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Social Care Council congratulate social workers who are shaping the future of social work

15 June 2023

188 inspirational social workers across Northern Ireland are being celebrated this week for their contribution to shaping the future of social work through learning and development, at the Northern Ireland Social Care Council’s (the Social Care Council’s) Professional in Practice Awards 2023.

The ceremony recognises social workers who have completed a Professional in Practice Award that reflects commitment to learning and dedication to delivering outstanding social work practice across Northern Ireland.

This was the first in-person ceremony since the beginning of the Covid Pandemic and the Council were privileged to be welcomed to the Borough of Mid and East Antrim by the newly appointed Mayor: Ald Geraradine Mulvenna.

The theme for this year’s ceremony was ‘Valuing Continuous Professional Development’ and was an opportunity for the Social Care Council and its partners to celebrate the profession of social work and the vital work social workers’ do across a wide range of settings.

Opening the ceremony, Aine Morrison, Chief Social Work Officer for the Department of Health, said: 

“As Social Workers we practice in an ever-evolving world so it is important that we meet our professional responsibilities to ensure that our practice is research informed, ethical and up to date. We owe it to people who use services and communities that we work with to be the best that we can be. Those who received awards today, should be very proud as members of the social work profession and I am in awe of their dedication to improving their evidence-based practice through their continued learning journey.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Peter Toogood, Deputy Secretary Social Care Policy for the Department of Health

“The Professional in Practice (PiP) Framework, is built on partnership and collaboration between social work employers, education providers and the Social Care Council, and is designed to support the professional development of social workers throughout their career. Events like the PiP Awards are crucial to promoting a positive professional identity for social work and the Award Recipients here today have shown their personal commitment and are role models for colleagues and the profession as a whole – I congratulate you all.”

Closing the ceremony, Paul Martin, Chair of the Social Care Council Board, said:

“The Professional in Practice Awards are a unique opportunity to demonstrate the dedication and innovation of many of Northern Ireland’s dedicated and compassionate social workers and to hear about the commitment they make to ever improving their social work practice.

“Completion and attainment of PiP Awards is an outstanding achievement not just for our award recipients but for the managers and peers who support them. I’d like to personally congratulate each of them, they should be extremely proud of their achievements.”

Four award categories were presented (Consolidation Award in Social Work, Specialist Award in Social Work, Leadership and Strategic Award in Social Work and Advanced Scholarship Award in Social Work) to social workers from the following organisations:

Action for Children
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Education Authority
Family Care Adoption Services
Foster Care Associates
Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Northern Ireland Social Care Council

Queen’s University Belfast
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Southern Area Hospice
Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG), Department of Health
Western Health and Social Care Trust
Women’s Aid – Belfast and Lisburn
Youth Justice Agency

– ENDS –

Notes to editor

Photographs from ceremony

Photographs are available of awardees from the following organisations upon request.

Award categories

– Consolidation Award – For newly qualified social workers or those re-entering the workforce – this award supports the development of in-depth competence, to produce well-rounded, competent and confident practitioners.

– Specialist Award – For social workers involved in complex decision-making requiring high levels of professional responsibility and accountability – this award supports social workers to develop high levels of specialist knowledge, skills and expertise.

– Leadership and Strategic Award – For social workers demonstrating high levels of competence, moving beyond the detail of their own practice to explore a wider perspective where they influence developments and are thought leaders.

– Advanced Scholarship Award – The Advanced Scholarship Award provides the opportunity for social workers to have their learning and development recognised at doctoral level and beyond. The award provides:

– an opportunity for social workers to progress their professional development beyond the Leadership and Strategic Award, and

– professional recognition for PhDs and for practice which is commensurate with that level of study.

About the Social Care Council – Together we are raising standards of care

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (Social Care Council) is a public body established by the Department of Health (DoH) to support high quality standards of social work and social care. Our purpose is to register, regulate and support the development of a strong and professional social work and social care workforce that meets the complex needs of our society.

October 2022 marked our 21st anniversary and the policy objectives set out for the Social Care Council in 2001 hold firm today:

to strengthen and support the professionalism of the workforce,
to raise standards of practice, and
to protect the people who use services.

For more information:

Rita Lewtas, Head of Strategic Communications and Engagement