Balls calls for social work celebration at CYP Now awards

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls called on wider society to celebrate the invaluable role social workers play in protecting children from harm during his speech at the Children & Young People Now Awards last night.

Balls said that one of the key lessons he has learned in the aftermath of the tragic death of Baby Peter was that the excellent work of children’s social workers often goes unnoticed.

“Unlike with the police where we can celebrate a crime solved, or unlike teaching where can celebrate great exams results, the problem with child protection is that it is almost always the case that good work goes unremarked,” he said. “It’s only when a problem arises and when something goes wrong that we get to see children’s social work in the newspapers and the national media, which makes it a difficult and challenging profession.”

He added that it was important that the children’s workforce and wider society “celebrates and stands up for all the hard work that children’s social workers do”.

Balls also used his opening address to call on the wider children’s workforce to improve the way the younger generation is protected. “It’s not good enough to know that child protection is good in certain parts of the country; it has got to be good in all parts of the country. That can only happen with strong local, determined leadership and with local services working together to keep children safe,” he said.

Ealing Council was the biggest award winner on the night. It took away three prizes for Best Corporate Parent, The Youth Work Award and Council of the Year. The most emotional moment of the evening came when Michele Elliott picked up the award for Children and Young People’s Champion. Elliott founded the children’s charity Kidscape 25 years ago after remortgaging her home.

CYP Now editor Ravi Chandiramani said: “These awards really are held in great esteem. That the Secretary of State found time to open our event for the second year running says a lot in itself. All of the finalists showed an amazing level of commitment and there are some great winners to inspire all those who work with the next generation and their families.

“Congratulations to all our winners.”