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

People From Abroad Team

Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice



This unique partnership between a social work team and a local library has well and truly brought social work practice back into the community, supporting vulnerable and marginalised groups to access a wide range of services and adjust to life in the UK.


The People from Abroad team was set up in October 2016 to respond to the needs of migrants and Syrian refugees. The five team members took a creative approach to this new challenge, deciding to base themselves in the Millennium Library in Norfolk, which provides a non-threatening environment for clients and means staff can draw on other volunteer-based services, such as arts and craft, reading, and English exchange groups.


Just over a year after their formation, the team welcomed the first five Syrian families to the city. The links with the library have meant each child could be provided with a special bilingual book bag, and the team were also overwhelmed with donations to furnish accommodation for the families, dropped off at the 47 library branches in the county.


Despite being a new service, the team have already demonstrated how vital their work is in helping this client group to feel safe and settled in their new surroundings.


What was said about the team:


Anthony Douglas CBE, Chief Executive, Cafcass: “By operating out of the central library in Norwich and working so positively with a service user group who do not receive much public support, the service has taken a great risk and is helping some of the most vulnerable people coming into our country gain a foothold in a new more civilised life and existence.”


Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families: “Really enjoyed learning about this project - social work in action in the community, working alongside libraries, Fab!”


Service user feedback: “I just wanted to say thank you for finding the flat for the family and visiting them a number of times for various things. They are loving it. It is not often that they say positive things about their houses, but they have been expressing it with the volunteers.”


Corinne Avery, Acting Head of Service – Adult Mental Health, Norfolk County Council: “This model has embodied Norfolk County Councils Promoting Independence strategy by connecting individuals to community resources and supporting the development of skills to enable individuals to become self-reliant and engaged within the communities where they live.”



  • Andy Gill, BASW
  • Anthony Douglas CBE, Cafcass
  • Dave Thomas MBE, Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Patron & Shadow Minister for Children & Families
  • Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families
  • Tony Zaman, London Borough of Hillingdon



  • Divisional Based Intervention Team, Essex County Council
  • Leaving Care Team, North Yorkshire County Council
  • Love Barrow Families
  • People from Abroad Team, Norfolk County Council
  • Rob Manchester, Devon County Council / Devon NHS Partnership Trust
  • Super Power Group, Leeds City Council - SILVER AWARD WINNER