With a dedication to social work that spans more than 40 years, it’s easy to see why Patricia Fifield won not just one but two accolades at the 2013 Social Worker of the Year Awards.
Patricia was one of the first students to train in social work in the 1970s and she has spent 26 years and counting with the adults social services department at Warwickshire County Council. She picked up the awards for Adults Social Worker of the Year and Overall Social Worker of the Year in recognition of her commitment to the profession.
“When I won the awards I felt a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights to be honest,” says Patricia. “But it was lovely and it was very moving to read the comments my colleagues had made about me on the entry form.”
Patricia began her career with a degree in social administration at Manchester University, which sparked an interest in social policy and social work. Following this she worked with a voluntary organisation, before studying for a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) at Portsmouth Polytechnic.
“Things were quite different then from how they are now and it was a time where a lot was happening in social care,” she says. “It was quite exciting and challenging to be part of that.”
In her current role with Warwickshire, Patricia is part of a specialist team for older people, as well as practice educator to new students. “There have been a number of students I have worked with who have gone on to do quite good things themselves and it has been nice to see that,” she says.
“I’ve also seen a number of situations where people have been satisfactorily placed somewhere that is really meeting their needs and where they are happy,” she adds. “There have been lots of moments of pleasure like that over the years.”
In addition to her passion for the profession, Patricia says that being part of a team who is “equally committed” has helped her to be resilient and maintain her long-standing career in social work.
“The worst thing is to feel isolated so it is very important to feel supported by your colleagues and your managers and contribute yourself to that too,” she says. “Social work is a difficult job and we need each other to offer support through the difficult times, to talk to and to share things with.”