Social Worker of the Year Awards open for entries

New gongs for supporting children in education and digital transformation among 17 categories in this year's awards, which will be celebrated in person for first time since 2019

Vivian Okeze-Tirado, overall winner at the 2021 Social Worker of the Year Awards
Vivian Okeze-Tirado, overall winner at the 2021 Social Worker of the Year Awards

The Social Worker of the Year Awards are open for entries, with practitioners, managers, teams, organisations and students in England being recognised across 17 categories this year.

Awarded for the first time this year are gongs supporting children in education – open to practitioners who have done exceptional work to support children’s attendance during Covid or the education of children and young people with an education health and care plan – and digital transformation. The latter is for practitioners, teams or councils who have sought to improve people’s lives through technology.

Other awards are returning this year following last year’s slimmed down selection, with those for team, team leaders and newly qualified social workers split again into adults’ and children’s categories, and the lifetime achievement award also making a reappaearance.

The social justice advocate award, introduced last year to recognise practitioners’ work to tackle discrimination, inequality and injustice, is being retained this year. Last year’s category winner, Vivian Okeze-Tirado, a fostering practitioner at West Sussex County Council, won the overall social worker of the year gong, which will also be awarded this year to one of the 17 category winners.

The 2022 awards mark a return to normality for the awards after two years of Covid-induced disruption, with an in-person ceremony scheduled for 4 November.

“Social work is such an important and demanding profession,” said Peter Hay, chair of the Social Work Awards, the charity that organises the awards. “The Social Worker of the Year Awards provide the opportunity for us to celebrate the extraordinary work carried out by those who work in the sector in England. If you know an inspiring social worker, make sure you let them know by nominating them this year.”

Nominations close on 24 June 2022. Find out more about entering the awards.

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13 Responses to Social Worker of the Year Awards open for entries

  1. Tahin April 28, 2022 at 9:03 am #

    “Social Worker of the Year Awards provide the opportunity for us to celebrate the extraordinary work carried out by those in the sector in England. If you know an inspiring social worker make sure you let them know by nominating them this year”. Simpler put “all social workers are equal but some are more equal than others”. Good to know that the best way of validating the diversity of social workers is by committee approved elitism.

    • Percy April 29, 2022 at 7:12 am #

      Spot on. Affirming one social worker to be superior to another is not an objective choice based on them being an “inspiration” but an ideological stetement which reinforces that for the so called leaders of our profession, hierarchies are everything and democratic affirmation of collective worth is nothing. Next time our betters tell us that they stand for equality, justice, human rights and indeed how fiercely anti- racist they are, lets remind them that in their world these things only apply to some not all. None of this ofcourse should be a surprise in a profession that believes being given an “honour” on behalf of an Empire that colonised, robbed and enslaved millions of our fellow humans is something to be proud of. By all means clutch your MBE’s and whatever “Of the Year” gong you are given but never ever claim it on behalf of the rest of us.

  2. Afia April 30, 2022 at 9:28 am #

    I disagree. Whatever the award I belive it is deserved. The British Empire is long gone so why is accepting an MBE bad? Many Black and Asian people have been honoured that way. We don’t live in a communist dictatorship so we shouldn’t be blind to the fact that some people are superior to other people. We should celebrate excellence and not the mediocrity that some would like us to. Please who ever wins do accept it on all of our behalf because those of us who don’t win know that those who do are better at what they do.

    • Alice May 3, 2022 at 8:58 am #

      So if you believe in individual elevation you must believe that individuals have the right to.fisagree with you too. Or is communist dictatorship a euphemism for I know best?

    • JD May 3, 2022 at 5:26 pm #

      You are WRONG Afia ‘some people are superior to others…British Empire is long gone’?!

      What planet are you on?

      Put simply.. Disgraceful and polarised response!

  3. Cammy May 1, 2022 at 1:21 pm #

    I wonder if the great and the good who advocate for and judge this award would be as comfortable if we moved to having individual employment contracts for social workers? After all if it is so easy and objectively sound to single out individual social workers for their higher performance and inspiration why not allow us all to negotiate our own individual pay rates? That way the best would be paid what they deserve rather than lag along with the also runs like me dragging them to my pay level. Reward the best all year-round not just at a commercially sponsored”celebration” folks.

  4. Aysha Islam May 6, 2022 at 7:47 pm #

    Social Workers have had their fair share of scrutiny and criticisms. If Awards ceremonies recognise someone’s worth then, I, personally do not think it is wrong. Infact, celebrating success is good for the individual and for the workforce…not forgetting people with lived experience who have benefitted.

  5. Brian May 7, 2022 at 1:49 pm #

    There should be a special residence category and CC would be my nomination. To report some of the most horrific stories factually and that deserves an accolade in the world of the Daily Mail. Also to keep reporting in the face of some of the never ending nonsense spouted on behalf of social work without cracking up, both senses, is a very special skill indeed. CC also gives us a forum to hear from our peers and I have learnt a great deal had I not been exposed to that opportunity. Sycophantic though this might read, I genuinely mean it.

    • Mithran Samuel May 9, 2022 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you so much for that Brian. That’s very kind of you to say. We will do our best to keep it up, Mithran

  6. Sandy May 9, 2022 at 7:49 am #

    Social workers should be having a “fair share of scrutiny and criticism.” We should be welcoming that. It’s called accountability. If the scrutiny and criticism is unfair confront and challenge it with your more truthful narrative. Giving an award for “success” implies there must also be many situations where there is no success as well. Also how do you measure the “success” of one social worker against that of the other thousands? It’s all very subjective isn’t it? How is a sponsored shindig “good” for people with lived experience?

  7. Kevin May 10, 2022 at 9:43 am #

    I won a Hidden Gem award once, had it given to me by Head of Service and everything. It used to sit on my desk but hot desking has confined it to the locker. Not sure how Hidden I was given by then I had worked 15 years in the place and to date don’t know what made me a Gem. Point is, these are arbitrary decisions more to do with the corporatisation of social work than celebrating exceptional contributions. Many things have dragged social work towards mediocrity, none more than the bug eyed belief that having an MBA transforms the holder into an all seeing, all knowing expert who can spot above competent practice. I get a slice from Greggs most days. It appears they also celebrate their staff. When I congratulated the young woman on her badge she said it felt great as she would get free lunch for a week. Valuing your staff by giving them something tangible versus a photo opportunity at a beano? Greggs all the way for me. As an aside and not because I am a narcissist, but no one ever mentions I am a Hidden Gem social worker. Why no Social Worker of the Year gong for making the most Food Bank referrals?

  8. Claire May 11, 2022 at 8:14 am #

    Given that sending somone to a food Bank has become a core social work ‘intervention’ and my boss thinks we are “empowering” and giving people “choice and control” when we do, actually there is an award for the most referrer to a food bank. Have made your nomination for the Social Justice Advocate yet?

  9. Guy May 11, 2022 at 12:11 pm #

    Given that honesty is one of the Nolan principles, surely the organisers should proudly own that this process has everything to do with affirming elitism than a celebration of the “extraordinary work carried out by those in the sector.” It would be less cynical and exploitative of emotion and sensitivity. The “sector” being an embracer of respect and politeness presumably there won’t be an Oscar Moment. That said, an event planned for the eve of the Gunpowder Plot might spring up a surprise.