Seventeen inspiring social workers, teams and organisations have been honoured for their outstanding achievements and described as ‘ambassadors for the profession’ after they took home top prizes at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards.
The ceremony, which took place on Friday 30th November at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, was hosted by BBC News reporter and care leaver Ashley John-Baptiste.
Awards were presented in a variety of categories across both children’s and adult services, including prizes for Social Worker of the Year, Team of the Year, Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice and Lifetime Achievement. A new award was also introduced to recognise social workers employed outside of local authority settings.
Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults (England), gave a keynote speech on the evening and endorsements were provided by The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education; Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Children and Families; Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Care; and Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families.
Zoe Williamson, a mental health social worker from Northumbria NHS Healthcare Foundation Trust / Northumberland County Council, was named Overall Social Worker of the Year after winning the award for Mental Health Social Worker of the Year earlier in the evening. The Overall Social Worker of the Year Award is selected from the gold winners of each category by the Board of Trustees of the Social Work Awards, the registered charity behind the annual event.
The judges commended Zoe for her care, compassion and positive focus, whilst her nomination illustrated the hugely positive impact she has had on people living with mental illness in a largely rural part of Northumberland.
James Rook, Managing Director of Headline Sponsor Sanctuary Social Care, said: “Zoe was a clear choice for the Overall Social Worker of the Year award. She has all the attributes that make an excellent social worker and has clearly made a considerable difference to the lives of people with mental health difficulties. She has achieved remarkable success and is truly an asset to her organisation.”
Anthony Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of Cafcass, was also honoured with an Outstanding Contribution award, recognising his significant contribution to the profession over a 43-year career.
Peter Hay CBE, Chair of the Social Work Awards, said: “The Social Worker of the Year Awards get bigger and better every year and this year over 450 people attended the ceremony, which was a fantastic celebration of the social work profession. Being recognised on a national scale is an outstanding achievement not just for our winners but for all of our 93 finalists and I’d like to personally congratulate each of them, they should be extremely proud of their achievements.”
Each of the gold award winners will now be invited to attend an exclusive Parliamentary Reception which will be held at the Palace of Westminster in the spring. The reception will be their opportunity to celebrate their achievements with representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Education.
The Social Worker of the Year Awards were founded in 2006 by independent practitioner, Beverley Williams MBE, with the aim of improving the understanding and reputation of the profession.
The awards are supported by Headline Sponsor Sanctuary Social Care; Corporate Partner the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), Media Partner The Guardian Jobs, and individual category supporters, Barnardo’s, UNISON, Servelec, Children’s Social Work Matters and the London Borough of Lambeth. The awards are also supported by the local authorities of North Lincolnshire, Bradford, Devon, Kent, Sunderland, Hampshire and Essex as well as the Tees Valley Local Authority Child and Adult Services.
The 2018 gold winners are:
Children’s Social Worker of the Year: Chris Dyas, NSPCC
Adult Social Worker of the Year: Jennifer Staude, Westminster City Council / Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Newly Qualified Children’s Social Worker of the Year: Jessica Raper, East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Newly Qualified Adult Social Worker of the Year: Rebecca Payne, Gloucestershire County Council
Practice Educator of the Year: Karen Maude, Bradford College
Student Social Worker of the Year: Sian Miljkovic, University of Bedfordshire
Making a Difference: Wendy Ashton, Eden Valley Hospice
Championing Social Work Values: Social Workers Without Borders
Mental Health Social Worker of the Year: Zoe Williamson, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Northumberland County Council
Team of the Year, Children’s Services: Case Management Team, North Lincolnshire Council
Team of the Year, Adult Services: Integrated Community Services Team, Shropshire Council
Team Leader of the Year, Children’s Services: Jenny Slee, North Somerset Council / Adoption West
Team Leader of the Year, Adult Services: Jane Haywood, Derby City Council
Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice: People From Abroad Team. Norfolk County Council
Best Social Work Employer of the Year: Essex County Council
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Smith, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Outstanding Contribution to Social Work: Anthony Douglas CBE
Overall Social Worker of the Year: Zoe Williamson, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Northumberland County Council