The Social Worker of the Year Awards – Vanity Awards Funded by Public Money

The social worker of the year awards are almost upon us, they will be in person on the 4th November 2022 in London.

Entries could have been submitted between April and June, the judging period then followed, and the finalists were announced on the 5th September.

During the past few months they have also been announcing the sponsors for various categories, they are now also announcing ‘thank you sponsers’ which I believe are just organisations who wish to be associated to the awards in some way and are willing to pay for the privilege.

I’ve just set up an account on The Social Work Awards, I cannot nominate because they are closed. I cannot nominate anyway because i’m just a measly good for nothing service user, again, i’m really stupid and it’s a miracle I even managed to sign up.

I have in the past submitted a compliment regarding a children’s social worker to Essex County Council, I wouldn’t be able to nominate her for children’s social worker of the year though.

All nominations have to be endorsed by the organisation who nominates the social worker, i’ve just checked my credentials, and it turns out i’m a mere service user and not an organisation. So I cannot nominate.

At Essex County Council all nominations have to go through the Essex Social Care Academy, it is a steadfast rule they have. Social Worker A cannot nominate Social Worker B because they think Social Worker B is exceptional, it has to go through the Social Care Academy.

The whole process at the Social Work Awards is purely paper based. Finalists, and then winners, are chosen solely by what is written on the nomination.

No fact checking is ever done at any stage. It is entirely reliant on what is put down on the nomination form and how well it is written.

There are companies out there that you can pay to write your submission for any kind of award, as most rely solely on the what is written on the nomination form. It’s not about who is truly the Social Worker of the Year, it is all about how well the nomination is written.

Whoever writes the nominations at Essex County Council knows what the judges are looking for and what boxes need to be ticked.

Then the nominations are judged. The judging is absolute robust and it’s all impartial, well that is what they say, but is it true?

Let’s go back to the distant past to 2019, the last time the Social Work Awards were held in person.

An Essex County Council Adult Social Worker was a finalist in the Adult Social Worker of the Year section, chosen as a finalist by the robust impartial judging panel at the Social Work Awards.

His name is still there as a finalist.

I will not be naming him, the matter ended up with Social Work England and he was subjected to removal at the end of his hearing for dishonesty. What he did he paid the price for.

In 2018 he self nominated, I have no more details on that and he did not become a finalist.

In 2019 he became a finalist after a nomination was made by ‘someone at Essex Social Care’ and endorsed by ‘Someone else at Essex Social Care’

He did it all by himself and just basically faked everything. and still ended up as a finalist.

The social worker had recently left the employment of ECC when the finalists were announced, the email telling him he was a finalist went to his manager, as all of his work emails were redirected when he left.

His manager then forwarded him the email, he replied that he no longer wanted to participate.

It then blew up and a concern was raised with the HCPC before the regulator changed to SWE.

Here is an example from the form the dishonest social worker submitted “he is the best social worker to deal with social work crisis”.

That was part of what made him a finalist. That was written on his nomination form as if it was coming from a manager.

The social work awards fact check nothing, not even checking that what they are reading is written by the people who it states are saying it.

If he hadn’t left before the awards were announced would ECC have done nothing and let it carry on? I’ve already covered extensively them allowing social workers to be dishonest when it suits them

I truly believe that they would have let it all go ahead if he hadn’t left.

This year Essex County Council are up for awards in 5 categories. with 8 people nominated. In one category there are 3 social workers who are ECC finalists, in another there are two.

They are also ‘supporting’ one of the award categories, supporting is the wrong word, they are sponsoring the category, wrong wording again, they are actually using public money to be associated with the Social Work Awards to raise their profile, and their ego’s. I’ll be breaking down how much this so called celebration of social work will be costing Essex Residents further in this blog post.

There are 18 categories this year, with 91 practitioners or teams up for the awards.

Three of those categories ECC cannot enter, two because they are university and student based, and the other is the lifetime achievement award which they are sponsoring, you cannot enter a category you are sponsoring.

That makes no sense, surely if the judging is robust there would be no favouritism just because rhe organisation is sponsoring the category?

So that is 15 practitioners and 3 categories that could not have an ECC finalist.

This means that just over 1 in 10 practitioners or teams that have managed to become finalists are Essex County Council employees.

