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MBE winner wants to see social work awards on the telly

BASW member and founder of England's Social Worker of the Year Awards Beverley Williams revealed her ambition to see the annual ceremony broadcast on primetime TV.

Beverley (pictured right), who launched the ceremony in 2006 two years after becoming a social worker, was made a MBE in the New Year's Honours list.

“I found morale to be low among social workers during my first two years because of the amount of negative publicity,” she said.

“I came into social work as a foster carer so the profession was something very close to my heart.

“I knew they did a good job but the media weren’t able to publicise the families we work with and the changes we make to people’s lives every day.”

Beverley single-handedly ran the awards for the first five years which saw it grow in strength. Last year’s event at London’s prestigious Lancaster Hotel was attended by 340 guests including the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan and England’s Chief Social Worker for Children and Families Isabelle Trowler.

Such has been the success of the awards that it has even attracted interest from Australia where a similar scheme has now been set up.

Today, with sponsorship from Sanctuary Social Care, BASW and the College of Social Work, Beverley’s ambition of seeing the ceremony televised in the same way as the annual Teaching Awards may not seem so far-fetched.

Currently working in child protection with Peterborough City Council, she feels there is a growing sense of pride within the profession.

“People feel they are being recognised now. When I go to the award ceremony it brings tears to my eyes to see grown men cry with joy as they collect a certificate.

“We have seen a change in social work – I have worked across lots of local authorities and you can feel it. There is a different sense of people belonging and taking pride in being a social worker. That is what I wanted people to feel.”

Beverley believes there is greater appreciation of social work in the public too compared to when she started.

“I can go into homes now and the reception I am receiving is not one of hostility, but one of respect.

“That is because we have done a lot of work in changing the way we deal with clients and how we work with other professionals.”

With a reception in Parliament and a trip to Buckingham Palace in the pipeline, Beverley is promoting her profession in high places. But ultimately, her biggest reward is in doing the day-to-day job of social work, she says.

“I love helping people make changes for the better and seeing those changes. I love meeting families and engaging with children and parents. It’s the satisfaction you get coming away and thinking ‘I have made a change to that family’ and being able to close the case.

“You never have the same day. One phone call can change everything. It’s a challenging job – and I love a challenge.”


Also honoured:


  • Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, commissioner for children and young people in Northern Ireland
  • Professor Bill Whyte, University of Edinburgh
  • Uma Mehta, chief community services lawyer at Islington Borough Council
  • Alan Eccles, barrister
  • Dr Anna Van Der Gaag, chair of the Health and Care Professions Council
  • Dr Alice Maynard, former chair of Scope



  • Tamsin Baldwin and Rachel Wakeman, founders of Imara
  • Stephanie Brivio, assistant director for child protection at the Department for Education
  • Dr John Simmonds, director of policy research and development at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering
  • Margaret Willcox, commissioning director for adult social care at Gloucestershire County Council


  • Roma Charlton, chief executive officer for After Adoption
  • Joseph Cuddy, former border force officer Gatwick Airport
  • Shabana Abasi, head of service for Cafcass in Greater Manchester
  •  Lynda Rowbotham, head of legal at Mencap
  • Rene Rigby, a development officer at Scottish Care

British Empire Medal (BEM)

  • Yvonne Ramsay, member of Kinsfolk Carers for services to kinship care families in Edinburgh

Dames and Knighthoods

  • Joyce Plotnikoff and Esther Rantzen were made Dames while Professor Julian Le Grand was knighted for services to social science and public services