Solihull social worker wins silver award for Mental Health Social Worker of the year – November 2018

Congratulations to Lara Box who won the silver award for Mental Health Social Worker of the Year at the prestigious Social Worker of the Year Awards, which took place on Friday 30 November in London. The award recognises social workers in England who specialise in mental health and are excelling in delivering positive outcomes for the people they support.

Lara was commended by the judges for showing commitment to not only applying her knowledge and experience to her own work but in helping to mentor and educate others in the field of mental health. She was also praised for her success in building relationships with people who are often hard to reach. Lara has been exceptional in developing frontline work on the local and national issue of safeguarding young people being subjected to sexual exploitation.

A huge well done must also go to Louise Redsull, from the All Age Disability team, who was a finalist in the Adult Social Worker category of the same awards.

Solihull social worker’s nominated for Social Worker of the year awards – November 2018

Two social workers from Solihull have been selected as finalists in the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2018 as a result of their outstanding work with vulnerable adults.

Louise Redsull and Lara Box, who work within Solihull Council’s All Age Disability and Mental Health teams, have been nominated for Adult Social Worker and Mental Health Social Worker of the Year prizes and will find out if they have won at an exclusive awards ceremony which will take place in London in November.

Louise and Lara are two of 93 finalists across 16 categories and the winners from each category will compete against each other to be named the “Overall Social Worker of the Year 2018.”

The prestigious awards ceremony is the leading celebration of its kind in the social care sector, and recognises the achievements and successes of the profession’s most innovative and dedicated social workers.

Councillor Karen Grinsell, Solihull’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Louise and Lara have been shortlisted for this prestigious accolade. Just getting to this stage is a fantastic achievement and one they should both be immensely proud of.

“The care sector is a tough industry to work in so it’s great that these awards recognise the dedication and commitment of individuals who work hard to keep our local residents safe and well.

“I wish Louise and Lara the best of luck for the awards ceremony in November.”

Nicole Miners, Sales Director for award sponsor Servelec Social Care, said: “This award recognises the outstanding work of an adult social worker – somebody who constantly strives to do what matters to the people they support and make a positive difference to their lives. Everyone who has made the final should be exceptionally proud.”

The awards were judged by leading influencers in the social work sector including Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo, Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield OBE and Maris Stratulis (England Manager, British Association of Social Workers). People who have received support from social workers were also represented on the judging panel.

The Social Worker of the Year Awards are supported by Headline Sponsor Sanctuary Social Care; Corporate Partner the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), Media Partner The Guardian, and individual category supporters, Barnardo’s, UNISON, Servelec HSC, Children’s Social Work Matters and the London Borough of Lambeth. The awards are also supported by the local authorities of North Lincolnshire, Bradford, Devon, Kent, Sunderland, Hampshire and Essex (in partnership with Capita) as well as the Tees Valley Local Authority Child and Adult Services – a partnership between the local authorities of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-On-Tees.

Sparkle Up Day – September 2018

‘Best Sparkly Individual Award’ went to Dom Ferro from the 0-25 SEND Team

As is a bit of a tradition now, this year’s ‘Sparkle up’ day took place on 19th September 2018 and saw staff in sparkling outfits to raise money for OVOS (Our Voice, Our Service). Staff from Engage collected donations from those who took part across the Council, totalling an amazing £850!

There were a number of sparkly outfits worn on the day with OVOS having the final say on the best dressed. The winners received a prize and a certificate, so congratulations to them! OVOS will use the money raised to fund events and activities, or sponsor an achievement award to be presented at a ‘celebration event’ next year.

For more information about OVOS, please see Solihull’s Get It Sorted website:

Ofsted Inspection – December 2017

In October 2017 we experienced a focused Ofsted inspection as part of the new ILACS Framework. We are really pleased with what the inspectors found, as published in their report dated 1 December 2017. The inspection focused on the experiences of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and the experiences of children leaving care. Inspectors looked at a range of evidence, including undertaking case discussions with social workers and met with a number of young people. They also looked at local authority performance management and quality assurance information and children’s case records. We know that we have demonstrated improvement across the board since our last inspection so we were excited to show the inspectors what we’ve achieved in this area of practice, which as an organisation that’s passionate about corporate parenting, is really important.

Our key areas of strength were:

Our social workers and personal advisers demonstrate an investment and enthusiasm in ensuring that young peoples’ needs are understood and met as far as possible.

We have really good approaches to supporting our young people into independence. This includes good accommodation and supporting young people to access employment, education and training.

