Social Worker of the Year Awards finalists unveiled

Over 90 practitioners, managers, teams and organisations shortlisted for 17 awards, whose winners will be announced at a ceremony in November

Social Worker of the Year Awards
Photo: the Social Work Awards

Over 90 social workers, managers, teams and organisations have been shortlisted for this year’s Social Worker of the Year Awards.

The finalists for the England-wide awards were chosen by a judging panel comprising social workers, sector leaders and people with lived experience of services, including a group of young care leavers.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 4 November.

As in previous years, most of the finalists are, or work for, statutory children’s or adult services providers (local authorities, children’s trusts or NHS trusts), with higher education institutions represented in the student and university categories. There are also a few nominations for voluntary or private sector organisations.

Essex County Council has the most nominations, eight, while Social Work Student Connect, a team of volunteers that produces free webinars to support social workers at all levels of practice, gained four shortlist slots.

Peter Hay, chair of the Social Work Awards, the charity which organises the scheme, said: “We are delighted with the fantastic entries received this year.

“As a charity, our aim is to shine a light on the inspirational achievements of an often-overlooked profession. Thank you to all the people who took the time out of their day to nominate a friend, colleague, or team for an award this year. And, to all our finalists, congratulations!”

Social Worker of the Year Awards finalists

Student social worker of the year

  • Solomon Tugbiyele (Anglia Ruskin University)
  • Momoh Etunu Suleman (University of Bradford)
  • Denford Duri (University of Hull)
  • Natasha Round (The Open University)
  • Stephanie Burns (University of Sunderland)
  • Shannon Briddon (Nottingham Trent University)

University of the year

  • University of Chester
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Solent University, Southampton

Newly qualified adult social worker of the year

  • Helen Southgate (Suffolk County Council)
  • Anna Boddy (City of York Council)
  • Sehrish Zeb (Essex County Council)
  • Cheryl Dixon (Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council)
  • Naomi Thompson (Worcestershire County Council)
  • Tracey Bell (Lancashire County Council)

Newly qualified children’s social worker of the year

  • Amy White (Essex County Council)
  • Mi-Gyung Kim (Achieving for Children)
  • Skerntian Keri (Wiltshire Council)
  • Maisie Pearce-Connor (London Borough of Hounslow)
  • Joe Harrison (Essex County Council)
  • Ivenna Finn (Richmond and Wandsworth Councils)
  • Dawn Bedwell (Essex County Council)

Practice educator of the year

  • Carolyn Smith (Wakefield Council)
  • Roz Ryder (Shropshire Council)
  • Sue Powell (Essex County Council)
  • Jackie Flynn (Essex County Council)
  • Minette Moorhouse (Northumberland County Council)
  • Laura Webb (Bedford Borough Council)

Team of the year, adult services (including multi-disciplinary teams)

  • The team around Kasibba – Camden Integrated Learning Disability Service (London Borough of Camden and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Enhanced support team (Derbyshire County Council)
  • Day unit multi-disciplinary team (MDT) (Mary Stevens Hospice)
  • Central adult safeguarding team (Suffolk County Council)
  • Independent futures team (Hampshire County Council)
  • Social Work Student Connect

Team of the year, children’s services

  • Families First Fostering
  • 24/7 in the home programme team (Advanced CCA)
  • Make a change team (Suffolk County Council)
  • Reunification Team (Coventry City Council)
  • Kingston and Richmond leaving care/UASC team (Achieving for Children)
  • Social Work Student Connect

Supportive social work employer of the year

  • Children’s social care (Durham County Council)
  • Children and young people service (Wakefield Council)
  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
  • Children’s services, Torbay Council

Team leader of the year, adult services

  • Lucy Hunt (Devon County Council)
  • Tom Woodd (Devon County Council and Devon Partnership NHS Trust)
  • Ian Hall (Northumberland County Council)
  • Karen Aspinall (Essex County Council)
  • Louise White (Somerset County Council)
  • Janet Hardy (Somerset County Council)

