Portsmouth social worker wins student of the year award

A newly qualified social worker at Portsmouth City Council has won a top national award.

Lucy Collier won the student social worker of the year award for her role in supporting children with disabilities and their families.

The Social Worker of the Year Awards was held on Wednesday 17 November and streamed online. Two other Portsmouth City Council social workers, Liam Mills and Amanda Haylock were shortlisted for children’s social worker of the year and team leader of the year respectively.

Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “I would like to congratulate Lucy for her immense efforts to support children and young people in the city who have additional needs. For someone who has only recently qualified, Lucy has shown professionalism and resilience, going above and beyond to support local families.

“I’m really proud of our workforce in children’s social care who have maintained face-to-face contact with local residents throughout the pandemic when restrictions allowed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single social worker who has supported our community during this time.”

Lucy originally trained to be a teacher but had a particular interest in helping children with disabilities. She decided to re-train as a social worker. Lucy joined Portsmouth City Council in May 2021 after a course at the University of Winchester.

Lucy has developed a training package that helps social workers support children with disabilities. This includes information on respite care, which enables parents or carers to take a break.

Lucy said: “The fact that I had been shortlisted was amazing but to win the student social worker of the year award is incredible. I would like to thank my team and line manager for supporting me since I started at the council. I’ve always wanted to help children and families fulfil their potential and remove barriers for people with disabilities.”

Liam Mills, who was shortlisted in the children’s social worker of the year category works with children whose families were impacted by complex issues. He explained challenging subjects through the use of pictures he made himself.

Liam said: “To be recognised in any awards ceremony is a massive boost. To receive a collective thank you at a surprise ceremony with colleagues was something else. This was a true team effort though. I would like to thank my line manager for supporting me over the last 18 months, through mentoring and training.

“The council has a fantastic culture of support through its Stronger Futures training academy. It has helped shape my practice, ensuring the support I give is tailored to the needs of the individual.”

During the pandemic, social workers have been on the frontline supporting children, young people and families when they need it most. Examples in Portsmouth include the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) who have worked tirelessly with the police, local NHS trust and other organisations to ensure same day decisions are made on time.

Sally Hodges, interim director for children and families at Portsmouth City Council said: “Social workers are key people in providing support when families need it most. Liam, Lucy and Amanda are a real testament to the service. We are immensely proud of them and our entire workforce who go above and beyond every day to help our local community.”

A recording of the Social Worker of the Year Awards is now available on their website. Those interested can visit www.socialworkawards.com.

 Sarah Daly (deputy director, children and families) Lucy Collier (social worker) Councillor Suzy Horton (Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Liam Mills (social worker) and Clare Poyner (principal social worker)

Left to right – Sarah Daly (deputy director, children and families) Lucy Collier (social worker) Councillor Suzy Horton (Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Liam Mills (social worker) and Clare Poyner (principal social worker)