by Claire Winter, Deputy Director for Children and Families at Somerset County Council
We applaud the #StandUp4SW campaign in its important role of sharing the inspiring work done every day by social workers.
To contribute, we have tried to make our own social workers feel valued and to improve the public’s perception of social work.
Most recently, we introduced an award for the council’s annual staff awards which recognises the extraordinary work that our children’s social care staff do.
We asked the children and young people we work with to tell us if they thought their social worker or leaving care worker deserved an award and why. We received over 60 heartfelt nominations, which was a tribute to the strong relationships workers have developed with children and young people.
Our social worker winners have spoken of the value of receiving something back for the work they do. Gregg, winner of the internal social worker of the year award, said: “You deal with long nights, challenging parents, difficult children and you know that you are dealing with people who have a lot of trauma, upset and anger in their lives. So to receive something back from that, it is amazing to hear what an effect you have on people.”
Linda, the winner of the Leaving Care Worker of the Year Award, said: “I would accept this award on behalf of my whole team, because I know that everybody in the Leaving Care Teams across the county go the extra mile for the young people they work with.”
Our monthly children’s social care newsletter, Communic8, has a monthly column for celebrating good practice. This feature allows members of staff to nominate their colleagues for an award for any work with children or young people that they think deserves some recognition. We started this feature in July 2015 and already 44 members of Children’s Social Care staff have been nominated. Every month more and more nominations are made, as staff recognise the importance of celebrating their colleagues’ achievements.
The impact of these schemes is clear when speaking to frontline social workers. Zoe is a newly qualified social worker and was also nominated for the recent internal Social Worker of the Year Award. She said: “I feel that it is really important for the council to celebrate social work given the continuous lack of recognition within the media. I feel that the emotional impact of the work that social workers do on a day to day basis is often unrecognised, yet needs to be congratulated, especially when working with children and families in crisis.”
“Being nominated for the [Somerset] Social Worker of the Year Award has personally increased my confidence and has made me recognise the value of the relationships I have built with young people since starting. I was completely shocked to have been nominated by two young people given the short period of time which I had worked with them – but it meant the world! Within the team I feel that these nominations have boosted morale and reminded many workers of the reasons we went into social work – because we care and want to help children and young people.”
We now set great store by really “looking after our own” and regularly share their achievements and those of new staff who join us.