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September 2018

“It’s one of the most important and rewarding professions you can do” – Chair of Social Work England congratulates Think Ahead’s first cohort on their achievements

Think Ahead officially launched its alumni network at an event on Monday night, ahead of the first cohort of participants completing the programme at the end of the month. After two years of rigorous academic training and on-the-job learning, Think Ahead’s first cohort had the opportunity to celebrate their achievements so far and look to their future beyond the programme.

The chair of Social Work England, the new regulatory body for the social work profession, Lord Patel of Bradford, was one in a series of public figures to congratulate the participants on their contributions so far.

He said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to come and celebrate your success […] I can’t think of another time in the last few decades when good social workers, with the right skills, have been more needed.”

Lord Patel, who had a substantial career in social work before joining the House of Lords in 2006, explained his own reasons for entering the profession and his efforts to improve services.

He highlighted the important role of social workers in standing up for social justice, while acknowledging that the profession had often been undervalued by the media and the general public. He said: “Sometimes there are misunderstandings about what the profession is here for. But it’s one of the most important and rewarding professions you can do.”

Participants also received congratulatory messages from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, and the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo.

“We know you’re going to have a fantastic impact”

Think Ahead’s Co-Chief Executive Natalie Acton expressed pride in the difference participants had already made in enabling people with mental health problems to lead more fulfilling lives, and promised continued support in the future: “We know you’re going to have a fantastic impact […] We want to support you beyond the Think Ahead programme.”

Participants were invited to join Think Ahead’s alumni network, which offers professional, development and social opportunities to everyone who completes the two-year programme.

Martin Webber, Professor of Social Work at the University of York, who leads the academic teaching in collaboration with staff from the University of Central Lancashire, said being in a room filled with the next generation of social workers was “just fantastic”. Participant Levi summed up her experience on the programme: “The last two years have been a humbling time. The opportunity to contribute, to make changes and to build relationships has been great.”