Team leader of the year, children’s services

  • Cheryl Grazette (Hertfordshire County Council)
  • Ayshea Dalby (Leicestershire County Council)
  • Helen Harding (London Borough of Havering)
  • Heather Johns (Manchester City Council)
  • Yvette Lima (Achieving for Children)
  • Michelle Morris (Aspris Fostering Services)

Digital transformation in social work

  • Hull City Council
  • Festival of Learning (Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council)
  • Adult Learning Disabilities and Innovation Team (Norfolk County Council)
  • Essex TEC Partnership (Essex County Council, Millbrook Healthcare and Provide CIC)
  • Social work team, Mary Stevens Hospice
  • Social Work Student Connect

Supporting children in education

  • Charlotte Elliot (Devon County Council)
  • Samantha Gilham (London Borough of Camden)
  • Lauren Main (Gloucestershire County Council)

Social justice advocate

  • Kirstie Baughan (Central Bedfordshire Council)
  • Ivor Wepke (Birmingham Youth Offending Service)
  • Andrea White (Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council)
  • Millie Kerr (Brighton and Hove City Council)
  • Social Work Student Connect

Mental health social worker of the year

  • Tara Mitchell (Leeds and York NHS Partnership Foundation Trust)
  • Lynn Counter (Cornwall Council)
  • Sarah Asprey (Devon County Council)
  • Elvis Jeramiah (Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Charlotte McFathing (Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust)

Adult social worker of the year

  • Bhavna Maher (Leicester City Council)
  • Clare Fisk (Suffolk County Council)
  • Jennifer Paddock (Gloucestershire County Council)
  • Karen Turner (Sunderland City Council)
  • Sally Adams (Salford Care Organisation, Northern Care Alliance NHS Group)
  • Deborah Solomon (Derbyshire County Council)

Children’s social worker of the year

  • Annmarie Nero (Achieving for Children)
  • Nathan Head (Durham County Council)
  • Bobbie Dean (Norfolk County Council)
  • Kathryn Vayro (Derby City Council)

Lifetime achievement award

  • Sarah Lowe
  • Tony Wright (Forward Assist)
  • Owen Garrod (Norfolk County Council)
  • Elizabeth Parry (Sunderland City Council)
  • Val Swan (Sunderland City Council)
  • Suzanne Brown (NAViGO)

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17 Responses to Social Worker of the Year Awards finalists unveiled

  1. Tahin September 7, 2022 at 7:58 am #

    We are all winners though! (repeated ad nauseum by all the great and the good who do know that this is just another manifestation of the elitism and hierarchies prelevant in social work.)

  2. Andrew McVee September 7, 2022 at 11:15 am #

    No candidates from Scotland or Northern Ireland then!?

    • Mithran Samuel September 7, 2022 at 8:29 pm #

      Hi Andrew,
      Sorry I should have pointed out the awards are England only. I’ve updated the article.

    • Maria September 9, 2022 at 8:10 pm #

      No candidates from Wales either!

  3. Kate September 8, 2022 at 8:47 am #

    Celebrating Social Work by telling social workers most of them are dullards amongst the brilliant few.

  4. Eb Offei September 8, 2022 at 12:13 pm #

    Go chester. I’m so pleased to see my alma mater University of Chester in the nominations. Great teaching staff.

  5. Beth September 12, 2022 at 8:01 am #

    I once worked with someone who was the ‘learning disability nurse of the year’. Lacked integrity!
    There are so many talented hard working social workers who will never be nominated.
    I came across one of the people who was involved with the awards a few years ago. What they had achieved was a lot of hot air.
    Enough said but congratulations to the finalists.

    • Izzy September 12, 2022 at 2:58 pm #

      Surely your experience is unique. Isn’t every achievement, every promotion, every award earned on merit in social work? I am confused.

