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

Carolyne Willow, Article 39

Championing Social Work Values



Carolyne boasts a long social work career, in which she has tirelessly championed the rights of children. After qualifying in 1988, she spent seven years in local authority children’s services, before moving into the voluntary sector to work as a children’s rights advocate. 


Between 2000 and 2012, she was the national coordinator of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England. Here, she coordinated two submissions to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and wrote extensively on advocacy and safeguarding children in custody.


In 2015, Carolyne set up a new charity, Article 39, which focuses on the rights of children in institutional settings. Her achievements with this fledgling charity have been remarkable, perhaps most notably leading the ‘Together for Children’ alliance to campaign against the exemption clauses in the Children and Social Work Bill, which risked limiting children’s rights.


Carolyne organised a petition that received over 100,000 signatures, and her colleagues said it was arguable whether the clauses would have been dropped, had it not been for Carolyne’s “energy, commitment and unflagging leadership”.


The judges praised Carolyne for significantly changing legislation for the better, challenging inequality and “absolutely campaigning for everything social workers believe in.”


What was said about Carolyne:


“Carolyne has significantly changed legislation for the better. She’s challenged inequality and social justice.” Marion Russell, Principal Social Worker, Cornwall Council


“Wow, what a journey. Absolutely advocating for everything we believe in.” Sarah Read O’Toole, Skylakes Social Work


“With all of her work for the charity, Carolyne remains focused on and upholds the core values of her social work background – defending and respecting the equality, worth and dignity of children whilst displaying both integrity and competence in all that she does. Carolyne is a tremendous Director and a fearless and powerful defender of children’s rights.” Alex Gask, Trustee, Article 39


“Too many in our profession fail to stand up publicly and speak out for vulnerable children in care and juvenile justice system. I have tremendous respect for Carolyne. One sentence? 'In a world where too many see the troublesome child, the child in care, or the child in custody, Carolyne sees only the child needing support - and then she offers it'.” Ian Dickson, Campaigner and former care leaver



  • Bianka Lang, Overall Social Worker of the Year Award Winner 2016
  • Brendan Clifford, Capacity4Care
  • Cath Gormally, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
  • Elizabeth Njenga, BASW
  • Marion Russell, Cornwall Council
  • Sarah Read O’Toole, Skylakes
  • Sharon Martin, National IRO Managers Partnership



  • Andrew Deller, Lifecraft
  • Carolyne Willow, Article 39 - GOLD AWARD WINNER
  • Nikki Mahony, Hampshire County Council - SILVER AWARD WINNER
  • Rachel Keetley, Norfolk County Council