vulnerable clients.


Summary

I was investigated by SWE due to a complaint being made by a 'friend' and former colleague who screen shot posts I shared within my private Facebook group over a 2 year period suggesting that these were indicative of my fitness to practice as a social worker. These posts were in the context of Government consultations to proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Many were from National newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Guardian as well as women's rights advocacy groups such as Fair Play for Women and Women's Place UK.


The proposed reforms included a self-declaration model of changing legal sex removing the current need for checks and balances- i.e. the requirement to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to be seen by 2 medical professionals. Since the idea was introduced, some policy makers have acted ahead of the law by allowing men who identify as women to access women only single sex spaces as well as encouraging schools, under anti bullying policies, to let boys that identify as girls to use girls' toilets and changing rooms and share accommodation on residential trips. Schools are also encouraged to socially transition pupils with dysphoria within school setting without informing parents. We have also seen police forces across UK recording crime statistics by self-declared gender identity instead of sex skewing crime statistics.


It is vital that professionals working with vulnerable members of the public, in health, social care, education, with children and families, the elderly and within the criminal justice system are able to interrogate these ideas and policy changes without fear of losing their job.


I am in the process of challenging Social Work England - my professional regulatory body who I believe have discriminated against me due to my gender critical beliefs. They placed a public Fitness to practice warning sanction on my record for a year. I was suspended by my employer as a result of Social Work England's decision and am facing a disciplinary process which I have been told may end in my dismissal.


Call to action - I am crowdfunding to raise money to fund my case so I can challenge Social Work England and my public sector employer for discriminating against me due to my gender critical beliefs.


What are we trying to achieve? - We need to stop regulators and statutory bodies from discriminating against professionals who are gender critical and express their protected beliefs. We need to further strengthen equality and human rights protections so other people are not afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.


What is the next step in the case? –  I am continuing to challenge Social Work England's discriminatory sanctioning of me and the actions of my employer and issue my claims in the Employment Tribunal and I need financial help to help me fund my legal costs to help me fight my case.


Please donate to support this challenge and share with anyone who may wish to support me.


How much we are raising and why? - I am trying to raise £50,000 to go towards legal representation.


Thank you so much for anything you are able to contribute and / or sharing my crowd funder page.

Rachel



Update 5

Rachel Meade

June 24, 2022

Work disciplinary hearing on 28th June

Just a quick update to let you now what has been happening and due to all the delays detailed below to once again ask for any further shares / donations so I can continue to fight and fund my legal costs which have now been drained.

Social Work England (SWE) hearing - 

They were meant to provide me with their case evidence against me for the fitness to practice hearing at the beginning of June, which they didn't. They then stated they would supply it by 24th June (which they have not) and have now have said that it will be by provided by the16th July.  The date for the fitness to practice hearing is not yet arranged, (they had previously stated would take place probably in August / September). It is incredibly exasperating as SWE could have avoided this costly and distressing process by after admitting they had made mistakes. Simply  reviewed their decision and agreed there was no further need for an investigation or any sanctions. As a professional body I'm really not sure what they hope to gain other than to silence any other social workers by making an example  of me.

Westminster City Council (WCC) Work disciplinary hearing- 

I was to have my hearing on 23rd May but it was postponed at the last minute due to WCC having to look over all my submissions prior to the hearing.  It was rearranged for 28th June and to date is still going ahead

Employment Tribunal-

No update - still set for December


Update 4

Rachel Meade

May 4, 2022

Case update

Hi,

Just a quick update to let you know that my Employment tribunal date has been set for the 1st December 2022.

My fitness to Practice hearing with Social Work England will likely go ahead in August - we are awaiting confirmation for the date.

I have been told by my employer Westminster Council that they will be going ahead with disciplinary and are yet to confirm a date.

To continue with support from my legal team I am reliant on donations and need to raise further funds to continue so would be so grateful if you could share my appeal far and wide so I can continue with my actions.

Thanks again for all your kindness and support it really means a lot and makes the days much brighter.

