Accessibility Links
Quick Send CV
Cookies on our website
By continuing to use this website we will assume you are happy to receive cookies as outlined in our cookie policy
Accept Policy

Zoë Betts, founder of iamsocialwork, interviews two Social Worker of the Year Award 2016 Winners. 

As we enter 2017, rather than focusing on the year’s challenges, it’s important to let the successes shine through. The Social Worker of the Year Awards 2016 did just this and it was the biggest yet, marking a hugely rewarding time for so many brilliant social workers who are working in exceptionally pressured roles. 

I caught up with two of the winners; Adult Social Worker of the Year; Heather Kent from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Children’s Social Worker of the Year; Emily Tiplady-Ead from Suffolk County Council, to hear what continues to inspire and motivate them.

Heather Kent, Adult Social Worker of the Year 2016

What do the awards mean to you?

I am proud to be recognised for my work over the last 15 years. It was a great honour to be nominated by my team manager, who I completely respect as a social worker and manager. I mentored her through her post-qualifying studies and so I like to take a small amount of credit for the wonderful social worker she is! In turn, the support she gives me is invaluable and has enabled me to be the practitioner I am today. 

Tell us about your journey into social work…

I have a very strong social conscience, a commitment to equality and diversity and a non-judgemental positive attitude. After graduating in social anthropology and sociology in 1977, I did a lot of voluntary work; I co-ordinated a children's adventure group in Newcastle, taught English as a foreign language, supported people at Alzheimer’s UK and was a team leader at a charity supporting care leavers, to name a few roles. I ultimately decided the best way I could help people and influence services was as a social worker; my daughter is also a social worker so that is the best influence I could ever have! 

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt so far?

I’ve learnt that as an individual social worker, you can still make a massive difference and have the ability to positively affect people’s lives and influence the delivery of services at a local level. To achieve this, it’s essential to take advantage of all the support networks at work, such as supervision and peer support, and to maintain a sense of humour. 

What positive message would you like to share?

Recognising the impact we have on people’s lives and our influence on services are our greatest tools. If we are open, honest and always mindful of equality and diversity issues, then we can be ‘islands of empowerment’, regardless of the environment we work in.

Emily Tiplady-Ead, Adult Social Worker of the Year 2016

What do the awards mean to you?

I was very surprised and honoured when my practice manager nominated me, and it has given my colleagues a morale boost. I feel very proud to be named ‘Children’s Social Worker of the Year 2016’. 

On the night, it was lovely to hear so much praise and positive recognition for social workers, teams and organisations across the country. I was also pleased to see Professor June Thoburn being recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Social Work. She is a professor of social work at UEA, where I studied for my MA in Social Work.

Tell us about your journey into social work…

A couple of years after completing my first degree in Early Childhood Studies, I started a job as a Family Support Practitioner for Suffolk County Council which really opened my eyes to the world of social work. I quite quickly decided that this was what I wanted to do, and would be something I could do well.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?

I’ve learnt not to lose sight of life outside of social work. It is so easy to let it take over all aspects of your life and that isn’t healthy. After work, it’s important to switch off. I go for long bike rides... Sometimes 100 miles! During the spring and summer months, I try to cycle 10-12 miles before work. 

What positive social work message would you like to share?

It’s a privilege to work with vulnerable children and families. Although some days are really tough, I’m constantly encouraged by the amazing work carried out by my colleagues. I think it’s fantastic that the awards celebrate this.

Email a friend
Add new comment