There are about 100,000 Social Workers in England.

ECC have the highest number of finalists of any organisation at the Social Work Awards. That’s a lot to shout about, which they do, rather loudly.

The social workers who are finalists are getting a lot of praise from all at ECC, they are superstars, they will have an even higher status if they win.

Given they are finalists, which is a feat in itself, and some will likely be winners, it would seem that that group of social workers are the best of the best.

All social workers are equal, except some are more equal than others.

Those who are more equal are those who win awards for Essex County Council. I have seen this happen, they end up with promotions and the social media interactions between them and their superiors are sickening.

Essex County Council blasts awards everywhere, all over every social media channel, all over their website, them winning awards is a huge thing for them and something they revel in. They enter a lot of awards, as a resident it angers me and the ego trip they go on sickens me.

I have more posts to write regarding ECC and their addiction to awards, and i’m thinking of starting a petition in the hope that it gains enough attention that ECC will stop entering any awards at all.

So The Social Work Awards are really just a load of rubbish, they truly are. I’ve just covered the nomination process and how the finalists are chosen, it’s all literally judged from one submission with no fact checking at all, it is so lax that someone managed to become a finalist despite the submission being totally fabricated. I do wonder if him working for ECC had something to do with him being a finalist despite a totally fabricated nomination, it may be a coincidence but it’s an interesting theory.

The Social Work Awards are run by a charity, so this is all paid for by charitable funds, which is obviously nothing to do with me as it’s not like i’m paying for them, or am I?

Here is a breakdown of how The Social Work Awards got their income in 2019. These are from their accounts at Companies House from 2020 so cover the 2019 awards.

They do spend all the money on the awards, a bit on PR, a teeny amount on admin, everyone who ‘works’ for them does it for free, there is nothing to write about that.

So £170,000 in income in 2019, all of it from charitable donations, technically true.

That £170,00o is almost exclusively public money.

The Social Work Awards are almost exclusively funded by public money.

Unlike a lot of awards, it costs nothing to enter. All nominations however come with an agreement that if the nominee reaches the final that either the finalist, or a representative, will attend the awards ceremony.

I have not got a figure for how much tickets are costing this year, in 2016 tickets were priced at £140 (excluding VAT). I think i’s reasonable to suggest they are likely now in the region of £200 each, although finalists get them at a reduced price, i’m going to use £150 for a finalist ticket, I have no idea of the real cost of a finalist ticket but i’ll be putting estimated figures on how much this is costing me and £50 off a ticket seems reasonable.

There are 8 finalists from Essex County Council, one of those finalists is a team. At awards ceremony’s there are always round tables, organisations when booking tickets usually book a whole table, they always sit 10 people per table, awards usually sell tickets by the table.

I’m going to assume that Essex County Council will book a whole table for the team up for the Digital Transformation in Social Work Award. So that will cost £1500 of public money, using the reduced rate ticket price.

Then you have the other 7 individuals who are finalists, that will cost £1050 of public money.

They won’t go alone though, other Essex County Council Employees will go, those who are above the finalists. It’s unlikely to be just three more people to make a table of ten, as the finalists are spread over multiple categories, it is almost certainly going to be 13 extra people to make it up to two tables of ten.

So 13 extra people at £200 a ticket is £2600 of public money.

So we are already up to £6700 of public money being spent actually attending the awards.

That does not include the cost of the time it took for whoever writes the nominations to write them, that is 8 nominations, at least a whole days work, so that is also a days salary to add to the cost, I won’t include that because I have no clue what that would be.

I imagine the amount of nominations were actually a lot higher than the amount of finalists, so it is likely more than a day, maybe three days worth of wages going on the awards.

Then there will be miscellaneous expenses that will be paid for out of public money related to the awards, including PR costs.

That is a lot of public money being spent on some pieces of glass.

Wait, i’m not done.

On the figures from companies house it shows a great deal of the Social Work Awards charity income comes from sponsorship.

Each of the 18 award categories can be sponsored by an organisation, there is a headline sponsor who pays £25k gets a lot of perks and is named on the overall social worker of the year award.

Then you have one at £15k.

Then the rest are £10,000 per category, so if you wish to sponsor a category, it will cost you £10,000.

Essex County Council are sponsoring the Lifetime Achievement Award, so that is £10,000 of public money going on sponsoring an award.

