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

Jackie Dowding, London Borough of Havering

Children's Social Worker of the Year



Jackie is described by her colleagues as “the social worker that all social workers aspire to be, and the social worker that all vulnerable children deserve” – and it’s easy to see why.


Jackie taught herself to read and write, and qualified as a social worker in her 40s. Now 74, she remains committed to frontline practice, never missing a visit or review, and even regularly makes a 12-hour round trip to Wales to visit one of the children on her caseload.


She has often been commended by judges, independent reviewing officers and Ofsted for her dedication and the testimonials in her nomination highlighted how the passion and advocacy she has for the young people in her care is “second to none”.


One example of this was Jackie advocating strongly for looked-after children whose experience of care was being impacted dramatically by having different social workers. Her intervention resulted in long-term cases now only being held by permanent team members.


Jackie’s sense of humour also shone through in her nomination, with stories of her recently ‘rapping’ at an event in celebration of looked-after children’s achievements. Tellingly, the young people present all commented on how they wished she was their social worker.


What was said about Jackie:


“Jackie isn’t conventional. Here’s someone who is absolutely still an individual.” Paul Ringer, Chief Executive, Spurgeons


 “She has huge creativity and has covered every area. She’s a natural who has added to her repertoire and her social work toolbox. She hasn’t stood still!” Prof June Thoburn


“Jackie could be described as a lioness; she is committed, fiercely protective of her young people and is not afraid to voice her opinion with management when advocating for them. Likewise, she builds such strong and respectful relationships with her young people that they are able to see where her advice and decisions come from even if not agreed to.” Lorraine Bartlett, Team Manager


“I have worked with Jackie for some years now. I am in awe of her energy, strength and understanding, her wonderful way of telling a child how it is, but ending that supervision on a laugh and a wink. A truly one off who is a wonderful social worker and support.” Foster carer



  • Emily Tiplady-Ead, Children’s Social Worker of the Year Award Winner 2016
  • Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children & Families
  • June Thoburn, Outstanding Contribution Award Winner 2016
  • Paul Ringer, Spurgeons



  • Deoin Grant, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • Donna Kessler, Hertfordshire County Council
  • Hannah Tull, Essex County Council
  • Jackie Dowding, London Borough of Havering - GOLD AWARD WINNER
  • Jason Sedgman, Central Bedfordshire Council - SILVER AWARD WINNER
  • Mark Davies, Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Nicola Silk, Rutland County Council
  • Vanessa Alexander, Ealing Council