Inspectors found that almost all care leavers are in suitable accommodation and there was an increasing use of Staying Put arrangements, whereby young people can stay with their foster carer until they are 21.

Evidence of good training and development to support the team to understand and meet the needs of care leavers and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Regular supervision and managerial support was clearly evident, as well as the use of research in assessments to identify and meet needs.

As ever, we need to build on our strengths and continue to improve, but we’re really glad to get the feedback from Ofsted that evidences the hard work and dedication of our social workers and personal assistants.

To read the letter and our other review reports please visit:

Celebrating Social Work Nov 2017

On 15 November, members of the social care workforce from both Children and Adult services were congratulated for completing professional development activities at the Workforce development Celebration Awards 2017, held in the Civic Suite.

The afternoon was filled with celebration as over 50 hard-working social workers, support workers, social care facilitators and managers were rewarded for the commitment and passion they bring to their jobs and Solihull Council. Some of the awards that were given were Graduate Certificates in Practice Education and Level 5 Diploma in Leadership, which can take over two years to complete.

Chief Executive Nick Page started the event by saying: “The work you do is highly respected and considered. We see amazing examples of social work and the impact it has on our residents. I am proud to say that the majority of feedback we receive from service users is outstanding. You all bring precision and passion to the organisation and I am proud to work with you.”

Speeches were given at the beginning of the event, including three very powerful and moving words from guest speakers, Clenton Farquharson MBE (Solihull citizen), Miguel Stone (apprentice) and Ann-Maria Mitchell (former Solihull student and now social worker, who won silver in the National social work awards for Assessed and supported year in Employment – ASYE).

Rupinder Minhas, Children in Need Team Manager, was proud to watch her team be awarded for their hard work and said: “Six people from my team have successfully completed the ASYE course. It is a pleasure to watch my colleagues grow and develop through their course.”

Becky Bennett, Adult social worker completed her Unit 1 Practice Education course and is going on to stage 2. She said: “It is nice to reflect on what we’ve achieved and that the Council recognises our achievements and wants to celebrate them.”

Well done to the brilliant workers from Adults and Children’s services for all their hard work, energy and dedication to their jobs and for successfully completing their courses, alongside the dedication of the Workforce Development team that we have here in Solihull.

Sparkle Up Day Oct 2017

This year’s ‘Sparkle Up Day’ took place on 20th October, with staff “sparkling up” to raise money for OVOS (Our Voice, Our Services). Staff from Engage collected donations from those who took part across the Council, totalling £786! Photos of glittering staff were then judged on their sparkly outfits by members of OVOS. The winners received a prize and a certificate.

All staff donations from the week meant that we were able to present OVOS with the total sum of £3,830 which is an amazing achievement. OVOS will use the money to fund events and activities, sponsor an achievement award to be presented at next year’s ‘Celebration Event’, and organise training or development programmes to help prepare care leavers for independent living.

For more information about OVOS, please see Solihull’s Get It Sorted website:

Signs of Safety

In Solihull, we want to help our social workers and families focus on the important things. Signs of Safety is our chosen practice framework in Solihull, and we’re really proud of how our workers are using this model to engage families and young people to focus on what’s working well, what we’re worried about and what needs to happen. We have successfully trained over 90% of the workforce, and have developed templates that fit with the model, but allow social workers the freedom to be creative where they need to be. As a result, our feedback from families and external auditors has been really positive.

It’s important to us that social workers, support workers, managers and IROs all have the right tools to use and feel confident in using them. When you join Solihull MBC, we will enrol you on Signs of Safety training but you will also have access to a team champion and also monthly practice forums to consider how you use Signs of Safety and help to develop a more refined understanding of the model.

Solihull’s Petch Tool; for screening primary aged children vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation continues to be a challenging area for social workers. The dynamics happening for young people are complex and often difficult to unpick.  Solihull’s Petch tool for screening primary aged children vulnerable to CSE is developing well. We’re really proud of the innovative approach and its use by our partner agencies who are helping us to intervene earlier where we need to. We’re also seeing a growth in the use of Graded Care Profile by social workers and partners meaning that families can understand neglect and get the help they need in a timely way.  

Giant’s Film Premiere May 2017

The child actors who played Jack and Ellie in the Giant’s film.

A ground-breaking film highlighting the need for foster carers who can make a difference to the life of a looked after child, especially those who can help keep brothers and sisters together was premiered in May 2017.

The film was a joint initiative between 13 local authorities including Solihull. The 3 minute film ‘Giants’ was produced with Reel Twenty Media and tells the story of Jack and Ellie, a brother and sister who want to stay together when they find themselves in foster care.