The total amount of public money that Essex County Council are spending on The Social Work Awards is £16,700.

That is my money! That is meant to be spent on the residents of Essex, not on 8 people being finalists for an award.

Not to mention that the ticket price usually covers food and some alcohol, in all othe awards i’ve researched the ticket price covers this, if food and alcohol is extra at The Social Work Awards, then public money will be going towards that. When residents of Essex are struggling with the cost of living crisis and some are going without food a select few Essex County Council employees will be living it up with food and alcohol paid for by the public.

Then Essex County Council will be bragging about it and sharing photos all over social media, how thoughtful.

So The Social Work Awards are almost exclusively paid for with public money, this year £16,700 of it will be paid for by Essex Residents.

The Social Work Awards obviously know that most of their so called donations come from public money and that the awards are almost exclusive run using public money. There are some exceptions but almost all of the ticket sales will be public money, and most of the sponsorship money will be public money. There are some exceptions.

Here are the aims of the charity

Recognition to the challenging work of qualified social workers? I’m not seeing how a party and a piece of glass is giving recognition. A payrise, smaller caseloads, more support, would be giving them the recognition they deserve. 18 people with a piece of glass does not bring recognition to the other 100,000 social workers.

Steve who is a social worker from Manchester is not getting any recognition because he’s not been nominated and is not a finalist and won’t be there and it won’t be streamed. Actually a lot of social workers have no chance of being finalists because their organisation refuse to waste public money.

A lot of the country also isn’t near London, so on the awards nights you can add 6 hours each way travelling which would be a barrier to participation in the awards for a lot of social workers.

Promote best practice in the profession and celebrate success? How are awards promoting best practice? They are only reaching a tiny percentage of social workers on the night of the awards, nothing about practice reaches further than the judges until the final, where it then only reaches those at the final. The winners do have a write up regarding why they won on the Social Work Awards website, but the reach isn’t huge.

Last year when the event was virtual and tickets were free, only 2000 people logged in. A lot of those would have been colleagues and management of finalists. Not really what I would call promoting best practice.

The success part is those who win the awards, so only 18 people will be celebrating success. “Everyone is a winner” will be thrown around, but that is a load of rubbish, it will just be a load of people faking being pleased for the winner if their practitioner doesn’t win. After all, they have spent a lot of public money in an attempt to win an award.

Improve understanding of the range of work which social workers undertake? This is also mentioned in other places as improving the public understanding of social work.

That is my favourite bit, how are we even meant to know the Social Work Awards exist? I only know because of this blog and watching ECC social media accounts. I only know even more because I did a lot of research about them. I was forced to sit silently for 4 hours in the dark the other night with only my phone on a low level of light. Didn’t feel like playing games, so I carried on researching, found out about the £10,000 and immediately got very angry. I would have written the post then but laptop light would have been too much. Very sick kid, light and noise was a no, and I was not going to do anything to risk waking up said kid.

The general public isn’t exposed to these type of things, even if The Social Work Awards hit the front page of the newspapers, we’d still ignore it as nothing to do with us. Only a small amount of people with lived experience of social work are interested in things like this, and even then it is solely raising one social worker above all others, and many do not care about other sections of social work they haven’t had lived experience of.

As a member of the public, and as someone with lived experience of social work, I can say that there is absolutely no argument that could convince me that The Social Work Awards are anything to do with me in any way, even when we were service users, I still am I guess, i’d never heard of them.

Celebrate and promote diversity and equal opportunities in social care? How exactly does the awards do that? The social justice one? A lot of social workers don’t even get nominated because their distance from London would make either them, or a representative, attending the awards impossible. There are also local authorities who refuse to waste public money on vanity awards instead of spending £16,700 on attending the aforementioned vanity awards.

I called them vanity awards because that is literally all they are. They are not free, you have to pay for them, it is elevating certain social workers above others despite those who are finalists not having done anything special. An award isn’t helpful for the social workers at the local authority, except for the winner who gets elevated above the others in the most sickening way. Seriously, i’ve seen some things that made me angry.

We are currently in a cost of living crisis, there is a social worker charity that gives out handouts to social workers who need money, they are absolutely overwhelmed and having to turn people away.

