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Social workers celebrated – plus a national award for Bhavna!

Published on Thursday, November 17, 2022

3 minute read

Adult Social Worker of the Year 2022 Bhavna Maher with her award

MORE than 120 social care staff from the city council have had their hard work and dedication recognised at a ‘Celebrating Success’ awards event.

The event, held at City Hall on 9 November, also included a celebration of a Leicester City Council social worker who has just won the Adult Social Worker of the Year award at a national awards ceremony, held in London.

Bhavna Maher (pictured), who works with people with street lifestyles, was recognised at the Social Worker of the Year awards for the work she does to help people turn their lives around when they are facing problems such as homelessness, drug misuse and mental health issues.

Bhavna said: “It is very humbling because I never thought I would get this recognition - all I was worried about was missing the last train back from the ceremony! My homeless community give me much, so I hope and wish that I can continue to do my level best to support them.

“I’d like to thank all my colleagues who support me, as well as the other organisations who work with me to help people to engage with our services and improve their lives.”

Other staff celebrated at the City Hall event in Leicester include Joanna Stapleton, a team leader in adult social care who supports social work students on placement – a really important role that helps to build the workforce. Joanna received her Practice Education 1 qualification, which helps her to support social workers of the future.

Joanna said: “The training for the Practice Education qualification has reignited my drive for enabling change for the people we work with, as well as supporting learners and newly qualified workers.  The course gave me an opportunity to critically reflect on my practice, to gain new skills and insights.  It has been helpful as a team leader and I have now just completed the following PE 2 course.”

Caroline Fanthorpe from children’s services won in the Outstanding Achievement category for her commitment to developing a confident and competent social work team. Caroline consistently provides a nurturing and supportive environment which allows workers within the team to reflect and develop their confidence and resilience to support the children and families they work with. 

Caroline said: “I feel very proud and very much enjoy working for Leicester City Council. The way I am able to work is also a reflection of the support I receive, not just from my manager, but from all areas of children’s services - people are always willing to help. And a big thank you must go to my team, who always put the children they are working with first and go above and beyond to ensure positive outcomes for families.”

Maria King won the Outstanding Contribution award. Adult social worker Maria was described by her nominator as “always a calm and reasonable voice in a crisis and she has a truly wonderful way of dealing with complex, intractable or explosive situations which leaves all parties feeling heard and understood. She is also a wonderfully caring colleague and has received an exceptionally high number of commendations from people who draw on support, their families and carers.”

Maria said: “I’m overwhelmed that someone nominated me in the first place and the beautiful things that were said about me. To me, I’m just doing my job and being the best person, I can be. I have tears in my eyes with joy.”

As well as these awards, staff who have been with the city council for 20, 25 or 30 years received long service awards, and there was a celebration of staff who have successfully gained a relevant qualification, or completed the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) programme.

Deputy city mayor for social care and anti-poverty, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: “It is absolutely wonderful to be able to celebrate so many achievements of our hard-working staff, including national recognition for Bhavna. These awards demonstrate the huge commitment and dedication we are lucky to have in our social care workforce. They do such a difficult job with professionalism and compassion, and I am delighted to be able to thank them all for that.”

Martin Samuels, strategic director for social care and education, said: “Bhavna’s award is truly exceptional. Part of what makes her exceptional is the way that she is also thanking colleagues for their support. This demonstrates the incredible teamwork that is one of the defining characteristics of the way we work here in Leicester. It’s this attitude that is so vital to creating a workplace where we all support each other - and in doing so, we are then able to support the people in our city who need it most.”

Find out more about the city council’s social care services at