The 2018 Social Worker of the Year awards took place in London on Friday 30th November. Entries for this year's awards open in April 2019. #SWA18

Essex County Council

Best Social Work Employer



‘Serious about social work’ is the ethos that underpins Essex Council’s approach to supporting its workforce, and this is clearly reflected in the pioneering initiatives the authority has put in place to really enable its staff to learn, develop, and deliver great work.


A notable example is the Essex Social Care Academy, which provides training for staff. It was recognised in a recent Ofsted inspection for its focus on embedding “strengths-based approaches and systemic therapeutic intervention”, and contributing to the creation of a highly-skilled workforce. The success of the academy has also led to Essex being the only local authority in the country to have been awarded accreditation from the British Association of Social Workers for excellence in continuing professional development.


The council has also created a stable workforce with limited use of agency staff, which has been in part due to its development of a high-quality Assessed and Supported Year in Employment programme. But there’s also an obvious commitment to making staff feel valued, including an annual awards ceremony to recognise achievements - and this has undoubtedly made a difference. As one social work manager commented: “I believe that employees have a real sense of ‘family’ here and are loyal to the organisation”.


What was said about the team:


Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults: “This employer has managed to put in place a sustainable and comprehensive approach to supporting social workers across all areas to ensure that children families and vulnerable adults receive the best possible help.”


Nicky Skinner, Team Leader of the Year - Adult Services Award Winner 2017: “I've gained a real sense of an organisation with a strong commitment to staff learning and development where workers feel valued and have a commitment to putting the person first. Workers have confidence in the Director and the senior management team who are seen s involved and approachable by their staff.”


Bianka Lang - Team Manager, Assessment and Intervention Team Chelmsford & Maldon 1: “I started to work for Essex County Council in July 2004 as a social worker and have felt supported by my organisation from the start. I was always encouraged to undertake training and to widen my horizon, Essex has always allowed me to quench my thirst for knowledge and have continuously supported to develop me.”


Paul McGee, Head of Essex Social Care Academy (ESCA) & Principal Child & Family Social Worker:“In my social work career over the last 24 years I have worked for a range of authorities in delivering and supporting children, families and adults with a common feature of a committed staff group determined to and making a difference. Essex for me takes things to the next level - what sets it apart? In my view it is the coming together of the community with the Council for a shared goal of “helping all people in Essex County to lead the best lives they can.”



  • Brian Mitchell, Bradford College
  • Nicky Skinner, Team Leader of the Year, Adult Services Award Winner 2017
  • Marion Russell, Cornwall Council
  • Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults



  • Achieving for Children
  • Cafcass
  • Doncaster Children’s Services Trust
  • Essex County Council
  • London Borough of Lambeth
  • Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Stockport Family - SILVER AWARD WINNER