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Think Ahead alum wins social work prize

Posted on 16 December 2019

Former Think Ahead programme student Thea Radburn has recently been awarded the Mental Health Social Worker of the Year at the 2019 Social Worker of the Year Awards.

Thea was a member of Think Ahead’s first cohort, and graduated from the scheme in 2018. She was nominated for the award by Joy Rickard, senior social worker at the Heartfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, where Thea has been working since 2017, initially alongside the second year of her Think Ahead Masters.

Think Ahead is a demanding two-year training scheme and Masters course in mental health social work, where students combine academic learning whilst working in practice as mental health social workers. It is run by the charity Think Ahead, and is in-part taught by the University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, alongside the University of Central Lancaster and Middlesex University.

The judges noted that Thea’s “enthusiasm and person-centred approach really came across in her nomination.” Someone that Thea supported as a social worker said that they had been “totally impressed with her kind, gentle and reassuring manner... The Trust should feel proud to have [her] as part of the team.”

Thea's tutor Tracy Almond, of the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, said: “The award of Mental Health Social Worker of the Year is a fantastic achievement for Thea and testimony to her dedication and commitment. Thea has been a diligent student throughout the programme, keen to learn and to bring high standards to the social work profession.

“I had the pleasure of being Thea's academic tutor in the second year of the programme; during this time I observed her enthusiasm, creativity and compassionate approach to working with those experiencing mental health problems. She is a real asset to her organisation: we wish her all the best for the future!”

On her win, Thea said: “It was such a privilege to win this award, and to attend the ceremony to celebrate all the great social work practice up and down the country. I’m so glad that the role of social work in mental health settings is growing in its profile, and the understanding that social circumstances can have hugely positive and negative effects on people’s mental health.”

This is the 14th annual Social Worker of the Year awards, which began in 2006 to celebrate inspirational social workers. The judging panel was made up of leading social work professionals, past winners, former care leavers, and representatives from the awards’ sponsors.

Find out more about the awards.