I read an article the other day where social workers are having to find sometimes hundreds of pounds to pay for petrol for visits during the month and then not getting the money fully back as the amount they get per mile for driving costs is not enough to offset the high cost of petrol.

There is not enough money for social care, for all aspects of social care, local authorities are having issues recruiting, there is not enough money in social care, I cannot say that enough.

I have had a carers assessment done and it’s going through the motions at the moment, it is almost a year since I asked for one. Not the fault of the lovely social worker who did it, but it’s things like this that suffer because of no money. I have previously had a refusal for a carers assessment, no money.

Then you have The Social Work Awards spending £170,000 of public money each year on vanity awards. They are technically charitable donations, but the trustees of The Social Work Awards know those donations are coming from public money.

I’m missing out on £16,700 that could be used to better the county i’m living in so that those in a position of power at Essex County Council can revel in glory for every award they win. They are already showing off that they have so many finalists, patting each other on the back in a way that is nauseating for a service user to watch.

So what does Essex County Council get in return for £10,000 of sponsorship?

This is what they get for my, sorry, their money:

They basically pay £10,000 to get The Social Work Awards telling everyone how brilliant they are and the ability to say themselves how brilliant they are in print and in person on the awards night, it’s £10,000 worth of advertising.

This is the reasons the Social Work Awards give to encourage local authorities to spend thousands of pounds in sponsorship money:

There are many many free ways that are already set up for local authorities to do that already, they do not need to do that via paying £10,000 of public money to an awards organiser.

Those figures are a load of rubbish, especially the top ones, nobody is interested, so just because The Social Work Awards PR puts articles in places that get traffic and as such they get traffic, it doesn’t mean anyone has clicked the link or even taken notice of it. Not sure what the top figures cover but over 12 million people do not know about the Social Work Awards.

Why does a local authority need to raise their profile and make themselves look better? Tom Smith from Leeds is not going to suddenly be overwhelmed by how brilliant ECC are and decide he wants Essex Adult Social Care to provide care to his elderly Mum, local authorities don’t work that way.

The whole of The Social Work Awards, like almost all awards, are just a exercise in vanity. Essex County Council utilise them for glory, the whole of the upper management, directors etc, thrive on glory. They show off their awards to the elected members who haven’t got a clue about how it’s solely about vanity, and they get praise from the elected members.

The award love on social media is overwhelming, the phrase “Very Well Deserved” as yet another vanity award is won, paid for by public money is sickening. The Social Work Awards is just one award, Essex County Council are addicted to entering awards, a lot of them exist solely to make a profit for those running the awards. Tens of thousands of public money is spent on these awards shows every single year. I will be covering those in the next few posts by going into detail of a select few.

There is no magic to winning an award, you just need someone who has solid nomination writing skills to write the nomination. Someone with experience of what the judges are looking for, what boxes the judges need to tick to put someone through to the final. Spending hundreds of pounds on entry fees, then thousands more on attending awards with fancy dinners and champagne while residents of Essex starve and freeze.

As for impartiality in the judging at the Social Work Awards, is that really true?

How come have Essex County Council got so many finalists, obviously location plays a part, many organisations cannot participate due to distance, which in effects means the awards are not accessible to all social workers, but a high number of ECC social workers end up as finalists.

Including one who fabricated the whole nomination, including lying about who wrote the nomination and who endorsed it. Is there favouritism towards ECC because they give The Social Work Awards a lot of public money each year?

How did ECC end up with three finalists in one category when there are thousands of social workers from all over England who would qualify?

As a member of the public that certainly counts as something a bit weird.

A reward for a social worker should be when they change someone’s life for the better, when they connect with someone and really help them. They will be getting told whether they are doing a good job or not by their employers.

There is absolutely no need to raise some social workers above others when they all should be doing the best they can. The winner of the overall social worker of the year won’t have done anything different to thousands of other social workers, the only difference is that their employer wrote an amazing nomination that checked all of the boxes that the judges rate the nominations on.

They aren’t better than any other social workers, and them winning the award certainly doesn’t celebrate the 99,999 social workers who didn’t win, especially as only a few hundred would have been nominated in the first place, and tens of thousands are ruled out of entering due to being too far away to attend the awards and thus not allowed to participate under The Social Work Awards rules.

