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Wales celebrates social work success in Cardiff

Two social workers with a combined seven decades of experience in practice were among the big winners at the BASW Cymru Social Work Awards 2011. Patricia Griffiths was presented with the Practice Teacher Award for her work in hospital and community-based practice over a 35-year career, while Karen Phillips picked up the Spirit of Social Work Award for her 37 years supporting disabled adults.

Aled Roberts, a Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly, praised Ms Phillips’ “tireless dedication” in her work for Wrexham Borough Council and in wider community. Patricia Griffiths received her award from another Assembly member, Lindsay Whittle, Plaid Cymru, who thanked her “for the often unrecognised work you do throughout the community”. Samantha Francis, a specialist in autism and family relations therapy, won the Innovative Practice Award, presented by Julie Morgan, a Labour AM. In addition to her work with Newport County Council, Samantha works with parents as part of a National Autistic Society initiative, help! 2, offering practical support to make family life more manageable when dealing with challenging behaviour.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to a youth justice social worker and former BASW Cymru chair, Nick Lovell, who has also worked hard to highlight concerns over the support on offer to overseas trained social workers.

The social workers received the awards at a ceremony held in the Senedd in Cardiff on 28 September. Keith Drury, BASW Cymru chair said: “Social workers have for so long been misrepresented by the media, who only ever seem interested in isolated examples of bad practice. The people honoured this evening are representative of the enormous amount of excellent work that is carried out every day.”

Mark Drakeford, another Labour AM, introduced the ceremony and emphasised the purpose of awards in recognising unsung workers. “For every person here this evening, it is important to remember that there are social workers across Wales whose daily work goes unremarked and unrewarded. We welcome these awards and the ongoing input of BASW into the Social Care Bill – your influence is increasingly felt in discussions and debates and we hope that this continues.” The Awards were concluded by BASW Cymru manager Robin Moulster who looked forward to “even bigger and better” awards next year and highlighted the Association’s record membership levels in Wales.