The winners of the 2017 Social Worker of the Year Awards were revealed at a glittering awards ceremony in London on the 24th November. Entries for next year's awards will open in March 2018.

Bianka Lang, Essex County Council

Team Leader of the Year, Children's Services

 

 

Bianka’s colleagues describe her as representing the benchmark against which all other managers should be measured. Her success in this this category is founded on virtues – calmness, leading by example, making time for others – that may sound uncomplicated but are crucial when it comes to building successful teams in high-pressure environments.

 

After 12 years in the Chelmsford assessment and intervention team, which she’s managed since 2013, Bianka certainly knows her own working environment well. Though she no longer carries a caseload, she’s always willing to support others by attending visits and meetings – in doing so benefiting her own understanding of cases and offering service users the option of talking through concerns with a manager.

 

Bianka has also helped her staff develop through a variety of routes, including encouraging them to go on secondments in order to better understand how other teams operate. She has fostered the development of individual specialisms – housing and benefits, for example – creating a pool of knowledge within the team.

While staff who work with Bianka are therefore well-equipped for career progression, it’s notable that turnover in her team is low. No wonder one of the judges commented: “I’d love to give her a job.”

 

What was said about Bianka:

The role of first line manager is so critical. It’s a difficult role which needs a sense of calm and Bianka does this really well. She takes on really difficult situations, often working into the night, and never makes people feel like they’re on their own. Good social work flourishes in the environment she has created.” Sherry Malik, Director of Children’s Services, Development and Delivery, NSPCC

 

Bianka provides a safe environment which gives her team the freedom to be a bit more creative.” Val Floy, Chief Operating Officer, The Children’s Society

 

She has created a very secure, safe feeling team around her. That is a skill that feels invaluable and I feel very lucky to be part of that. In a very stressful and volatile job at times, Bianka is a sea of calm that brings us all back down – and I don’t know where we would be without her!’ Team Member

 

She has been a wonderful support to me in my first tentative steps as a Service Manager. I had never realised how much lies beneath that quiet exterior and have been pleasantly surprised by her depth of knowledge, professionalism and commitment to the team and the families we support.” Gaye Coyle, Service Manager

 

Judges:

  • Emma Blakemore, Skylakes Social Work
  • Maureen Roscoe-Goulson, Team Leader of the Year Children's Services Award Winner 2015
  • Sherry Malik, NSPCC
  • Val Floy, The Children's Society

 

Finalists:

  • Bianka Lang, Essex County Council - GOLD AWARD WINNER
  • Jean Beynon, Devon County Council
  • Juanita Scallan, Devon County Council
  • Karen Green, Worcestershire County Council
  • Michelle Evans, Cafcass - SILVER AWARD WINNER