  6. Gabbi September 12, 2022 at 4:18 pm #

    Here is a speech no one will make and the Social Justice Advocate of the Year will shy away from too as it would be impolite and no doubt inappropriate to suggest letting a sliver of real life enter into a ‘celbration’. “Just like most people are facing a cost of living crisis from which they will not be insulated, social work too faces it’s biggest crisis as it finds itself incapable of responding to experiences shaped by poverty and inequality. Just as capitalism, the cause of our current crisis, relies on making us constantly dissatisfied with our lives so we are corralled into the consumerist glitter hall that is Amazon for succor, social work has internalised the mantra that poverty is permanent and all social workers can do is alleviate some of the consequences for individual “service users”. So, rather than accept an award that apparently “recognises” my supposed individual qualities while shying away from uncomfortable realities outside of the ceremony, an event by the way which each year becomes a little bit more of an opportunity to virtue signal through “sponsorship”, I ask that every social worker in England be sent an apology for the money lavished for this which instead could have been spent on at least a single finger of Kit Kat as recognition for what we each do day in day out. Recognition for all of us. Otherwise claims of fighting for social justice, anti-racist activism, opposing discrimination and bigotry is just vacuous posturing. Social work should not be taking its cues from the Acadamy Awards. Our dissent deserve as much respect as should have been afforded Sacheen Littlefeather. In that spirit, I decline to validate this “award” even with the on behalf of all social workers platitude.”

    • Looking the other way September 23, 2022 at 8:46 pm #

      Too true Gabbi. I turned my back on this award glitzed pomp last year when it was clear the judging is biased and Wayne Reid was overlooked.

  7. Chloe September 13, 2022 at 10:58 am #

    Eloquently put Gabbi. The fingers in ears self selected role models basking in imagined excellence would rather not hear you though. Let the irrelevant celebrate irrelevance irrelevantly. Rest of us are content to be social workers without the reverie.

  8. Adi September 13, 2022 at 11:49 am #

    Every year we have the same negative comments unfortunately. I have news for all of you who diss these nominations though. We don’t live in an egalitarian society, for which I am grateful. People have different abilities. Some people are plodders, some are barely competent and a small elite group of exceptional people always emerges. They should be celebrated and awarded, indeed I suggest anyone winning a category here should get paid more to reflect their excellence. Don’t fall for these envy comments. I haven’t been nominated but I am not bitter. It just makes me more determined to do better so hopefully I am. This is how we raise standards. We need people who show us how.

  9. Frasierfanclub1 September 15, 2022 at 12:34 am #

    Instead of pitching dedicated professionals against each other, why not introduce police style Commendations?

    • Sally September 15, 2022 at 9:33 am #

      Because apparently cream always rises to the top, wealth showers down to plebs from the coffers of billionaires, the moon is made of cheese, Peppa Pig is an aspirational role model (said in a recent briefing by our PSW). Also as a “rights based profession committed to diversity that embraces equality” social work transcends mere Commendations. Validating worth starts by telling some that they aren’t worthy of being in the circle of excellence. Doesn’t it?

      • Craig September 16, 2022 at 9:49 am #

        How true. Actually the circle of excellence may just be in the imagination of the nominator and not necessarily the nominated. It may also be that the self promoted excellence is seen differently by those outside of the circle. I hope the buns are fresh at least. Any chance of being told if any one has actually ever declined a nomination?

        • AMHP September 16, 2022 at 7:01 pm #

          I work in Adult mental health. Our manager suggested we nominate one of our peers. When we told her we were going to she sent us on our way with a glorious tirade against indulging in elitist bull secretions which I wish I could repeat here. She cannot be the only one to decline.

  10. Anonymous September 29, 2022 at 8:26 am #

    I agree! Similarly, a lot of BAME staff will never be nominated or be recognised for their hard work, talent and skills. This list is proof of the lack of diversity and equality. Anti- discrimination and equality are buzz words but means nothing in reality when it comes to recognising BAME staff and their contribution to society and the difference they make. We all need to be aware of hidden racism and unconscious bias and combat it together.