BASW England becomes headline sponsor of Social Worker of the Year Awards

Association takes over from recruitment consultancy Sanctuary, which had been headline sponsor of the awards since their relaunch in 2011

Social Worker of the Year Awards trophies
Photo by Social Worker of the Year Awards

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) England has become the headline sponsor of the Social Worker of the Year Awards for the next three years.

BASW England takes over from recruitment consultancy Sanctuary, which had been headline sponsor since the awards were relaunched in 2011 under charity the Social Work Awards Ltd and sponsored the previous version of the scheme in 2010. Also, Sanctuary’s chief executive, James Rook, was a trustee for the awards charity from 2011 to 2021.

But the recruitment consultancy’s latest agreement as headline sponsor came to an end on 31 March 2024, so the Social Work Awards took expressions of interest for the position from other organisations.

The awards’ 2023 sponsorship pack outlined terms for the headline sponsor, which includes sponsoring the overall social worker of the year award and one additional category, along with publicity on the awards website and other publications and communications, in return for a £22,000 contribution.

The Social Work Awards said the majority of these terms still applied.

BASW England has a long association with the awards having also been involved in its 2011 relaunch and been its corporate sponsor – the second tier of sponsorship under the scheme – for many years.

The awards charity’s chair of trustees, Peter Hay, said it was “delighted” to expand its long-term relationship with BASW England, saying that the professional body “shares our value of encouraging a culture of reward and recognition in the sector”.

“BASW will support the charity with our aims of promoting best practice, celebrating success, improving public understanding of social work and promoting diversity and equal opportunities in social work,” he added.

Vava Tampa, chair, British Association of Social Workers England

BASW England chair Vava Tampa

BASW England chair Vava Tampa said it was “thrilled” to become the awards’ headline sponsor.

“This is a unique and important opportunity to showcase and celebrate the exceptional work of social workers and the very positive impact they make,” he added. “The awards are also key in building wider positive understanding of the profession and an inspiration for the next generation of social workers.”

The 2024 awards opened for entries last week, with 18 categories up for grabs, including a new award for practitioner-led research. Entries are open until 12pm on 3 June 2024.


11 Responses to BASW England becomes headline sponsor of Social Worker of the Year Awards

  1. Christian Kerr April 15, 2024 at 7:30 pm #

    Interesting development but unclear from article whether Sanctuary will still be involved with the Awards in any capacity – can Community Care clarify?

    • Mithran Samuel April 16, 2024 at 9:30 am #

      Thanks Christian. We don’t know as yet. Sanctuary is not on the board of trustees anymore so it will depend on whether it ends up being a sponsor, which we should know soon, I think.

  2. Tahin April 16, 2024 at 8:45 am #

    Vava Tampa should desist from using the plural to deflect from the usual elitist charlatanism that underpins this ‘award’. It’s called “Social Worker of the Year” isn’t it? A shindig with bad canapes it most certainly is but it doesn’t “celebrate the exceptional work of social workers”. It is the embarrassment which singles out the worth, singular, from the rest of the chuff, plural. That’s it.

  3. Ray Jones April 16, 2024 at 10:53 am #

    This has given me a big smile this morning. Thank you to BASW and to the SWOTY charity trustees. So much more appropriate that BASW should be the major sponsor for the SWOTY awards as the professional association for social workers, and that a company whose primary interest is to make and take big profits from social work and social workers, and pay big salaries to its directors, is no longer able to promote and publicise itself as the SWOTY major sponsor. It is a view I held when I chaired of the Awards, and which in large part led to me standing down as chair. It was an arrangement I inherited and it is a sadness that I was not able to achieve this change with the then trustees, who included the managing director of Sanctuary. And thank you to Christian Kerr and others who have consistently expressed their unease and disquiet about the central involvement and influence of a private company getting such a profile through the Awards.

    • Tahin April 16, 2024 at 1:29 pm #

      BASW, Sanctuary, Sugar Plum Fairy, Cheshire Cat, it really doesn’t matter who sponsors this. It’s a divisive, elitist endeavour. It tells us individuals matter more than systems, bad management, lack of resources, that the not nominated and the not anointed are mediocre for not having the abilities and skills to be special. In the most hypocritical self reverential social worker jargon infused language to boot. Time was we believed in solidarity and in our own ability as groups of social workers to validate ourselves, be self critical, be joyful, be conscious of who were the forces undermining our sense of shared values and commitment to do our best in the communities we worked in. No celebration from me, disgust and disappointment instead. Every year.

