by Ray Jones
It is a tough time to be a social worker in England.
There is more demand for help from children, families and from disabled and older people. Poverty and deprivation is increasing, and the work to do continues to grow.
All of this is happening in the midst of big cuts in the government’s funding to local councils, which has a knock-on impact of less money for social work services and for voluntary organisations and other service providers.
In the middle of this over-heated melting pot are social workers who are working hard with tremendous commitment to assist those who are in difficulty or distressed and those who may need care and protection.
Recently in The Guardian Harry Ferguson, who is professor of social work at Nottingham University, asked ‘why are social workers so reluctant to celebrate their achievements’ and David Brindle noted that “good social workers are invaluable, so let’s give them proper support”.
Well, there is an opportunity to give recognition to those social workers who are a role model for us all and to celebrate what social workers can and do contribute across our communities.
I chair the charity which runs the Social Worker of the Year Awards in England. The Awards were started eleven years ago by Beverley Williams, who is a practising front-line social worker. Every year they have grown with more nominations, more sponsors and more profile.
The event includes a marvellous dinner and awards evening attended by 400 people in London in November and a Parliamentary reception for all winners in the spring.
The eighteen award categories range from student social worker of the year, adults’ and children’s social workers, teams and managers of the year, to championing the values of social work and promoting social work.
The 2016 overall social worker of the year was Bianka Lang, a children’s services team manager with Essex County Council, and Suzy Croft, until recently a palliative care social worker at St John’s Hospice, received the lifetime achievement award.
The SWOTY Awards (not be to be confused with the BBC’s SPOTY Awards!) are a great opportunity to recognise individual social workers, teams and organisations who are champions for social work.
Have a look at the website to see the full range of awards. And then do nominate those who deserve recognition for their great care and contribution. The deadline for nominations is 21 July.
In the midst of difficult times, taking the time to say well done and thank you becomes even more important.