The theme of ‘giants’ was devised to depict people who act as role models to young people in care such as their foster carers and teachers, and to highlight the strong bond between siblings as they care for each other in life and become ‘giants’ to each other.

The local authorities, who worked together to produce ‘Giants’ are Solihull Council, City of Wolverhampton Council, Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council, Telford and Wrekin Council, Walsall Council, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Sandwell Council, Worcestershire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Derby City Council and Staffordshire County Council.

The launch was attended by invited guests from each local authority including foster carers, care leavers, councillors, chief executives and officers, as well as representatives from The Fostering Network and the cast and crew of the film, who all saw the finished film for the first time. Foster carers; Amarjit Tatter, Phil Thorneycroft, Michelle and Steve Harris, David Burgess and Mark O’Connor attended the event.

The film launch was been timed to coincide with the start of Foster Care Fortnight, the UK’s biggest foster carer recruitment campaign, which ran from the 8th – 22nd May ‘Giants’ is available to view online at, on Twitter @SolihullFoster, the Fostering for Solihull Facebook page and on the Solihull Fostering You Tube channel.


Foster Carer Awards Events Mar 2017

Jean and Ken Jones, have been foster carers with Solihull for 36 years.

The outstanding efforts of Solihull foster carers were recognised at the Foster Carer Awards Event in March organised and hosted by the Fostering Service.

The award categories included peer nominations, social worker nomination and recognition of long service for those who have provided care for ten or more years. We wanted to recognise the efforts of all foster carers for all that they do for children and young people in Solihull, whether they are mainstream, connected persons, or part-time carers.

Social worker nominations were broken down into four different categories; ‘Flexibility and positivity’, ‘Resilience’, ‘Preparation for permanence’ and an ‘Outstanding contribution’ to fostering in Solihull.

Peer nominations were invited from foster carers to recognise the efforts of other foster carers and there were 4 award recipients in this category, Nora Reid, Steve and Emma Moore, and Helen Jones. Over 50 carers were able to attend the lunchtime event. The general consensus or carers was that it was an enjoyable event that has helped revitalise their feeling of being valued by the service.

The session finished with congratulatory words from the fostering team manager, Lauren Hirst. This reflected the sentiment of the event which also saw the Mayor, members of the fostering team and a care leaver thank carers for all they hard work they do by providing a home to some of the most vulnerable children ad young people in the borough.

Some of the feedback from carers who attended the event:

“A huge thank you, it was so good to see the achievements of fellow carers recognised like this. It was wonderful to hear comments from Sian and her experiences of care in Solihull”.

“This event made me feel valued and part of the Solihull fostering community. I enjoyed the lunch and found the networking on the day invaluable”.

“We need to do this every year”.

Our Voice Our Services (OVOS) Celebration Event Feb 2017

The OVOS Celebration Event on the 23rd February 2017 was amazing and so rewarding to the Children and young people as well as the staff who helped to organise the event.

The theme of the event was chosen by the OVOS group as a Circus theme, what a wonderful colourful imagination our Children and Young People have.

As the event was a Circus theme all staff dressed up in Circus attire to make the event more funny for the Children and Young People, even some of the Children and Young People dressed up for the event.

And the event was help at The Renewal Christian Centre, with great support from their staff.

The whole event was planned with constant consultation with the OVOS group to make sure that it was OVOS led the whole way through. We wanted them to choose it all as this was to celebrate them.

We had a great turnout of 67 Children and Young People who attended the event, along with carers and a great number of support from our corporate parents in Solihull.

We made the event as full of life as we could, with stalls and games with prizes so that every Child and Young Person went home with a gift.

Along with the stalls and games, there was popcorn and candyfloss which the Children and Young People loved.

We had as great amount of support from local businesses for donations of the prizes for the stalls, such as Hampers (Costa) and little trinkets.

There was enough for everyone to have a great time and go home buzzing.

Each Child and Young Person received an award for their achievements, there were also nominated awards sponsored by JLR and Engage.

There was so much positive feedback from carers and staff after the event, which has been put into the thank you letters along with brilliant pictures out to the businesses that donated.

We look forward to the next OVOS Celebration Event in 2018 and make it just as much of a huge success as 2017’s event.

For further information, please see Solihull’s Get It Sorted website, for children and young people in care and for those who have already left:

Celebration Event Nov 2016

November saw an award ceremony celebrating social workers and support workers on completing their continued professional development. Awards received ranged from newly qualified social workers’ Assessed and Supported Year in  Employment and Cultural Awareness modules to  Graduate Certificates in Practice Education.

