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Glasgow student wins social work award

Karen Henry, Eileen Gibson and Tony Mackie

High-flying graduates from an innovative Open University in-house degree programme at Glasgow City Council have received awards in memory of a late colleague.

The Senga Nicol Award was presented at the City Chambers to the top performers on The OU in Scotland – Glasgow City Council social work programme. This enables social workers to gain an honours degree while continuing their day jobs.

Senga, a senior learning and development officer at Glasgow City Council, passed away in 2013. Her partner Will Brown (who died last year) and sister Eileen Gibson set up the award to mark her contribution to Glasgow City Council students, and it has run for three consecutive years (2015-17).

The 2017 award recipients were Karen Henry (1st), Campbell MacGregor (2nd) and Anne Slaven (3rd).

Karen (left) is pictured with Eileen (centre) and Tony Mackie (right), Glasgow City Council’s principal officer for learning and development in social work services.

Roger Davis, Associate Head (Nations and Regions) of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care School in The OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, said:

Senga was well known to us, as a former OU social sciences tutor, and a key figure in social work academic circles who was passionate about practice-based learning.

She supported and inspired many OU social work students over the years, and when her loved ones proposed these awards in her memory, they seemed a fitting way to celebrate Senga’s life and legacy.

“Congratulations to the recent award winners, who showed exceptional dedication and skill throughout their OU degree studies, and who are real assets both to Glasgow City Council and their profession.”

Since the programme started in 2013, over 40 social workers have graduated with The OU in Scotland through this in-house route.

Tony Mackie said:

Glasgow City Council has enjoyed a very successful collaboration with The Open University where we have provided staff with opportunities to qualify as social workers.

“Our colleague, Senga Nicol, was passionate about social work and social work education throughout her career. Senga’s inspiration and positive influence on students and colleagues remains as her legacy.

“Having known Senga for over 30 years and worked with her through the later part of her life, the Senga Nicol Award has been a fantastic way to remember and acknowledge her contribution to social work. Each year the award has gone to a student who demonstrated outstanding social work practice during their placements.

“The 2017 winner, Karen Henry, completed her final placement in a children’s hospice setting where she significantly expanded her learning and skills within a very emotionally challenging setting. On the 23rd of March 2017, Senga’s fourth anniversary, Karen joined Elaine Gillespie and Peter Dickie as a well-deserved winner of the Senga Nicol Award.”

Karen Henry, the third winner of the award, said:

“To win the Senga Nicol Award was entirely unexpected but warmly received in honour of such an inspirational woman. Senga possessed an inherent ability to enthuse and instil her passion for social work in others, which will remain with me through my practice.

I genuinely feel privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to study towards my BA (Hons) Social Work with The Open University whilst working within Social Work Services with Glasgow City Council.

This was a challenge, requiring significant commitment, but a unique opportunity which enabled me to continue to analyse and reflect on my learning and practice, through my work and not just during placements.”

The group picture above right includes Roger Davis (second left, back row), Anne Slaven (far left, front row) and OU programme tutor Stewart Collins (second right).


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