Top award for Northumberland social worker Zoe

From left, James Rook, Ashley John-Baptiste, Zoe Williamson and Peter Hay, Social Worker of the Year Awards chairman. Picture by Matt Grayson.
From left, James Rook, Ashley John-Baptiste, Zoe Williamson and Peter Hay, Social Worker of the Year Awards chairman. Picture by Matt Grayson.

A Northumberland social worker has received national recognition after winning the top prize at the prestigious Social Worker of the Year Awards.

Zoe Williamson – who works for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – was named the overall social worker of the year after receiving the mental health social worker of the year accolade earlier in the evening at the ceremony, which took place last week in London.

The judges said they felt moved by her nomination, commending her for her ‘care, compassion, honesty and positive focus’.

She was also described as an ‘asset to the profession’.

Speaking just after she collected her awards, Zoe said: “It feels totally surreal and absolutely amazing – I can’t believe it. I felt very privileged just to be nominated.

“Social work is about going in with an open heart and an open mind and using your skills to help people every day who are struggling the most.

“This evening has been unbelievable from start to finish. I can’t believe I’ve got this far.”

Northumbria Healthcare delivers a range of adult social care services in Northumberland in partnership with Northumberland County Council.

Coun Veronica Jones, cabinet member for adult health and well-being at the county council, said: “Zoe exemplifies the outstanding support social workers provide on a daily basis to help people in Northumberland and I am delighted that she has been recognised with these national awards.”

Zoe was presented with her accolades by care leaver and BBC news reporter Ashley John-Baptiste in front of an audience of more than 450 social workers and representatives of the profession.

The Social Worker of the Year Awards were founded in 2006 by independent practitioner Beverley Williams, with the aim of improving the understanding and reputation of the profession.

This year, the awards received a record-breaking number of nominations and 93 social workers and social work teams in both children’s and adult services were selected as finalists across 16 different categories.

James Rook, chief executive of the award’s headline sponsor Sanctuary Social Care, said: “Zoe had everything we were looking for in the winner of the overall social worker of the year award.

“She clearly lives and breathes the profession and what shines through is her dedication, compassion and willingness to ‘go the extra mile’.

“She is a true role model and an asset to her organisation.”

Coun Andrew Leadbetter, portfolio holder for adult social care and health services at Devon County Council, which sponsored the mental health social worker of the year award, said: “I was thrilled to present Zoe with the gold award for mental health social worker of the year.

“She is clearly well-liked and valued by her colleagues and the people that she supports.

“She should be very proud of her achievements.”