UCLan Social Work lecturer shortlisted for top national award

Deborah Ford nominated for her outstanding work with students, carers and service users

A lecturer from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been shortlisted for a prestigious award in recognition of her outstanding work in supporting students and vulnerable members of the local community.

Deborah Ford, who has been selected as a finalist for Making a Difference in the annual Social Worker of the Year Awards and will find out if she has won at a national awards ceremony to be held at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel on Friday 29th November.

The awards are organised by The Social Work Awards charity, which aims to improve public awareness and understanding of social work by showing the positive impact of social workers in the wide range of roles they undertake. 

Deborah, who originally hails from Birmingham, is one of four finalists in the Making a Difference category, which recognises social workers who are employed outside of local authority settings. The winners from each category will compete against each other to be named the “Overall Social Worker of the Year 2019.”

In her role as a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University, Deborah has managed the MA in Social Work degree and has worked closely with the Community Engagement and Service User Support Group (Comensus), which engages with service users and assists students in developing their training.

Deborah has been nominated for her work as a lecturer at UCLan and also particularly for her work with Comensus, which gives both carers and service users of local social and mental health services the chance to have a say on how these areas are taught to students. 

When I discovered I had been nominated for the Making a Difference category I was completely surprised at first but when it began to sink in I was absolutely delighted.

Deborah said: ‘When I discovered I had been nominated for the Making a Difference category I was completely surprised at first but when it began to sink in I was absolutely delighted.

“In particular, to have been nominated by service users and carer colleagues and volunteers in Comensus, whom I have worked with for over 10 years, was wonderful and very humbling and meant so much to me. I am truly privileged, every day, to work with such wonderful people.”

Deborah first qualified as a social worker in 1985 and has worked at UCLan as a senior social work lecturer since 2010.

Steven Seymour, Service User and Carer Involvement Facilitator at UCLan said: “Throughout her time at the university Debbie has worked in partnership with members of the public to shift our understanding of social work practice, that social work is done with people not to them.

“She has championed public involvement in teaching and learning to social workers practicing in Lancashire and beyond. There are currently hundreds of social workers in practice who in part were taught by Debbie, truly making a huge difference.”

The Making a Difference award is sponsored by Tees Valley Local Authority Child and Adult Services and Sally Robinson, Director of Children’s and Joint Commissioning Services at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to support the Making a Difference award which recognises the exceptional contribution of social workers who are employed in settings outside of local authorities. All finalists show limitless dedication and passion to social work and should be immensely proud of their achievements.”

The Social Worker of the Year Awards are supported by Headline Sponsor Sanctuary Personnel; Corporate Partner the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and individual category supporters Barnardo’s, UNISON, Servelec, Children’s Social Work Matters and Tees Valley Local Authority Child and Adult Services. The awards are also supported by the local authorities of Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Sunderland, North Lincolnshire, Bradford, Devon, Kent, Sunderland, Hampshire and Essex.

For more information about the awards, visit www.socialworkawards.com

Deborah Ford

Deborah Ford

Tim Fernandez | 30 October 2019