Colleagues who completed the awards had positive feedback about their experience,  explaining that they were “well supported” and they felt “more confident in their skills” and were  able to “put the training into use in their roles”.

Chief Executive Nick Page welcomed colleagues to both ceremonies. Nick paid tribute to the value Celebrations for colleagues’ professional development of the work of social workers and support orkers saying: “Your work underpins all we do as public servants and it is really important that I, as your colleague, pay respect to that.”

 Social Worker Shines at National Awards Nov 2016

A social worker from Solihull Council has been recognised for her outstanding work with vulnerable adults at the national Social Worker of the Year Awards 2016.

ann-maria-mitchell-national-social-work-award  Ann-Maria Mitchell received the Silver Award in the Newly Qualified Adult Social Worker of the Year category and picked up her award at an awards ceremony in London on Friday 25 November.

Ann-Maria, who recently completed her first year as a qualified social worker, was nominated for her continued learning and outstanding commitment to adult safeguarding.

During her short time as a social worker, Ann-Maria has already delivered presentations on safeguarding and the Care Act to social work students at Coventry University, demonstrating her passion for social work and enthusiasm to share her knowledge with others.

Her professionalism, motivation and support for colleagues were commended in her nomination, and her infectious personality was cited as being an inspiration to those who work with her, both for professionals and those needing care and support services.

Councillor Karen Grinsell, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health, said: “This is an outstanding achievement and I am delighted that Ann-Maria’s hard work and commitment has been recognised at a national level.

“Working in the social care sector and providing support to our most vulnerable residents can be very challenging, so it’s great to see all the good work being celebrated.

“Although Ann-Maria is just at the start of her career, it is clear that she has the skills and dedication to excel within her chosen field of adult social care and it is a real honour to have her working for Solihull Council.”

The ceremony, organised by Social Work Awards Ltd, is the leading celebration of its kind in the social care sector, and recognises the achievements and successes of social workers working within the profession to support children and adults.

The awards were judged by a panel of experts including Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo.

Find out more about the awards at

Ofsted Inspection Outcome Jul 2016

Ofsted inspected children’s services in Solihull in April 2016 and reported the outcome in July 2016.  The Executive Summary highlights the following:

“The local authority is ambitious. Knowledgeable and experienced senior managers and leaders are working well together to manage change in a systematic way. Beginning with the restructuring of children’s social care services, they have established a multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and are now rolling out the new early help offer. Firm foundations have been laid. Good progress is being made. Improvement is continuing.

The development of a robust performance culture is still a work in progress. The level of frontline management oversight is not consistently rigorous or robust. The challenge is to develop a greater sense of urgency and a more ruthless focus on core practice, in order to improve outcomes for children and young people.

Children, young people and families are able to access a good range of services to counter substance misuse and domestic violence, and promote emotional well-being and mental health. These have been reconfigured and recommissioned to extend their reach and effectiveness. Early help is being strengthened to ensure that those families that require a more structured response, based on a holistic assessment of their needs, are able to the get the early help and support that they need from groups of professionals working together as a team around the family.

The new MASH arrangements are working well. A good understanding of the thresholds for access to children’s social care services ensures that most referrals are appropriate. In almost every case, referrals lead to a suitable and timely service response. The local authority is taking action to ensure that the issue of parental consent is fully explored and well recorded.

Strategic and operational responses to child sexual exploitation and children who go missing from home, school or care are well developed and well managed. However, there is still room for improvement, for example in ensuring that the quality of return home interviews is of a consistently high standard. The local authority has responded well to the threat of radicalisation.”

A post-Ofsted improvement plan is being implemented to address the issues raised during the inspection.

Solihull Social Worker Wins Silver at National Awards Ceremony 2014

Social work awards winner
Helen Guizani receiving her Silver Award

Helen Guizani was named runner up in the Practice Teacher of the Year category at the 2014 National Social Worker of the Year awards.

Helen has been an assistant team manager in Solihull for over five years and currently works in the Aspire Through Care Team, supporting looked after children and young people within the authority. In addition to her everyday caseload and responsibilities, Helen also manages and mentors a number of both newly qualified practitioners and social work students.

The judges described Helen as an “extraordinary” and “inspirational” leader and practice educator. They were particularly impressed with her drive and commitment to offering social work students a ‘real’ and valuable experience on their placements.

Speaking just after she collected her silver award, Helen said: “It’s been fantastic to receive this type of recognition and win this award, I’m overjoyed. I’d like to thank Solihull for their support and commitment to my development as a practice educator.”