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Inspirational Kingston University postgraduate student and educator picks up top honour at Social Worker of the Year Awards

Posted Friday 1 December 2017

Inspirational Kingston University postgraduate student and educator picks up top honour at Social Worker of the Year Awards Practice Educator of the Year Lynn Lock at the Social Worker of the Year Awards with Mick McCormick, Head of Social Work at The Open University. Picture: Felicity Crawshaw and Matt Grayson.

A Kingston University Masters student who juggles studying and teaching with a full-time job as a manager for a social enterprise company has been honoured at the Social Worker of the Year Awards. Lynn Lock was named Practice Educator of the Year for her role in successfully motivating students to develop their careers in social work.

Having first joined Kingston University in 2001 when she completed a degree in criminal justice studies with a diploma in social work, Lynn is currently studying part-time for her Masters in Professional Education and Training at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, run jointly by Kingston University and St George's, University of London.

The programme provides students like Lynn, who have a wealth of professional experience, with the opportunity to mentor and support current undergraduate social work students. As well as teaching degree students and undertaking her own postgraduate studies, Lynn volunteers with the Samaritans and holds down a full-time job as the Health and Wellbeing Hub Manager for the Youth Resilience Service at Achieving for Children – the organisation providing children's services for the Boroughs of Kingston, Richmond, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Lynn said she was stunned to learn she had won the award. "A key part of my role as a practice educator involves helping students overcome any fears they may have in what can be a challenging, but also extremely rewarding, sector," she explained. "To know that I am able to inspire people to pursue their careers in social work is very special because motivating, training and mentoring the next generation of social workers is a big responsibility."

The Social Worker of the Year Awards were established in 2006 to recognise the hard work and positive impact that social workers have on the lives of vulnerable children, families and adults. Acknowledged as being the leading awards in the sector, they recognise the success of the profession's most innovative and dedicated social workers. This year's ceremony was hosted by celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale, who spent part of her early life living between foster carers and adopters.

Final-year Kingston University and St George's, University of London social work degree student Natalie Gibbs credits Lynn with giving her a boost up the social work career ladder. "From day one, Lynn has been hugely supportive and always makes time to see us individually face-to-face," she said. "She has encouraged me and other students to not be afraid of taking on the more difficult cases and to be bold in delivering effective interventions."  

The invaluable help that practice educators such as Lynn provide to their students is something that has major benefits for all involved in the sector, according to Natalie. "It is incredibly important to have strong leaders and mentors in social work. We are dealing with real people with complex situations and vulnerabilities, so having somebody like Lynn with her knowledge and experience by our side helps us feel supported," she said.

Lynn said a continual drive to help others remained at the heart of her professional and personal values. "I always remind my students that as social workers we have the ability to change lives for the better," she said. "Knowing that we have the potential to help build a more positive and safer society provides me with daily inspiration in the work I do which is something I endeavour to pass on to my students."

Professor Jane Lindsay, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education said the award was well-deserved as Lynn always went the extra mile to help people. "Lynn is outstanding, not only for her practice educator work, but also for the amazing voluntary work she carries out with young people through The Samaritans at music festivals," she said. "I am delighted that she has achieved this recognition of her service to students and the local community."

Celebrity chef and awards patron Lorraine Pascale presented Lynn with her Practice Educator of the Year award. Picture:Felicity Crawshaw and Matt Grayson.Celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale (far left) presented Lynn (left) with her award alongside Mick McCormick, Head of Social Work at the Open University (right) and James Rook, Chief Executive of awards sponsor Sanctuary Social Care (far right) Picture: Felicity Crawshaw and Matt Grayson.
    Find out more about studying social work at Kingston University.

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