Social Worker of the Year Awards 2021 opens for entries

Awards scheme returns after Covid-induced break in 2020, with slimmed down category list but new awards for social justice advocacy and universities. Entries will close on 23 July

Social Worker of the Year Awards
The Social Worker of the Year Awards 2021 took place virtually on 17 November

Entries are now open for the 2021 Social Worker of the Year Awards, which returns this year after a Covid-induced break in 2020.

The awards has a slimmed-down list of categories this year – 12, as opposed to 16 to 18 in previous years – with the merger of some awards previously split into children’s and adults’ sections. However, there are two new gongs this year: the social justice advocate award and university of the year.

In 2020, a ‘thank you social workers’ event took place, which focused on individual experiences of working during the Covid-19 pandemic. Peter Hay, chair of the Social Work Awards, said this year’s event hopes to “inspire social workers across England to connect together”.

‘Time to reconnect with each other’

“This year, as we navigate through the turbulence caused by the pandemic, it’s so important for us to take the time to reconnect with each other,” he said.

“As a charity we also feel the time is right to bring back the awards to recognise outstanding social work practice during the pandemic.”

Award categories

  • Children’s social worker
  • Adult social worker
  • Newly qualified social worker
  • Student
  • Team
  • Team leader
  • Mental health social worker
  • Social work employer
  • Practice educator
  • Social justice advocate
  • University
  • Outstanding contribution during Covid-19

The closing date for entries is Friday 23 July. The shortlist will be announced in early October and the winners revealed at a virtual ceremony at the end of November.

Sponsors for the awards are being finalised.

For more information about the 2021 Social Worker of the Year Awards, including the criteria for categories and how to enter, visit

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10 Responses to Social Worker of the Year Awards 2021 opens for entries

  1. Alison May 20, 2021 at 9:51 am #

    All very strange. “Take the time to reconnect with each other” by elevating one person as more worthy then the mass of us? And for those of you who will brand me as the joyless spoilsport, think about the corporatisation of social work you are validating next time you moan about privatisation and bureaucracy and your managers favouring some staff over others. Why not go the whole hog and have us wear different shades of apparel just to emphasise who is the special and worthy one from the slackers who are not “outstanding.” My nomination is the genius in our services who hyperventilates with excitement over how the pandemic is an “opportunity” for “new ways of working.”

    • S.Francis June 12, 2021 at 10:53 pm #


  2. Keith May 20, 2021 at 10:08 am #

    Why no award for Outstanding Auditor? Isn’t paperwork and “evidence trails” the essential core of contemporary social work?

  3. Neil May 20, 2021 at 12:13 pm #

    The sponsors are?

  4. Sandra May 20, 2021 at 12:37 pm #

    Personally I find the idea of celebrating disgusting when we can’t be bothered to publicly commemorate the deaths of our colleagues during the pandemic. I sincerely hope that anyone nominated will pause to think about that. And those of you accepting your ‘award’ please spare us the “on behalf of all” platitude, I don’t accept nor validate it.

  5. Frasierfanclub1 May 26, 2021 at 1:05 am #

    Our profession should award nationally accredited Commendations for exceptional work rather than an Oscar style award that only one.per category can win. Exceptional work should be recognised.

  6. old school May 26, 2021 at 8:21 pm #

    Can I have the award for not having time to do the CPD yet and the thought of having eight to do fills me with fear? I’m
    Your winner, other applicants need not apply

  7. Claire June 1, 2021 at 2:04 pm #

    Congratulations old school. Don’t forget to thank SWE for promoting social work, BASW for “making it all about us”, your ever so supportive manager, your colleagues for “just being there”, twitter for insights and developing your communication skills, whichever vegan energy bar you get to eat instead of a proper lunch, and all the service users (or what ever the new descriptive fad is at the time) for making you the social worker you are. Don’t forget a cat reference goes a long way. If you can mention a ‘kitsch’ pop song it shows you are ever so ordinary. Reference a “co-production” in a faux humble way. Mention something you messed up but over lay it with irony so it raises a chuckle rather than shows you as a bit incompetent. Remember not to say “frontline social worker” though. That’s the language of war and we are sweetheart social workers always sharing and deferring, never secretly embracing power differentials and privilege.

  8. Bemused June 2, 2021 at 9:12 am #

    Is there anything some social workers won’t appropriate? Frontline as a war analogy. Really? The only war social workers are engaged in is their car mileage claims. What next? Soldiers bemoaning the horror of S75 agreements? Why is social work the thief of other peoples realities? Leave the poor magpies alone to their own truth, create your own authentic vocabulary if there is anything unique to social work. This is just getting embarrassing now. Challenging language is not the same as challenging inequality unless you give up some of your powers and privileges. Pretending that saying is the same as doing is really just pretending isn’t it? When the dictionary becomes the authoritative social work text, we have reached the nadir of our irrelevance.

  9. Matthew June 2, 2021 at 11:47 am #

    I won a Hidden Gem award once. Not sure which gem I had hidden where in the daily grind of doing as I was told.