A mental health worker has won a lifetime award for outstanding
achievement in social care.
Linda Couchman was given the recognition at the department of
health’s Health and Social Care Awards ceremony in Manchester for
her work with adults with mental health needs who live in the
The link resource centre team leader with Cheshire Council
social services began her career in Peterborough in special needs
service. Moving to Cheshire, she became a residential care
assistant for adults with learning difficulties.
In the early 1990s, Couchman became centre team leader at Link
Housing, which works with adults with mental health needs in the
community. It is recognised as a model of good practice, partly to
due to Couchman’s enthusiasm, commitment and leadership
Couchman said after the ceremony that the occasion was flying
the flag for public sector workers: “People in social care are the
forgotten heroes. This award isn’t about me, it’s about
everyone in social care and everyone in the room last night.”
She added that she would encourage young people to go into
social work as a career. Her daughter is taking on the family
tradition, and is now training in social work while working as a
care assistant with older people.
Social care awards also went to Young Livin’ at Kingston
upon Thames social services, Sunderland Council’s social
services department, Rapid Access Rehabilitation Service at Halton
Council and The New Hope Project and Jigsaw Project.
Other social care award recipients were Age Concern,
Oxfordshire, ‘Moving on Up’ project at Suffolk Council,
Deafblind UK Regional Deafblind, Hampshire Direct Payments and
Carers’ Breaks Direct Access at Bury Council.
Presenting the awards, health secretary Alan Milburn said: “The
innovation and excellence demonstrated by frontline staff shows
what can be achieved in these fields. Reform in health and social
services will be led by the best and tonight we have seen what the
very best can do.”