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Northern Ireland social workers honoured

Social workers, social services teams and voluntary organisations were honoured at the Social Work Awards in Northern Ireland in June. The regional awards event featured two winners from the Belfast HSC Trust – its Regional HIV Social Work Team and Harry Murphy, a social worker with adults at the Beech Hall Day Centre.

The Regional HIV Social Work Team won its award for the efforts of its small group of social workers in providing emotional and practical support to families and children in Northern Ireland affected by HIV/Aids. Harry Murphy was honoured for 32 years of working “tirelessly in the delivery of day support services to disabled service users”.

Among other winners, Addiction NI’s Older Focus Team was recognised for its innovative work alongside people older people with alcohol and drugs problems. The citation stated: “Generally the focus is on younger people with addictions so the award recognises the importance of this work with older people.”

The Southern HSC Trust won a Partnership Team Award for its joint efforts with CAMHS in supporting the carers of looked after children. Figures for September 2011 showed there were 2,592 children in care in Northern Ireland, with 74% of these in foster care, placing a significant burden on the providers of foster placements which the initiative works to manage.

The Social Work Education Team Award went to the University of Ulster for its Service Users and Virtual World Learning programme, using service users and interactive tools in social work training.

Julie Armstrong, of the 16+ Pathway Team at the Western HSC Trust, won an individual award for her work with care leavers. The event heard: “Julie has stayed in contact with a lot of young people who have left care for many years later and been there to support them whatever the circumstances.”