Social work champion honoured

By on 02/02/2010 in News


Sharon Bailey, Head of Service for Learning Disability Services, discusses being awarded an MBE for Services to Local Government.

Leeds born Sharon originally wanted to become a nurse, but after getting married and moving to Birmingham, joined the Council as a care assistant in 1982, and held a number of different roles before becoming head of service in 2005. Her current role involves managing a city wide team of social workers who work with adults with learning disabilities.

Sharon was motivated by a desire to help people and to give something back to the community and believes that the wider community often has no comprehension of the pressures faced by social workers.

Sharon says:

“There are so many people out there who give 150%. You get the negative media about social workers when things go wrong and you have to deal with a lot of complaints, but a lot of people work very, very hard and have a real commitment to services. I've been recognised, but I see this as an award for the service, the directorate and the authority, it is not just for me on my own.

I started my career at a grassroots level, so no one can ever say to me that I don't know what it's like. Quite often people don't understand the enormous pressures social workers are under. They don't appreciate the statutory responsibilities that social workers have, they think we do things off our own back a lot, but we don't. We have to work within a statutory framework, and sometimes that's important to understand.”

Sharon is pleased to be a role model for other black women, and has twice been honoured with the Innovation and Creativity award from the council's Black Managers Forum.

Sharon adds:

“I do see myself as a role model for other black women, other women and people generally. The key to success is persistence. Just because you start at a certain level doesn't mean you can't aspire and climb, but you have to do things for yourself as well. I had no concept when I began that I would end up running a service, but that said, I am a great believer in if you really want something, you can get it.

I didn't set out for that, every job I've ever been in, I've thought I'm happy where I am. I didn't really have a set career path to travel. Everything I went into, I went into with my whole heart and progressed from there.”

On being awarded her MBE, Sharon says:

“After the shock wore off, I felt really humbled, it's a great honour to be recognised for all the hard work. My daughter said to me, 'does this mean you can go see the Queen at any time?”


For more information please contact Hayley Meachin on 0121 303 1271/ 07920 750007


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