This year’s Queen’s birthday honours list has recognised a number of social workers and managers, and others involved in social care, for their services to the sector.
Beverley Barnett-Jones, a children’s services team manager at Coventry council, and Douglas Shearer, part of Team Fostering since 2001, were among those awarded MBEs.
Barnett-Jones, who recently left her post after more than two decades as a children’s and families’ social worker, told Community Care she was “thrilled for me, all my wonderful colleagues and fellow collaborators”.
But she added that, as a Windrush child, she felt “some irony” that the state was paying respect to her contribution, while offering a hostile environment to others.
“The teams I led loved each other and more importantly, we transferred that love into a huge empathetic mass that embraced, supported, challenged and cared for the families we had the privilege to know and work with,” Barnett-Jones said. “This work was sometimes in the most distressing places but we found human resilience and we evoked change with the people we worked with. I accept this award in honour of them.”
Several current and former social work directors were also in line for honours.
Stuart Smith, Calderdale council’s director for adults’ and children’s services, who is also a non-executive Cafcass director, received an OBE. He said he felt “proud, delighted – and a bit embarrassed” on hearing of his award.
“It’s a cliché but I really believe this is down to the strength of the people around me – senior managers and fantastic social workers, early intervention and family support workers – they’ve turned Calderdale into a centre of excellence,” Smith added. Last year Community Care reported on Calderdale’s innovative community social work practice, which social workers have begun running from a Victorian shopfront in Halifax.
At Lincolnshire council, the director of children’s services (DCS) Debbie Barnes and Patricia Bradwell, the executive councillor for children’s services, both also took OBEs.
“Both Patricia and Debbie have been instrumental in transforming Lincolnshire’s children’s services into a beacon of excellence and this is fully deserved,” said council leader Martin Hill.
In Hampshire, the council’s DCS Steve Crocker, was another OBE recipient for services to children’s social care. He described the award as “wholly unexpected and an amazing surprise and privilege” – and like Smith, paid tribute to the work of his social work colleagues.
And in North Yorkshire, the local authority’s former DCS, Peter Dwyer, received a CBE. He tweeted that he was “fortunate to have worked with and learnt from great folk”.
Elsewhere, a number of foster carers also gained recognition for longstanding services to children and families. In Leeds, Lorraine Long, who has been a foster carer for the city council for 36 years, told the Yorkshire Post she initially believed her MBE letter was a “hoax”.
But she added: “Once I read it and realised it was real, though, I was very pleased. I’m a foster carer because I want to give the kids a better life and make them aware they are a valued member of society.”
A number of notable charity sector figures also featured on the Queen’s birthday list.
John Powell, national lead on end-of-life care at the Association of Directors of Adults’ Social Services received an MBE for services to vulnerable people. Hilary Emery, the chief executive of the National Children’s Board, was awarded a CBE. Meanwhile Luke Rodgers, the founder of Foster Focus, and Amanda Knowles, operations director of Future Horizons, both received MBEs for work with their charities, which support children in care and care leavers.