Social workers honoured in BASW Cymru Awards
The unsung heroes of the “best profession in the world” were celebrated at BASW Cymru’s annual Social Work Award ceremony, held at the Welsh National Assembly.
More than 250 guests, including social workers, their family and friends, fellow professionals and politicians, attended the event on 2 October to pay tribute to examples of excellence in the field.
The evening saw Denbighshire social worker Gwen Prysor pick up The Practice Teaching Award, Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Stephen Taylor receive The Spirit of Social Work Award, and West Wales practitioners Marj Hawkins and Louise England walk away with The Innovative Social Work Award [see full list of winners and nominees below].
Gordon Jones, a retired Head of Adult Services for Bridgend and one time bus driver, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr Catherine Poulter was similarly honoured, in part for her social work and management roles in local authorities across South and West Wales. Sheila Hughes was the third recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Regarded as a “champion for social work” by colleagues, Sheila was cited as having made a huge contribution to ensuring the cultural needs of the Welsh population are taken into account in the social work profession.
Held in the grand setting of the National Assembly’s Senedd building overlooking Cardiff Bay, the awards event saw Welsh Assembly members pledge their support for the profession.
Chair of BASW Cymru Keith Drury said the ceremony, now in its third year, was a celebration of the “greatness that is social work” that had grown from strength to strength.
"When the idea of developing the Social Work Awards for BASW Cymru was presented three years ago, we never envisaged just how successful it would become,” he said.
“In year one, when it was launched here at the Senedd it attracted only a handful of people; then last year the numbers increased and this year was a great surprise with more than 250 in attendance.”
Paying tribute to social workers, he said: “Many of you here tonight who are social workers work tirelessly and in often challenging and difficult situations, advocating on behalf of service users, young people and carers, intervening when they are at their most vulnerable and at risk.
“It is social workers who deserve our praise and thanks tonight. Whether you are an award nominee or not, we want you to be proud of your profession and of the great work you undertake in your communities.
BASW’s acting chief executive Bridget Robb also attended the ceremony, telling the audience: “We can get so locked into our own concerns and issues we lose sight of the fact that we are a universal profession and we have so much to share – so much excitement and passion to gain from our colleagues.”
Ann Jones, Labour Assembly Member for the Vale of Cwyd and sponsor of the event, said the Welsh Assembly had been keen to show its support for social work. “This is our opportunity to say thank you and show our support for years to come. Yours is a very difficult role in which you try and help the most vulnerable and desperate individuals in our community.
“This is about recognising achievement. Not just for those special few honoured today but for the thousands of your colleagues and social workers throughout the country who day in day out improve lives.”
Darren Millar, Conservative Assembly member for Clywd West and Welsh shadow minister for health, also offered support for the social work profession: “Unfortunately, so often when we hear about social work it is with a bad news story. The work of social workers is often overlooked and this is a great opportunity to celebrate it.”
With the light fading across a windswept Cardiff Bay outside the Senedd building, the last words of the evening went to Robin Moulster, manager of BASW Cymru: “The real winner is the social work profession in Wales. These awards are not only about rewarding a few people but recognising the thousands of social workers across our land who support, enable and develop the most vulnerable people in our society.
“We must continue to work together to further improve outcomes for the people of Wales and BASW Cymru is committed to this priority.”