A children’s social worker from Kirklees Council has been honoured with the industry’s top award – national Social Worker of the Year 2023.

Omaid Badar was chosen ahead of entries from around the country in the most prestigious national event for social work in England.

Omaid has overcome a traumatic childhood in Afghanistan, only arriving in England during his teenage years. He became a social worker to help children and families live happier lives.

The award’s judging panel said of Omaid: “He is hard working, compassionate, insightful, thoughtful. Omaid constantly goes the extra mile because he knows what it means if he gets it right for a child.”

Omaid lost his father and brother at a young age before spending his formative years in a refugee camp and arriving in England alone at the age of 14.

He spoke no English and entered care, yet Omaid’s determination earned him 11 GCSEs. He later gained a place at university and has been a qualified social worker for five years.

Omaid said being crowned Social Worker of the Year was an “overwhelming and humbling experience” and added: “I’ve been exposed to a lot of trauma. I’ve overcome it, and I want to help these children overcome their traumas and be the voice that they’ve never had.

“My personal journey, growing up in the care system with a mix of challenging and positive experiences, fuels my commitment to making a difference in the lives of others who have faced similar circumstances. Being a social worker is not just a job, it’s a calling that holds deep personal significance for me.

“Kirklees is a fantastic place to practice social work because it fosters a supportive and inclusive community. The local authority and other organisations here are committed to improving the lives of vulnerable individuals and families.

“The collaborative spirit, resources and opportunities in Kirklees make it an ideal environment for social workers to make a meaningful impact and effect positive change in people’s lives in a restorative approach.”

Clr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet member for children, said: “We’re all absolutely thrilled for Omaid. This is a fantastic achievement and so well deserved.

“Omaid’s success is testament to both his talent and his commitment. He’s not only an excellent social worker, he also encourages and supports his colleagues.

“The award coming to Kirklees is incredibly special because there’s nothing more important than protecting vulnerable children and helping them to enjoy the best start in life.

“We’re delighted for Omaid and we’re very proud of all our social care teams here in Kirklees.”

Rob Mitchell MBE, trustee of the Social Worker of the Year awards, said: “Omaid is everything that the profession is about when it is at its best. He is described by the families he supports as kind, honest, trusting and a social worker who helps families feel safe.

“He is also described by those in the social work profession as inspiring, compassionate, engaging, flexible and thoughtful. Omaid’s approach to social work reflects where we all as practitioners aspire to be.”

Omaid was not the only Kirklees Council social worker nominated for the awards as Vicky Doolan was also shortlisted for Social Worker of the Year, while Christopher Smith-Whicker was shortlisted for Practice Educator of the Year.

Main image: (L-R) Headline sponsor Sanctuary Personnel CEO James Rook, Omaid Badar, broadcaster and journalist Ashley John-Baptiste. Image by: Social Work Awards