The 2018 Social Worker of the Year awards took place in London on Friday 30th November. Entries for this year's awards open on Wednesday 3rd April. #SWA19

Children in Need Team - Winsford & Northwich, Cheshire West and Chester Council

Team of the Year, Children's Services


Cheshire West and Chester’s Winsford and Northwich CIN staff don’t have it easy. Over the past 18 months the 27-strong (plus a senior manager) group have carried significantly heavier caseloads than their two sister teams within the local authority area.


Recognising this burden, at the back end of 2015 a multi-agency summit chaired by the local director of children’s services came up with an action plan to help staff stay on top of their workload. Forging close relationships with partner agencies has helped, as has an able, stable management team (a ‘good’ service-wide Ofsted rating at the start of 2016 included an ‘outstanding’ accolade for leadership). Reflective practice has also been implemented within the team, including regular, well-attended peer reflection and peer development sessions.


Over the past two years staff retention has been steady, reducing the need for agency social workers. The knock-on effects have been 50% cost savings – and an invaluable stability in terms of service delivery.


Recent feedback reflects the latter benefit, with service users and fellow professionals describing team members as the best social workers they have come across. As the judges put it: “Standard teams doing amazing things every day should not be underestimated.”


What was said about the Children in Need Team:

'This team has lived and worked through tough times but they've stayed focused and together. Teams doing amazing things every day should not be underestimated.' Paul Ringer, Deputy Chief Executive, Spurgeons


The team shows real innovation and high quality leadership. They have strongly promoted reflection and supervision with good impact and quality of work.Annie Hudson, Interim Strategic Director, Children’s Services, Lambeth Council


“This is a team that clearly values and supports its social workers, prioritising ongoing professional development, whilst also supporting students and newly qualified social workers. This has formed the solid foundation for good social work practice which achieves positive outcomes for children and families.” Emma Taylor, Director of Children's Social Care, Cheshire West & Chester Council


This Social Worker has always gone above and beyond their duties, without each of these amazing people involved in our lives I would hate to think what or where we would be. Words can’t explain what a huge impact they have made.” Service user



  • Andrew Williamson, Exter Primary Care
  • Annie Hudson, Lambeth Council
  • Nick Berbiers, Children's Services Alliance
  • Paul Ringer, Spurgeons
  • Sarah Read O'Toole, Skylakes Social Work



  • Adoption Team, Peterborough City Council
  • Children in Need Team - Winsford & Northwich, Cheshire West and Chester Council - GOLD AWARD WINNER
  • East/North East Looked After Children (Younger) Team - Leeds City Council - SILVER AWARD WINNER
  • Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team - Essex County Council
  • Horizon, Coventry City Council - SILVER AWARD WINNER
  • Kingston Leaving Care/UASC Team, Achieving for Children
  • Multi-Agency Screening Team, North Yorkshire County Council