Cornwall social worker scoops silver at social worker of the year awards

Falmouth Packet: James Sawford won a silver award for newly qualified social workers James Sawford won a silver award for newly qualified social workers

A social worker from Cornwall Council has been recognised at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards.

James Sawford, who is based at the Council's Liskeard offices, won silver in the Newly Qualified Adult Social Worker of the Year category as a result of his outstanding work with adults.

James said: "I was very humbled to be put forward for the award, so coming second was a lovely shock. I was even happier that I could share the evening with senior practitioner Maggie Browne and my mentor and practice educator Wendy Lloyd who put me forward for the award. The evening was amazing; it was great to network with other social workers from around the UK and really celebrate social work as a profession."

The award is particularly significant, as social work is a profession that is increasingly difficult to recruit people to, and Cornwall faces a growing shortage of qualified social workers.

James explains: "I’ve always enjoyed working with people, whether that’s been on a tour of duty or volunteering with disabled people. As I’ve learnt more about what makes a difference to people’s lives, I wanted to do more to help them achieve their goals.

"Social workers work with the most vulnerable people in society. While the NHS and other statutory services might be involved in dealing with particular issues, we’re with them long-term, making sure they stay well and can live as independently as they wish.

"Every day you’re presented with new challenges. I really enjoy it and it’s a good feeling when you’ve made a difference to someone."

James had a variety of work experience before choosing a social work career. This included six years in the armed forced, during which time he embarked on two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan, training exercises to Belize and Norway and the Brecon Beacons. When James was discharged, he volunteered for Autism Care, progressing to a community care officer within the social inclusion team for Nottingham City Council.

James graduated from Derby University with a 2:1 in September 2012, and returned to Cornwall to join the Council’s adult ongoing care team, where he works with people from the age of 18 with physical disabilities, dementia, chronic long-term medical conditions, autism and mental ill-health, and their carers.

James’ manager Maggie Browne, who made the nomination, said: "James is passionate and enthusiastic, and has a positive effect on the team and all those who meet him. He is eager to expand his knowledge and does not shy away from difficult discussions or situations. He has demonstrated the flexibility and resilience which are so important for newly-qualified social workers in their first, demanding year."

Councillor Judith Haycock, Cornwall Council cabinet member for health and adult care, added: "I am proud that in Cornwall we have many excellent social work practitioners, which James’ award represents. At a time when we are finding it difficult to recruit social workers, it is increasingly important that we encourage and develop people who have recently gained their qualifications and offer them a good career path for the future."

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