At Essex County Council it is nepotism, i’ve seen the pattern, i’ve seen people buy awards using public money and then get promoted shortly afterwards, i’ve seen winners of social work awards getting lovebombed by those above and reaching service manager positions. Someone who won a silver award a few years ago always gets mentioned by the top people. Everything she does, they gush over, even the executive director for children. She has already been promoted, she will end up as a service manager in a few years. There is favouritism going on, which means that other social workers will be noticing the favouritism in the same way I have, which is not healthy.

There is toxic positivity going on, which is another post for another day.

Last year Essex County Council won the best social work employer of the year. I know this because it is everywhere, including all over every single one of their adverts for employees. They have put it everywhere.

Here is what is written about that award on The Social Work Awards Website:

Essex employs 3,500 staff across children’s and adult’s social care, 1,200 of which are social workers and its Children and Families service is rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted (in 2019).

The nomination described Essex’s capable response to the pandemic, working to ensure the support needs of Essex communities were met while ensuring staff were kept as safe as possible. The establishment of the Essex Welfare Service allowed the council to co-ordinate volunteers, redeploy staff where need was greatest and set up food distribution, welfare calls and other support for the community.

Essex also provided evidence from surveys carried out by children’s social care during the pandemic which showed that over six months from July 2020, 84% of families surveyed reported they were supported very well or fairly well by the council’s children’s social care function. During the pandemic Essex’s Children in Care Council led the delivery of ‘boredom boxes’ to children in care, zoom activity sessions, socially distanced visits, texts and more.

Judges also heard about the promotion of and commitment to worker wellbeing and learning and development at Essex. For example, Essex County Council run Essex Social Care Academy, offering continuous social care professional development. The council is also committed to supporting other local authorities with bespoke workshops and online events to share good practice and support them on their improvement journeys.

Fairly sure other authorities do the same level of care for their employees.

Hmm, July 2020, that was when one of my children attempted suicide, was very vocal about it being social care having caused it, was very vocal regarding the reasons, yet Essex County Council refused to investigate my complaint, hence the blogging. Initially to try and get them to investigate, then to tell our story to the public and show what happens when things go wrong.

Things went very very wrong with us and it’s taken 4 years to get some sense of normality, the only reason I can be so vocal is because we got lucky and the family courts were never involved. Three children made suicidal by their actions, refusal to actually listen to my children.

A refusal to investigate anything that was serious.

All that was needed, and indeed wanted, for my family was an apology, would have taken 10 minutes. It has never been admitted that they got things wrong, despite a fresh assessment a year later painting a completely different picture, a true picture, especially as my children were listened to. Despite this there has been o acceptance they got things wrong, no sorry to my children.

The social workers involved at the time of my child’s suicide attempt couldn’t even acknowledge the reasons my child gave for their suicide attempt as Essex County Council never investigated and therefore what my child was saying to everyone who would listen after the suicide attempt, and before, the not listening was the reason for the suicide attempt, could not be acknowledged by the social workers.

August 2020 seems to have been a really important month for Essex Children’s Services while they were handing out questionnaires to get people to tell them how good they are.

It was the month that a 2 month old baby who was on a child protection plan died from a head injury.

I will admit I had negative feelings while still fighting to get my childs suicide attempt investigated and seeing Essex County Council brag extensively about how good they are all over the internet, it was hard and I was incredibly bitter.

I found it incredibly upsetting that the period also covered the death of baby Malik.

Now we are coming up to the 2022 Social Work Awards, Essex County Council are buzzing, lots of finalists, lots of excitement and telling each other how fantastic they are. Press releases, the lot.

All ready for the awards on the 4th November 2022. With so many finalists, three of them in one category, and that they always seem to have at least one award won, usually at least two, it is almost a certainty that Essex Social Care will win at least one award at The Social Work Awards.

Then it will be self congratulation all over everywhere, everywhere you look at something to do with Essex Social Care there will something about their win, or wins. Everything will be positive regarding how they act, it will all be absolutely horrific and incredibly difficult to cope with.

Why? The trial of Baby Malik’s parents starts on the 21st November. His mother is charged with his murder, along with other charges. His Father is charged with allowing the death of his son along with other charges.

Essex Social Workers will be called to give evidence regarding everything they know, and it will include decisions they made and decisions they didn’t make.

