Recognising Excellence in Social Care

I have recently had the honour and the privilege of taking part in the judging process for this year’s National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards.

I had such a positive experience judging for the Great British Care Awards that when the opportunity arose to be involved with this year’s National Learning Disability Awards, I jumped at the chance. Having had a small amount of frontline experience in supporting people with learning disabilities, it was another area of the sector that I am always keen to support.

As a father to three young children, the last few months have been somewhat challenging with questions aplenty about the heart-breaking events that have filled our newspapers, TV screens and social media channels. In trying to explain what’s been going on in the world, I have found myself simplifying society to there being good people and bad people and trying to consciously promote the virtues of love, kindness and patience.

Little did I know when having that conversation with my three curious children, that just days later I would find myself surrounded by many of the kindest, most loving people I could imagine, with the unenviable task of choosing between them.

This year’s judging took place at the beautiful Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston, Birmingham and it was heartening to see so many people turn out despite the temperatures topping 30 degrees.

I spent time with over 20 finalists through the day and each one had a fascinating and valuable story to tell about the unique way they try to empower those in their care and how they strive each and every day to make their lives just that bit better.

What became patently clear to me throughout the day was that there is no one cut and dry method to provide great care and support. Each of us is different and the type of care and support we will respond effectively to will be equally distinct. I knew this in theory, but it was fascinating to hear and experience it in person, both from those providing the support and those individuals we met were benefitting from that support.

It also became clear to me that the very qualities that come so naturally to the people I met such as kindness, patience and empathy, are all too easily under-valued and under-appreciated. Let’s not forget that these most dedicated people often fight to exist in roles that lack the professional and financial recognition they deserve, yet they continue to do so because their hearts and their consciences won’t let them walk away from the most vulnerable in our society.

I only wish my children could have joined me for the day, so they too could have met truly good people and learnt about the real and significant contribution that they are making to our communities’ day in day out.