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2018 Social Work Awards: Celebrating Excellence


Social workers across Northern Ireland were recognised for the extra help and support they offer, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to people often in sensitive and difficult environments.

The 2018 Social Work Awards recognise and reward the efforts of some of the 5,000 social workers and highlights the positive impact they have on individuals, families and communities.

Now in its sixth year, the awards are sponsored by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and organised in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW), and the five Health and Social Care Trusts in partnership with social work organisations from criminal justice, education and the voluntary and independent sectors.

The HSCB’s Director of Social Work and Children, Fionnuala McAndrew received a Special Lifetime Achievement award. Fionnuala was recognised for her contribution to developing the role and profile of social workers across Northern Ireland.

HSCB Director of Social Work and Children Fionnuala McAndrew with HSCB Finance Director, Paul Cummings

She was instrumental in setting up the first Social Work Awards event in 2011, working with colleagues in health and social care to push through the reservations of those who felt it wasn’t in a social worker’s ethos to seek such recognition.

Since the first awards, social work as a profession has come a long way and is now a profession proud to stand up and celebrate excellence across a whole range of services.

Paul Cummings, HSCB’s Finance Director presented the award and paid tribute to Fionnuala for being the passionate voice of social workers, users of the service and carers.

Also speaking at the event, HSC chief executive Richard Pengelly said: “Social Work and Social Care feature prominently in Delivering Together which sets out a clear road map for the type of change we need to make to our HSC system to meet the needs of the NI population in the future.

“Social workers have an important role to play in change.  Their job is often to try to encourage or facilitate change in people’s lives.  That explains why the social work profession has helped lead the way in bringing the Quality Improvement ethos into everyday practice.

“There is a clear recognition of the contribution that social workers make to improving people’s social wellbeing and it is only right to commend all involved within the profession for their hard work and dedication.”

Cecil Worthington, Acting Director of Social Care and Children’s Services, Health and Social Care Board, said,

“Much of the work that social workers do, often in very difficult circumstances to bring about positive changes, goes unnoticed. The Social Work Awards provide us with the opportunity to honour these inspirational and deserving professionals and teams.  I have been very impressed by high calibre of nominations in this year’s awards.

The winners of each of the nine award categories are:

Northern Ireland Social Care Council Chief Executive, Colum Conway said: “Tasked with working with some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society, social workers, through their commitment and professionalism make a real and meaningful contribution in helping those most in need. It is therefore right and proper that we should both celebrate and honour the Social Work profession and NISCC is delighted to be associated with these awards.”