Social work awards organiser recognised in New Year’s Honours List

Beverley Williams gets MBE after founding the social worker of the year awards

Beverley Williams (left) and James Rook (right) with 2014 Social Worker of the Year, Zahraa Adam Photo: Matt Grayson

The founder of the social worker of the year awards has been made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for 2015.

Beverley Williams, an independent social worker, was honoured in the only award specifically recognising social work in this year’s list.

Williams set up and single-handedly ran the awards in her spare time in 2006 while also working as a full-time social worker and raising her family. It is now a major event with ministerial support and financial backing from sponsors Sanctuary Social Care.

“I’m over the moon to receive this honour. When I launched the awards I wanted to give social workers the recognition that they deserve. Acknowledging their success it so important – they do an extremely challenging job and work incredibly hard day in, day out, to have a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children, families and adults,” Williams said.

Another social worker to be recognised was Shabana Abasi, head of service for Cafcass in Greater Manchester. She was also made an MBE for her work raising awareness of child abduction cases in which fathers removed their children from the UK on Pakistani passports.

She told a local newspaper the award was “an acknowledgement of the important work done in the social work profession”.

Uma Mehta, chief community services lawyer  at Islington Borough Council and Community Care Inform author, was made a CBE for services to children. Mehta has been involved in training both social workers and judges on how to improve care proceedings in the wake of the Family Justice Review. She is also leading the development of a national template to help children’s social workers prepare evidence for court.

She told Community Care: “I’m sincerely thankful and very humbled to be recognised with such an honour. I’m overwhelmed and hope to continue doing the work that I love for many years to come.”

Specific focus on children and young people

This year’s list had a specific focus on those people working with children and young people with more than 66 honours handed out to those involved in helping vulnerable children and young people (excluding specific education honours).

They included former social worker and lawyer Joyce Plotnikoff who was made a Dame for services to vulnerable child witnesses.

Plotnikoff, who worked as a social worker in Glasgow and also as a children’s guardian for 10 years, has her own consultancy working with governments to focus on the operation of the legal system, particularly the visual recording of evidence from child witnesses.

Foster carers were also recognised. Jillian and Brian Jones in Worcestershire, Margaret Hawkes in Merseyside, John and Linda Greener in Gateshead and Marion Crangle in Renfrewshire were just a few recognised with MBEs.

Others recognised for their work with vulnerable children and young people included:

  • Professor Julian Le Grand was knighted for services to social science and public services, including his review of children’s social care at Doncaster Council, which recommended splitting it off from the council and managing it through an independent trust. Similar proposals are now being examined in other areas such as Birmingham.
  • Esther Rantzen was made a Dame for services to both children and older people through Childline and The Silver Line.
  • Mrs Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, the commissioner for children and young people in Northern Ireland.
  • Professor Bill Whyte for his research on youth justice in Scotland.
  • Tamsin Baldwin and Rachel Wakeman, the founders of Imara, a service offering support services and trauma care to child abuse victims and their families in Nottingham.
  • Stephanie Brivio, assistant director for child protection at the Department for Education, for her work in implementing the Munro Review of child protection and serious case reviews.
  • Dr John Simmonds, director of policy research and development at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
  • Roma Charlton, chief executive officer for After Adoption
  • Joseph Cuddy, former border force officer Gatwick Airport, for services to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
British Empire Medal (BEM)
  • Yvonne Ramsay, member of Kinsfolk Carers for services to kinship care families in Edinburgh.

Other social care honours

Both the past and present chairs of disability charity Scope were honoured, with former chair Dr Alice Maynard made a CBE while present chair Dr Andrew McDonald was made Companion of the Order of the Bath for his work improving the lot of disabled workers across the civil service.

Other notable honours in social care were:

  • Alan Eccles, the barrister and public guardian, was honoured with a CBE for his legal work around mental capacity.
  • Dr Anna Van Der Gaag, chair of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Margaret Willcox, commissioning director for adult social care at Gloucestershire County Council.
  • Lynda Rowbotham, head of legal at Mencap.
  • Rene Rigby, a development officer at Scottish Care, a body for independent care homes in Scotland, and dementia ambassador.

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4 Responses to Social work awards organiser recognised in New Year’s Honours List

  1. Philip Measures January 4, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    I simply think that it is wrong for people to be honoured just for doing their jobs – what they are paid for and often from the public purse.

    • Judy Cooper January 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      But isn’t it lovely that Beverley has been honoured for what she did in her spare time to help raise the profile of social workers and social work?

  2. Lynne Brosnan January 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    Have to agree with Phillip on this one. These people are doing a job which they are paid to do.

  3. Lynda Akhtar January 5, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    I imagine that all of those honoured will have done far more than their jobs, and far more than the public purse has paid them for, in order to have been nominated and then awarded one of these honours. I know that is the case for another social work professional, Maureen Murray, who has also been awarded an MBE this year, for services to disabled children. Maureen is recently retired but for many years she worked with tremendous energy, flair and creativity, not just to provide a brilliant service to the children she worked with, but championing the rights of disabled children, finding ways to open up more opportunities to them, and inspiring the rest of us to be that bit more ambitious about what these young people and their families could do, and how we could support them. I know lots of us in social care work really hard, but there are some people who just shine out, and it is great that at least some of them can be recognised in this way. And it is also a recognition of the value of social work, that the rest of us can also take some pride in. So, although I don’t normally set much store by these awards either, let’s just enjoy the fact that people in our profession are now being recognised for the work they do.