Social work mentor gains national honour

Karen Maude collects her Practice Educator of the Year award

A social worker who helps train student social workers at Bradford College has been honoured for her contribution to the profession at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards. 

Karen Maude was named Practice Educator of the Year at the awards ceremony, which took place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London and was hosted by BBC News reporter and care leaver Ashley John-Baptiste.

Karen works alongside students on social work degrees at University Centre Bradford College. She supports them on work placements in a range of settings and also delivers some teaching sessions to help prepare students for placements.

The 63-year-old, who has dedicated herself to mentoring students since retiring from a 24-year career with Calderdale Council Adult Social Care, was one of 17 category winners on the night drawn from 93 finalists.

The awards organisers said Karen was recognised by colleagues and students alike as a “legendary” supervisor who truly walks alongside those she supports, on hand at all hours of the day to answer questions and offer encouragement.

Karen, of Lightcliffe, said: “It was an absolute privilege to receive this award. I have been a Practice Educator for many years and aim to bring out the potential in each social work student to be the very best they can be, encouraging them to develop their understanding of social work underpinned by a strong value base.”

Brian Mitchell, Head of School for Social Care and Community Practice at University Centre Bradford College, said: “This is an astounding achievement and one Karen should rightly be proud of. Students and colleagues from Bradford College are really pleased for her securing the title Practice Educator of the Year. Karen’s support, advice and guidance to students across the social work degree programme have been invaluable.

“Colleagues appreciate that Karen is always ready to listen and talk through any issues that students may be experiencing and has a unique ability to find learning in every situation. This approach is complemented by her ability to be creative and innovative with ideas and relate these directly to practice.

“The award is due recognition and acknowledgement of Karen’s brilliance within her role. The nomination was endorsed by all the key stakeholders within The Bradford Social Work Teaching Partnership. Bradford College students and staff from across the partnership provided many of the testimonies within the nomination.

“Karen continues to work with our students, sharing her expertise, experience, empathy and passion. We are very fortunate to have people like Karen working with our students.”

Helen Routledge, a social work student who has benefited from Karen’s support, said: “She has a wide depth of experiences and knowledge and as a practice educator she is also someone who goes that extra mile to support students.”

Another student, Kirsty Lyness, said she was “overjoyed” that Karen had won and that the award was “well deserved”.

Fellow student Laure Gott spoke of Karen’s warmth and empath and added: “Karen is everything a social worker should be.”

Bev Maybury, Strategic Director Health and Wellbeing, Bradford Council: “Karen is social work. She truly believes in the strengths and positivity of the profession and that is what resonates in the support she provides to the students. Karen ensures that her students receive the most comprehensive of practice support, which supplements and enhances their social work education at the College or University. She goes above and beyond in every bit of support she provides.”

Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults (England), gave a keynote speech at the awards evening and endorsements were provided by The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education; Nadhim Zahawi MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Children and Families; Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Care; and Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families.

Karen and the other gold award winners will now be invited to attend an exclusive Parliamentary Reception which will be held at the Palace of Westminster in the spring. The reception will be their opportunity to celebrate their achievements with representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Education.

The Social Worker of the Year Awards were founded in 2006 with the aim of improving the understanding and reputation of the profession.