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Follow your passion, says lifetime achievement in social work award winner

Carole Goodman, honoured at England's Social Worker of the Year Awards, on what's kept her motivated for four decades...

From left, award host Lorraine Pascale, Carole Goodman, BASW England national director Maris Stratulis and James Rook, CEO of Sanctuary Personnel
From left, award host Lorraine Pascale, Carole Goodman, BASW England national director Maris Stratulis and James Rook, CEO of Sanctuary Personnel

Professional Social Work magazine - 4 December, 2019

Finding out where your passion lies and following it is key to a long career in social work says Carole Goodman, honoured for lifetime achievement at the England Social Worker of the Year Awards.

For Carole, that has always been working with families. In a career spanning four decades, she started off working with disadvantaged children taking them on activities like abseiling. She became a trainee probation officer in the late 70s working with families separated through having a parent in prison. She helped set up the first Sure Start centres in the North East and worked in management roles for North Tyneside Council before joining Cafcass in 2008 and becoming its assistant director three years ago.

“The focus on families has been my passion and given me the buzz I have had throughout my career,” she says.

“I always loved working with families, seeing the resilience they have to survive crisis when they experience it, helping to reduce the impact on children when families separate.”

Despite reports of current hardships including increased child poverty Carole – who received the award sponsored by the British Association of Social Workers at a ceremony in London - says life has always been tough for some families.

“When I started in 1978, I worked in areas of Newcastle that were horrible places for people to live. Perhaps the challenges have changed today, but the difficulties families face have always been there. I can remember in my own extended family people struggling.”

In the latter part of her career with Cafcass, Carole has focused on finding innovative solutions to improving practice and achieve better outcomes for families.

“I still feel I can make a difference. Through the things we do to innovate and create we can see the impact and the opportunities it gives families.”

Carole was described as a “caring, compassionate and approachable leader” at the awards. A testimonial from a colleague said she “typifies the ‘no-nonsense’ approach to working. She provides unwavering support for her team and the people she works with and has a knack for persuading people to think in new and bold ways”.

Carole says being around colleagues who share her passion to improve things for families inspires her to keep going.

“It’s good working with a group of people looking for a solution to something. At Cafcass it has been looking at how we can make the experience children and families go through when separated less painful and adversarial and have better outcomes for children.”

Being a leader in social work is about listening to people, says Carole, and taking those who want to go on the journey with you “in a way that they really sign up to it”.

“They are people with their own life experiences and it is very important to show interest. You also have to be directive and the decision maker. It is knowing how to balance that.”

Carole says the biggest challenge over the years has been managing her career with her personal life and family expectations.

Her advice to the next generation of social workers is clear: “Identify what it is you are passionate about in social work and follow that route. We have good opportunities to try different things so find out what it is that gets you excited and motivated.”

Social Worker of the Year winners

Mental health social worker of the year

Thea Radburn, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

Silver awards: Jessica Jones, Norfolk County Council; Ingrid Richardson, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust

Making a difference award

Sarah Frances, Bramley Health

Silver award: Denise Smalley, PAC-UK

Student social worker of the year

Mary Carter, Anglia Ruskin University

Silver award: Elizabeth Dodd, University of Salford

Practice educator of the year

Djamila Aggabi, London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Silver award: Shelley Gill, Durham Council

Creative and innovative social work practice

Futures Service, Leeds City Council

Silver award: Devon Prisons ASC Team, Devon County Council

Social work employer of year

Leeds City Council children’s services

Silver award: Suffolk County Council children’s services

Team leader of the year, adult services

Jack Skinner, Bradford Council

Silver award: Annika Leland-Bolton, Doncaster Council

Team leader of the year, children’s services

Louise Pashley, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Silver award: Hannah Gregory, Gloucestershire County Council

Team of the year, adult services

ASC west locality team 3, Leicester City Council

Silver award: West Devon community health and social care team, Devon County Council/Livewell Southwest

Team of the year, children’s services

Family group conference plus team, including lifelong links, Devon County Council

Silver award: Hillingdon adolescents team, London Borough of Hillingdon

Newly qualified adult social worker of the year

Ella Waughman, Cambridge County Council

Silver award: Hannah Creasy, Livewell Southwest

Newly qualified children’s social worker of the year

Dan Grimes, Cambridgeshire County Council

Silver award: Penny McGee, London Borough of Islington

Adult social worker of the year

Teresa Barrett, Livewell Southwest

Silver award: Maxine Thurston, Norfolk County Council

Children’s social worker of the year

Joanne Worley, Essex County Council

Silver award: Caroline Heyworth, Essex County Council

Championing social work values

Emma Cox, Central Bedfordshire Council

Silver award: Miranda Lynn Johnson, Birmingham City Council

Lifetime achievement award

Carole Goodman, Cafcass

Silver award: Chris Denovan, Somerset Council

Outstanding contribution to social work

Lyn Romeo, Department of Health and Social Care

Overall social worker of the year

Louise Pashley, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council