Alnwick social worker awarded MBE

An Alnwick-based social worker has been awarded an MBE in the King’s New Year Honours.
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Susan Ghulam is manager of Barndale Short Break, the residential respite care service, for Northumberland County Council.

The 56-year-old receives the award for services to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

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"It’s come completely out of the blue,” said Susan. “It’s a complete and utter surprise – but a nice one. I love doing my job.”

Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool.Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool.
Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool.

Susan has worked as a residential social worker since 1999 and at Barndale since 2007.

During her time at Barndale, she has ensured that vulnerable children and their families have a sanctuary to support them through difficult situations, including supporting families within their homes.

She provided clear leadership throughout the pandemic, keeping the service open during all lockdowns, making sure there was round the clock care when there was nowhere else to turn.

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She also worked off duty to allow her staff to contact her at any time and supported other services within Northumberland, sharing her good practice and ensuring as many children received the correct care.

Alnwick social worker Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool and grandchildren Sophia and Willow.Alnwick social worker Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool and grandchildren Sophia and Willow.
Alnwick social worker Susan Ghulam with husband Rasool and grandchildren Sophia and Willow.

The service has been deemed outstanding by Ofsted with Susan receiving praise from inspectors for her care and enthusiasm.

Believing that no child should be left behind, she has also allowed her service to be used by social care, for children who face challenges being placed in foster care.

Her influence and approach have spread not only locally in Barndale, but also to mainstream schools who manage autism across Northumberland and Newcastle. She has been asked by a headteacher of two mainstream primary schools for her expertise on meeting the needs of pupils with autism.

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Susan, who is married to Rasool and has two children, James and Charlotte, is particularly looking forward to sharing the news with her dad, Raymond Nelson.

"My mum died on New Year’s Eve last year so the MBE will be a far nicer way of marking the date,” said Susan. “It’ll be particularly nice on a difficult day for my dad, who has Parkinson’s, to give him some good news.”

Susan, from Killingworth, also has two grandchildren, Sophia and Willow.