Northern Ireland social workers recognised at NIASW awards event

Social workers across Northern Ireland have been recognised for their contribution to the profession at an awards ceremony hosted by the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW – part of BASW).

Practitioners from among more than 5,000 social workers employed in the country were handed the prestigious awards at a ceremony and celebratory lunch held in Belfast.

Among them were the oncology and haematology social work team based at the Cancer Centre in Belfast City Hospital, who scooped the Innovation Award and Overall Winner award for the JimmyTeens TV project. The team wanted to improve the hospital experience for young people aged between 16 and 21 by adding a creative dimension. Over three years, 35 young people were offered the opportunity to make films about their cancer journey which were then uploaded to the JimmyTeens TV website

Mary Hogg, a cystic fibrosis social worker at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, won the Individual Award.

The Developing Practice Award went to the NI Association of Mental Health for the Beacon Social Care Model, a new approach to care based on inclusion and recovery, while the Partnership Award went to the Elder Care Team in Magherafelt for the Good Morning project, which became the focus for a range of events aimed at improving the wellbeing of older people in the area.

Carolyn Ewart, manager of the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers, said: “Social workers do some of the most rewarding and challenging work in the world. Without social workers successful society wouldn’t exist, the vulnerable would not be protected and those facing difficulties would not be supported or empowered so we are delighted to be part of a scheme that recognises this essential work.

“There are some outstanding social workers and social work teams in Northern Ireland working very hard in tough conditions to help people in these challenging economic times and it’s fantastic to be able to celebrate their work today,” she added.

Fionnuala McAndrew, director of social services (Health and Social Care Board), said: “Social workers make a real difference to the quality of life enjoyed by all of these people and need special professional skills to bring this about.  It is therefore important that the skills of social workers, and the many examples of excellent practice provided by them, are both recognised and indeed celebrated for what they achieve”.

She congratulated all the award winners as pioneers of best practice who each set shining examples of the value of social work to people who need care and support.

“More widely, their work shows that Northern Ireland has social workers of whom we can be proud, and who can show others, particularly younger people, of just how worthwhile a career in social work can be,” continued Mrs McAndrew. “This is a great day for social workers who, while often un-sung, are showing the real benefits of their work on behalf of so many,” she added.