Article written by Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, and Councillor James Reeder Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services
Social work is vital to keeping children and adults safe. Social workers help people live good, independent lives as part of the community. We are incredibly proud of social workers in Suffolk and the fantastic work they do which is why we are delighted to congratulate the winners of this year’s Social Worker of the Year Awards.
The Social Worker of the Year Awards is a national event celebrating the excellence and compassion of social workers. Suffolk had a remarkable year with our applications, securing victory in three categories at the awards ceremony held on 3 November 2023 in London.
First and foremost, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Victoria Veale, who was honoured as the Newly Qualified Adult Social Worker of the Year. Victoria has earned the admiration of her colleagues and the individuals she serves for her unwavering trust and empathy in her work. Her dedication is evident through her achievement of a First-Class honours degree in social work while simultaneously working full-time in the apprenticeship program. Since September 2022, she has been an integral part of the Adult and Community Services Learning Disability and Autism Specialist Support Team, making a substantial impact by supporting individuals through highly complex situations.
When asked about being a social worker, Victoria said:
“I don’t just love social work I love working in Suffolk and being given the opportunities I do not believe I would have got anywhere else. I am passionate about supporting the people of Suffolk. While I am newly qualified, I have worked for Adult Social Care in Suffolk for almost eleven years!
“I absolutely would recommend becoming a social worker. It is a tough job, and it isn’t always wins and successes but when you keep going and build relationships with people who otherwise felt marginalised by professionals, they are the reason I keep doing what I’m doing!”
Secondly, we congratulate our Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) team for winning the Silver award for Adult Services Team of the Year. The DoLS team ensures people who cannot consent to their care arrangements in a care home or hospital are protected. Care arrangements are assessed to check that they are necessary and in the person’s best interests. This achievement reflects the team's tireless efforts and steadfast commitment to the people they serve.
Finally, we celebrate the Make a Change Team, who received the Silver award for Team of the Year in Children's Services. The team is committed to identifying and reducing harm from all forms of child exploitation and have been recognised for their outstanding work within the local authority. Their dedication and expertise in engaging with young people at risk and delivering long-term support, has led to impressive outcomes. This includes a 91% reduction in exploitation risk for young people supported by the team.
Once again, congratulations to all the winners of this year's awards. Suffolk's success at this event serves as an inspiration for our county's residents to consider a career in social work. While it can be challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding, as social work has a profound, positive impact on people's lives, both those receiving support and those providing it.
For more information on becoming a social worker, please visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/socialwork.