A social worker who spent much of his childhood in care has been awarded an MBE in recognition of his work with children.
Mark Riddell left local authority care in 1984 and spent years working with a range of organisations to campaign for better support for care leavers before training as a social worker in 1990. He now manages the care leaving team at Trafford council. Ofsted has rated the quality of care leaver progress at the council as ‘outstanding’.
Riddell, who penned a book about his time in the care system and subsequent travels around the world – including a chance casting in one of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo movies, told Community Care he was “absolutely speechless” when he found out he would receive an MBE.
“It was a real ‘wow’ moment. I was delighted. Every day I get up, I go to work, I’m passionate about my job and I really enjoy it. The best bit is the satisfaction of achieving something every day, of watching children from some really quite difficult backgrounds come through it. I’ve been doing this for 33 years. Working with children in care and care leavers is the best job in the world.”
Theresa Grant, Trafford council’s chief executive, said the MBE was testament to the impact of Riddell’s longstanding dedication to supporting children who were facing extreme difficulties in their lives.
“He has, through his caring, committed work, played a key role in ensuring hundreds of children have not only received the most positive experience during their formative years, but that many have ultimately found safety and security within new family environments.”
Several senior children’s services leaders also received awards. Andrew Christie, who currently heads up a new trust that will take on Birmingham’s children’s services, received a CBE for services to children.
Until last year Christie was the director of children’s services at the tri-boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster councils, where two of the authorities became the first in the country to be awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating under Ofsted’s single inspection framework last year. Clare Chamberlain, who succeeded Christie in the tri-borough role, has also been awarded a CBE.
Eleanor Brazil, a children’s social care commissioner who oversaw the transition of Slough’s services to an independent trust in 2015, has received an OBE. Leeds’ former director of children’s services, Nigel Richardson, has received a CBE, as has Rotherham’s former children’s commissioner, Malcolm Newsam, who was brought in by the government to oversee children’s services following a damning report on child sexual exploitation in the town.
Cathy Blair, former director of targeted and specialist children and families services at Islington council, has been awarded an MBE for services to children’s social work.
Terry Dafter, former director of adult services at Stockport council, and Alex Fox, chief executive of Shared Lives, have both received OBEs for services to adult social care. Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, has received a CBE for services to carers.
David Behan, the chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, has received a knighthood for his services to health and care. Behan’s previous roles include the director general for social care at the Department of Health and chief inspector at the former regulator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection.