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Winners announced in first UK-wide awards for social work reporting

BASW Social Work Journalism Awards 2023 held at annual conference

Winners celebrate at the inaugural ceremony

Published by PSW Magazine, 15 June 2023

The winners of the first ever UK-wide journalism awards featuring social work were announced this week.

The BASW Social Work Journalism Awards were launched this year to celebrate creative, informed and sensitive reporting that demonstrates an outstanding understanding of the profession.

The awards are part of a wider campaign by BASW and the Social Workers Union to improve the public’s perception of social work. Entries and nominations were sought across six categories covering mainstream print and broadcast, and trade journalism.

Finalists attended a special awards reception at BASW’s annual conference in Birmingham on 13 June. Two additional awards were presented on the night for outstanding contribution to journalism featuring social work.

Winners celebrate

Picking up the top prize in the mainstream print news category was Richard Youle, for an article for Wales Online highlighting the millions of pounds spent on agency social workers as Welsh councils struggle to retain and recruit staff in face of surging demand for services.

Richard said: “'I was very surprised to find out I'd been nominated, and then chuffed to win my category. Hopefully the awards will encourage more reporting on this subject and help people appreciate the scope of what social workers do.”

Winner of the in-depth feature reporting in print media category was Anoosh Chakelian for an extended feature in the New Statesman that heard first hand from frontline practitioners on the challenges of the job in the wake of high profile child deaths.

Anoosh said: “I'm delighted to win this award for my article Britain’s Lost Children and I’m incredibly grateful to the panel for setting up such a vital new set of awards. It's wonderful to have such recognition for journalism that can often be challenging to pursue and overlooked, as social work itself so often is.”

Lucy Kapasi won the broadcast media news category for her ‘day in the life’ piece which followed Birmingham social workers going about their jobs following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, on ITV Central.

Lucy said: "The way we protect our children is under intense scrutiny. Yet I couldn't remember seeing a TV news feature that heard from social workers in any depth or went behind the scenes to see what they do day to day.

"This kind of report can be difficult to get off the ground. Councils tend to be nervous to let journalists in so I applaud Birmingham Children's Trust for agreeing to give our cameras exclusive access to three of its social workers in child protection over two full days.
"Thank you very much for the award. I hope this kind of journalism and the awards themselves help persuade local authorities of the benefits of being more open with the media."

The joint winners in the broadcast in-depth feature category were Terri White, for ‘Finding Britain’s Ghost Children,’ a podcast broadcast on Radio 5 Live and Ben Robinson, on how the cost of living crisis is forcing families into poverty and children into care, on Radio 4’s File on 4.

Dan Maudsley, senior producer on Finding Britain's Ghost Children, commented: "We are immensely proud of this podcast. We tackled many difficult issues but one that became abundantly clear during the making of the series was just how unfairly social work has been portrayed across the media.

“It's thanks to the team at 5 Live, and to Terri's bravery in confronting some of her own views, that we were able to redress some of that balance. For us to be nominated by BASW members and for our work to be recognised in this way is a real honour."

Jessica Hill won the trade press news award for an investigation into ‘unscrupulous’ tactics used by children’s social care agencies to recruit social workers, in the Local Government Chronicle

She said: "The voices and dedication of social workers themselves are too often forgotten in the race by journalists to tell a news story of child neglect, and this has damaging consequences in making social workers feel less valued and more likely to quit the profession.

“It was really humbling to win the award.”

The in-depth trade press feature award went to Sharmeen Ziauddin, for an interview with a palliative care social worker, in Community Care.

She said: “I feel very proud to have won this award. I wrote about palliative care social work as part of a series of features about social work in unusual settings.

"I felt little is known about some of the more specialist work that goes on in the sector. The social workers I spoke to gave me a completely different perspective on end-of-life care. They also gave me a wonderful insight into the huge breadth of work social workers do.”

Outstanding contribution awards

The two winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism Featuring Social Work award were Alison Holt, the BBC’s social affairs editor, and Mithran Samuel, editor of Community Care.

Alison’s award was in recognition of a long and distinguished career sensitively reporting on social work and social work-related issues and she said: “I’m thrilled to have received this award. The stories I report on are about the way we live and the impact of changing policies on people.

"Often this is the territory where social workers spend their lives trying to make a difference. Hopefully the new awards will encourage more understanding of and reporting about these really important issues.”

Mithran’s award was for consistent reporting on the social work profession in a clear and balanced way to a specialist audience.

He said: “Many congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted nominees for their excellent work highlighting the complexities, challenges and successes that constitute social work. It’s an honour to be recognised alongside these talented journalists and by BASW. The awards are an excellent initiative and I have no doubt they will go from strength to strength and promote much more high-quality journalism about social work in the future.”

'Honest and insightful coverage'

Speaking on the night, Dr Ruth Allen, chief executive of BASW, said all those awarded had “helped shed light on the complexity of our profession.”

“Social workers often question why they are not perceived by the public as positively as other public sector professionals, such as teachers, nurses, paramedics and firefighters.

“The answer is complex but is definitely to do with lack of public understanding about our roles and something to do with the public profile of social workers and media coverage over the decades.

“Media representation has often been particularly partial, inaccurate or downright hostile. We are here with journalist colleagues this evening to start recognising and celebrating the counter approach to that, to celebrate honest and insightful coverage of social work and to create new narratives of the profession in the media, public life and in the sector across the UK. “

John McGowan, general secretary of the Social Workers Union, said: “I have valued being part of the short-listing panel. The media awards will hopefully grow every year so we can build on positive reporting of social work and the work we do.

"The awards build on the new advice and guidance for journalists reporting on the work of social workers.

"The voluntary guidelines were developed by SWU, BASW and IMPRESS after members of the Social Workers Union and British Association of Social Workers came forward with harrowing stories about the impact poor media reporting had on them professionally and personally after being named in media pieces and being represented poorly.”

Shortlisted entries


  • Richard Youle, for his balanced article highlighting the millions of pounds spent on agency social workers in Wales as councils struggle to retain and recruit staff in face of surging demand for services, in Wales Online
  • Rachel Hall, for a revealing article that shows record numbers of social workers are leaving their jobs due to a combination of austerity, the pandemic and cost of living crisis, in The Guardian
  • Jamie Roberton, for a hard-hitting piece that warns of an exodus of social workers due to soaring and more complex caseloads highlighting the workload of social workers, online Channel 4 News


  • Rachel Hall, for an in-depth interview highlighting the reality of life of a social worker working against the backdrop of the pandemic, in The Guardian
  • Amy Borrett, for an article that delves into the funding cuts that left the social care system highly vulnerable before Covid turned it into a crisis, on Sky News (online printed content)
  • Anoosh Chakelian, for an extended feature that hears first hand from many frontline practitioners on the challenges of the job in the wake of high profile child deaths, in The New Statesman


  • Tessa ­­­­­­­­­­­Chapman, for a balanced item revealing the high number of children of disabled parents being taken into care with a focus on the lack of resources compounding the issue, on 5 News
  • Lucy Kapasi, for a ‘day in the life’ piece which followed a number of Birmingham social workers go about their jobs following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, on ITV Central
  • Charlotte Lynch, for an item that uses exclusive research to reveal the increasing burden placed on children’s services to deliver services despite cuts to resources and funding on LBC Radio


  • Nicky Campbell Show, for a thought-provoking phone-in about social work where callers gave their opinions on how the profession is perceived by the public, media and Government, on Radio 5 Live
  • Terri White, episode 4 of the podcast Finding Britain’s Ghost Children, where the journalist changes her view of social workers as she learns more about the pressures of the job, on Radio 5 Live
  • Ben Robinson, for a well-researched and program on how the cost of living crisis is forcing more families into poverty and consequently more children into care, on Radio 4’s File on 4


  • Mithran Samuel, for an exclusive article on how 1,000 social workers were deregistered in England this year despite believing they had renewed registration, in Community Care
  • Rob Preston, for a revealing piece that interviewed newly qualified social workers and found high levels of variance in mentorship and peer support, in Community Care
  • Jessica Hill, for an investigation into ‘unscrupulous’ tactics used by children’s social care agencies to recruit social workers as the pandemic drives demand, in the Local Government Chronicle


  • The Social Worker and the Mentor podcast, for their straight talking on the mental health and wellbeing of social workers and how burnout is increasing
  • Sharmeen Ziauddin, for an absorbing interview with a palliative care social worker that looked at what skills were needed for this specialist job, in Community Care
  • Fiona Simpson, for an article on how some recruitment agencies are compounding workforce pressures in children’s services, in Children & Young People Now

Judging Panel

David Brindle – former social affairs editor, The Guardian, and commentator on social care

Maggie Fogarty – former Social Work Today reporter and social affairs TV producer

Maria Leedham – applied linguist who has conducted research into media portrayals of social work

John McGowan - General Secretary of the Social Workers Union

Shahid Naqvi – editor of Professional Social Work magazine

Georgiana Ndlovu – journalist and current social work master’s student

Rebekah Pierre – Professional Officer for BASW England and journalist