The first Frontline Awards took place in London last night, celebrating the achievements of children and families social workers and young people with lived experience of services across England.
Winners were announced across six categories in the inaugural awards held by the social care charity.
Portsmouth council restorative social worker Arthur Scott jointly won the practice award which recognised excellence in frontline social work. Of Arthur, the judges said: “This winner has some of the qualities that make a great social worker – being committed, a good listener and communicator and always being true to their word.”
Arthur shared the award with Josie, an advanced practitioner from Solihull. Josie, was nominated by a colleague, Sarah, who said: “Your passion and drive to work with families in a different way and to support them to have a voice on a daily basis can be seen so clearly in the feedback we receive from families.”
‘I love being a social worker’
Charmaine Malcolm, principal social worker for the London Borough of Bromley, won the leadership award, on the basis of her work in anti-racist practice, creativity as a leader and the way she supports her teams.
She said: “I was shocked, you’re just doing your day-to-day job. I love being a social worker, it’s the only job I can see myself doing. It was a nice surprise.”
Among two winners of the innovation award was Tooba Malik from Thrive Social Work, in recognition of a productivity and wellbeing app for social workers that she developed after becoming burnt out from her role in child protection.
“From a seed of an idea it became a fully fledged tool that social workers can use today,” she said.
Frontline funded the development of the Thrive app through its innovation programme, which supports ideas developed by its fellows – those who have been through any of its training programmes.
Tooba shared the award with Blackpool council children’s services for their Blackpool Families Rock practice model, a strengths-based approach that was co-designed with children and families in the town.
The team of the year award went to the family group conference team from Darlington council, which was recognised for its family-focused approach and success in returning children to their families from care.
Faith Hirst, advanced practitioner in the team, said: “We enable our families to understand that we genuinely and truthfully want to empower them with the decisions they make. We have to see families as experts in their own lives. We are really thrilled to win team of the year award.”
Care-experienced trio praised
Three care-experienced young people, Amir Arian, Cameron Draisey and Paris Grantham-Buchanan, were selected from the shortlist as winners of the award for young people.
Paris, 19, from Coventry, was recognised for her work developing hampers for care leavers when moving into their first homes.
She said going from being a child to an adult could be really difficult and she was happy to help others go through that process. When asked how she felt about winning, she said: “Nervous and excited, a mix of emotions.”
Cameron, 24, was praised for his work for Wiltshire children’s services in amplifying the voices of care-experienced young people. Accompanying him was his foster mum, who said, “pride is not a big enough word to describe how I feel”.
Amir was not able to make the awards ceremony as he was studying for exams in medical genetics. He was nominated by the charity Become for the work he has done with them, including in training 30 personal advisers across five leaving care teams.
Addressing Amir, Become’s training and development manager, Katy Hudson, said: “You’re such a strong and willing advocate for young people in care, for care leavers and young asylum seekers. We’re absolutely thrilled that you’ve won this award.”
The fellowship award – open to social workers who have gone through any of Frontline’s training programmes – went to Oyeyinka Olaniran from the London Borough of Bexley, in recognition of his commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice.
‘A celebration of social workers’
Frontline set up the awards scheme – covering statutory practice with children and families in England – to mark its 10th anniversary this year. It is designed to complement the Social Worker of the Year Awards, which covers practice in all areas of social work and whose 2023 winners will be announced towards the end of the year.
Mary Jackson, CEO of Frontline, said: “Tonight’s event celebrates social workers, and it celebrates that power of social work. It celebrates the big changes – the children returned to their families, the lives that are turned around; but it also celebrates the small ones – being that trusted, friendly visitor in school, or building relationships with everyone in the family. Those small changes add up to make
the big ones.”
You can read more about the other nominations and winners on the Frontline website.