Rachel 

Update 3

Rachel Meade

March 25, 2022

Initial hearing on March 29th!

My discrimination case against Social Work England and Westminster Council is now going to an administrative hearing on Tuesday, 29th March, when my legal team will be presenting my claims. The bulk of the work has been behind the scenes so far and the funds I have are already accounted for in the work already carried out.

My legal team are working incredibly hard to pull together evidence and to make the strongest possible case for me and by extension all Social Workers and employees in regulated professions. It is vitally important that we are able to express views on legitimate political processes, particularly when those processes involve changes to the law that will impact on our service users.

As such, it is vital that I am able to win both the Employment Tribunal against Westminster Council and Social Work England as well as the forthcoming Fitness to Practice hearing with Social Work England.

As Social Workers, we must be able to balance the needs and legal rights of every service user we support. There will be occasions when some of those needs and rights are in conflict and we have a statutory duty to ensure that any conflict of rights and needs are resolved equitably, while promoting and fostering good relations between different groups protected by the 2010 Equality Act.

Two years ago, a single complaint was made about my sharing posts on my private Facebook page relating to reform of the Gender Recognition Act. This was at a time when the public were actively encouraged to engage in the political process of law reform via a public consultation process.

In the time since then, the landscape of understanding about this issue has changed rapidly and is now firmly in the wider public domain. The interim report from Dr Hilary Cass into the operation of the Tavistock GIDS has confirmed that the guidelines for treating children with gender dysphoria need urgent review. NICE have confirmed that the evidence base for the medical treatment pathway of children is very low and as a result, Sweden, France and Finland have recently revised their practice.

The ruling in the Maya Forstater case has confirmed that holding beliefs about the immutability of sex is protected under the Equality Act. Social Worker and child safeguarding expert Sonia Appleby won her employment tribunal case against the Portman & Tavistock Trust, after raising concerns about the treatment of the rising number of children referred to them.

I know that there have been numerous fundraising campaigns recently for other cases, but I desperately need your support in order to take my case forward. Anything you are able to donate would be incredibly gratefully received - if you are not able to donate could I ask you to share the page ss widely as possible, to raise as much awareness as possible of my case?


Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart

Rachel


Update 2

Rachel Meade

Feb. 10, 2022

Case update

Hi,

Following on from the interventions of my legal team, Social Work England  (SWE) directed the Case examiners to re visit their decision. The case examiners tried to be recused from doing this but Social work England insisted.

The case examiners have referred the case to a Fitness to Practice hearing and their original decision and report has been removed.  This means I no longer have a sanction against me on my registration and on their public website pending the Fitness to Practice hearing. This is my chance to clear my name and professional reputation.

I will be notified of a date for the Fitness to Practice hearing but am unclear if it will be before my initial employment tribunal hearing on 29th March or not.

I need to ensure that I have enough funds to pay my legal costs and continue my fight. I would be hugely grateful for any further donations or shares or forwards of my crowd funding page.

Thank you so much for anything you are able to do

Rachel

Update 1

Rachel Meade

Jan. 26, 2022

Tribunal claims are in

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone.  I've been really touched by all your kind  and inspiring messages of support and your generosity in helping me fight my case. 


Here is an update on some of the things that have been happening.

My case was featured in The Times highlighting concerns over silencing rights to freedom of speech and impact and real life consequences. 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk//article/social-worker-rachel-meade-suspended-over-gender-critical-facebook-posts-d8hdx7fmx

Following on from the Times article Lord Macdonald raised the issue in the House of Lords debate on 17th January when discussing the Police, Crime and Sentencing and Courts Bill.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2022-01-17/debates/D4DCBA9B-3C6A-4F1C-B932-5E04908DF13C/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill 


My legal team have now registered the claims with the Employment tribunal


If you are able to please can you continue to help spread the word for me by :-

  • Posting a link to Facebook for my crowd funding page
  • Tweeting in support.
  • Pledge again
  • Share my campaign with colleagues, friends and family

     Thank you again for all your help

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