The winners of the 2013 Social Worker of the Year Awards gathered at Parliament earlier this week to be toasted by the likes of children’s minister Edward Timpson. Combined, they embody the reasons why every social worker can hold their head up high.
1. Patricia Fifield, Warwickshire Council – Social Worker of the Year and Adult Social Worker of the Year
For service users she’s empowering, for colleagues a role model who is generous in sharing her expertise. As one of her colleagues says: “If ever me or my family need a social worker, I hope it can be Pat.” What greater recommendation could a social worker get?
2. Amanda Beaufoy, Worcestershire Council – Children’s Social Worker of the Year
When everyone else had given up on a violent nine-year-old, Amanda refused to throw in the towel despite the personal risk. Today the boy is in school and happy. No wonder Amanda’s the children’s social worker of the year.
3. Peter Gilbert – Outstanding Contribution to Social Work
Peter may have passed away since the awards but his influence on social work lives on. His willingness to challenge the status quo on issues like spirituality in social work, plus his openness about his own struggle with depression, made him a man of warmth and integrity.
4. CATCH Team, Buckinghamshire Council – Team of the Year, Children
On-call 365 days a year, the CATCH Team delivers in-the-nick-of-time support to crisis-hit families with teenage children. From mediation and mentoring to emergency childcare, the CATCH Team is the glue helping many Buckinghamshire families stick together.
5. Hospital In-Reach Team, Bracknell Forest Council – Team of the Year, Adults
There might only be five of them, but the Hospital In-Reach Team get the job done. They handle as many as 100 discharges from three acute hospitals at any one time and yet keep the percentage of delayed transfers to a third of the national average without compromising on quality.
6. Jenni Randall – Lifetime Achievement Award
Jenni’s career is full of achievements, not least her pioneering work to move children’s homes from a custodial to a therapeutic approach. What’s more, she has continued to be a rock for those she has worked with, continuing to offer them support long after they stop being her clients.
7. Brian Mitchell, Calderdale Council – Practice Teacher of the Year
Brian is the Miracle-Gro of social work education, linking up Bradford College and Calderdale Council to enhance the training of social workers, old and new. He also successfully made the case for a Grow Your Own Social Worker scheme to help foster next-gen social workers.
8. Tracy Cullen, Salford Council – Team Leader, Adults
Tracy’s a dab-hand at picking the right mix of team skills and used this to engineer a super-smooth transition for service users with learning disabilities, who were being moved to Salford after spending most of their life in a North Wales care home.
9. Michelle Newman, Plymouth Council – Team Leader, Children’s
Faced with rising referrals, Michelle sprung into action devising a multi-agency hub approach and bolstering Plymouth’s threshold team by brushing up on her knowledge of how to tackle youth homelessness, child sexual exploitation and remands to local authority care.
10. Ruth Aten-Sherwood, Derbyshire Council – NQSW, Adults
She only qualified in 2011 but Ruth’s already helped develop a residential service for older people. She’s also made herself a dependable point of contact for service users, families and professionals. “Thanks to Ruth my health has improved and I’m so much happier,” says one resident.
11. Jennifer Skirrow, Southwark Council – NQSW, Children’s
The judges call her inspiring and they aren’t wrong. With her focus on solutions, she’s already making a big difference. As one 10-year-old she worked with says: “I am happy that I have been adopted but kind of sad that Jenni will not be my social worker.”
12. Derbyshire County Council Adult Care – Employer of the Year
Derbyshire defied the cuts and made supporting social workers a top priority. It invested in services for the elderly, sponsored staff to do social work degrees, hired NQSWs and gave social workers a say in service design. The result? Happier social workers, better supported service users.