  4. Lynn April 17, 2024 at 10:42 am #

    A ‘leadership’ which virtues itself as anti- establishment and pro human rights anti-racists while enthusiastically embracing the MBE crumbs from the top table is ofcourse comfortable telling the many they are failures and the few they are in the elite club by being an ‘award’ recipient. We are practicing social work perhaps in historically the worst crisis our profession is in. It says much about the impotence and lack of professional vision of our ‘leaders’ that a change of sponsor for an ‘award’ most social workers I know care little for or see as an irrelevance, is deemed worth celebrating. BASW isn’t the professional association for social workers. Most social workers aren’t BASW members and substantial numbers of BASW members aren’t practicing social workers. High vacancy rates, exploitation of overseas recruited staff, low morale, cynicism, mistrust of management, embedded authoritarianism, bullying, discrimination and racism, intolerance of autonomy, reliance on technology, faddism, inadequate supervision, budget rather than values driven care, no meaningful training, atomisation and more. Who are the geniuses that pick the “best” of us from that reality?

  5. Chris Jones April 17, 2024 at 1:43 pm #

    “Most social workers aren’t BASW members and substantial numbers of BASW members aren’t practicing social workers” needs to be added to every article from BASW or mentions them. BASW is a subscription chasing, establishment approval seeking bureaucratic endeavour. Nothing wrong with that perhaps. But at a time when radical appraisal of why social work is a mess that leaves workers demoralised and can’t meet the needs of service users, Lynn and Tahin reflect that reality more honestly than anything BASW peddles. The day after the euphoria of selecting the chosen one as Social Worker of the Year those problems will still be there. Not in my name as they say. Leaving in June and coming off the Register so my full name without fear of victimisation. Which is an indictment of the toxicity the “celebration” won’t address.

  6. Serena April 17, 2024 at 2:51 pm #

    I’m sure Tahin, Lynn, and Chris make valid points but could we just be allowed to enjoy getting some recognition please. Everyone outside of social work are constantly super critical of us so let us have some pats on the back please. I’m sure whoever wins will served to have been chosen. Thank you.

  7. elaine April 19, 2024 at 3:00 pm #

    Really sad people can’t just be pleasant and realise the awards are about recognising social workers and the profession. I commend those that gave their time and energy to give social work some positive column inches. It seams some people just like being rude about other people and organisations online, it would be a real worry if the people with previous mean and cynical comments were actually social workers.

    • Tahin April 19, 2024 at 4:12 pm #

      I am a social worker into my 32 year post qualification. I stand by everything I say about organisations and tokenistic ‘valuing’ of social workers. By dint of it’s title this distinguishes between an arbitrarily determined excellence in an individual social worker and/or team and the rest of the plodders. That’s the point. If you are a better social worker than me, by whatever criteria we are not really told of that makes for excellence and are singled out be acclaimed publicly, that says I’m not good enough and remain a mediocrity. No social worker, no team achieves whatever is deemed to be over and above by their own brilliance. None of us can do our job without colleagues helping us. That’s the other point. There’s nothing rude about reflecting on and sharing views that do not conform to the orthodoxy that glosses over the real challenges we face. That’s not cynicism, that’s the reality of underfunded services, vacancies, unmanageable workloads. The cynicism is in trying to denigrate those of us who acknowledge those realities. My validation comes from the occasional thank you from a service user and the daily concern for my welfare from my colleagues. Nothing mean about saying that.

    • Robert April 20, 2024 at 10:00 am #

      Personally I think there is room for celebrating. That doesn’t mean I accept the claims made for this award by the organisers. Social workers who see it as elitist are maybe overly critical but aren’t necessarily wrong. What were the social work values that sat easy with a private recruitment company luring permanent workers into agency work? What compromises made it easy to be a bedfellow with a company that sucked out enormous amounts of money from our services? It’s not cynical to highlight that, even Ray Jones has. For most of us BASW is an irrelevant body. I do not know one member in an office of 19 staff. Nothing wrong or rude about saying that either. So I want a celebration of what is best in social work and is excellent in a social worker. We can’t escape from elitism however much we pretend ours is an inclusive and egalitarian profession. It isn’t. So let’s have a celebration but on our terms not for publicity and headlines for BASW or the inevitable ‘inspirational’ speech by Leaders. So I think Elaine makes a valid point as do Tahin, Chris and Lynn. I’ve been to one of these and the catering is awful, perhaps we can all just agree on that.