The Department of Health is considering the case for a government-sponsored social worker of the year award in England.
The new category, believed to be the first of its kind for the profession, could be added to the annual Skills for Care Accolades or Health and Social Care Awards, which recognise the work of teams and employers but have few individual categories.
Glen Mason, director of social care leadership and performance at the DH, said officials were exploring the idea after an award for social care apprentice of the year was recently introduced to the Skills for Care Accolades, which recognises good practice in workforce development in children's and adult services.
Unlike other professions, the work of individual social workers is not celebrated at a national level in government-sponsored awards.
For example, this year’s ceremony for the UK Teaching Awards, sponsored by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, took place in London’s Drury Lane Theatre yesterday. It was screened on BBC Two in a programme hosted by Christine Bleakley and Jeremy Vine, which drew 900,000 viewers.
An independent Social Worker of the Year awards covering the whole of the UK and organised by Beverley Williams, a practitioner from Milton Keynes, takes place this weekend at the Park Inn Hotel, Bedford, on 31 October.
“There is lots of good practice going on in social work and we deserve the same recognition as other professions,” said Williams.
“It’s about time the government realised this. I started the awards in 2006 because there wasn’t really anything out there, and I wanted to bring social work into line with teaching, which has the UK Teaching Awards. I hope the Department of Health will work together with me.”
A spokesperson for the DH said: "The Department is looking at the feasibility of such an award, the details of which will be confirmed in due course."
A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it sponsored various awards for safeguarding children which were open to nominations from children's social care teams, but did not have a specific award for individual social workers.
Jacqui Knight, social worker of year 2008
Social Workers Awards