All to the backdrop of Essex County Council smugly showing off their Social Work Awards in as many places as possible.

While residents of Essex, and Harlow especially, look on in horror as and when the trial is reported on and we get what will no doubt be horrifying and upsetting details, Essex County Council will still be promoting their wins, as well as being all over the internet as a sponsor of the awards and lots of good things written about them, almost exclusively written by themselves with regards to everything to do with social care.

If Baby Malik was murdered, the only information the public has is that he died at 2 months old from a head injury and his mother has been charged with murder, the trial has not even started, therefore, no facts have been proven other than how he died, then it is ultimately the person who murdered him’s fault.

If he was murdered then that is the person who caused his death.

However, he was under a child protection plan that was meant to keep him safe, so questions need to be asked, lots of questions, which will be asked both in court and at a serious case review.

Baby Malik only lived for a very short time, it is an absolute tragedy and deeply upsetting. In death he deserves respect, part of that is the legal system coming to it’s conclusion about what happened, who was responsible, and if there were any failings.

Essex County Council are still mentioning their wins from last year, just over two weeks from the award ceremony they will be on a high from any win from the social work awards and it will literally be everywhere, just as the trial is starting.

Social work still has to go on even in the most difficult of circumstances, Covid being a great example of that, but spending £16,700 of public money to get yourselves vanity awards to brag about at almost the exact same time that the murder trial of a baby who was under a child protection plan is due to start is a terrible terrible thing, and very disrespectful of his very short life.

The trial date was set in January before the nominations were open so they knew when they made lots of entries that the awards would clash with the trial.

That said, as Essex County Council pages themselves rank highly in the news section of the internet, it will mean that all of the stories about how great Essex Social Care are for winning awards may be more visible than news about the trial. Burying bad news by flooding social media and the internet with how amazing you are could be mistaken for their choices in nominating so many people and spending so much money to ensure their name is tied in with something really positive such as award winning.

I think that a dignified silence during this time would have been much more respectful instead of paying for 30 social work employees to have a night of food and alcohol and hopefully win ECC some awards.

I’m not saying that Essex Children’s Social Care had anything to do with his death, i’m not saying that there were any failings, I have no information that would push me one way or the other. All I know is that children’s services were actively involved at the time of his death and he was on a child protection plan. All that means is that Essex Children’s Social Care will come under scrutiny, employees will be asked questions in court, there will be a serious case review.

For that alone I would have expected a respectful silence and not any of the sickening celebrating that is going to happen if they win anything that will extend over into the period where the trial is starting.

That is going to be harsh on so many people to see Essex Social Care still actively celebrating, and posts about how wonderful they are all over social media and the internet when details of a two month old childs life, and death will be wildly reported at the same time. That there was social care involvement has already been reported by people on local social media, and things have already been said regarding that link.

To find out that that two weeks before the trial started Essex County Social Care was living their best lives at the Social Care Awards, with three finalists in a Children’s Social worker category, and two finalists in a practice educator category, which are the people who teach the social workers how to social work as part of the Essex Social Care Academy, that will be hard for people to stomach. It’s unlikely to be popular amongst the residents of Essex who will be following the trial.

So that is my take on The Social Work Awards, a vanity award paid for almost exclusively by public money where all that is needed is someone with the right skills and knowledge of what boxes the judges have to tick to write the nomination to win an award.

Where even a totally fabricated nomination can get you through as a finalist.

On the 4th November, as some residents of Essex, and some social workers who are employed by ECC, will be going without food and heat because they cannot afford it, ECC will be spending at least £16,700 of our money for an ego boost.

I think that a lot of problems that service user have with social work would go away if those above would drop the ego. There should be no ego in social work, none at all.

So if you follow the hashtag #SWA22 anywhere on social media, especially on 4th November and after, you will see what I mean about ego, especially as i’m predicting that ECC will win in some of their categories, and their desperate goal is to receive the overall social worker of the year award.

It’s not just these awards I have a problem with, it’s all of the vanity awards ECC enter which I will write about in the next few posts. I cannot wrote about them all, There are too many, not including the Social Work Awards my estimate is that ECC spend in excess of £50,000 a year of public money participating in awards. Could be closer to £100.000, I can only estimate given the ones I know about.