New Year Honours for pioneering work with children

This story was published 4 January 2021

Our staff have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for their work on improving the life chances of children with challenging backgrounds.

Janice Nicholson

Janice Nicholson, who has played a key role in the success of No Wrong Door for North Yorkshire County Council, has been awarded an MBE for services to children.

She is the strategic lead for No Wrong Door, a ground-breaking programme which aims to support young people from difficult backgrounds, which has now been recognised as a national leader which is being duplicated by other local authorities.

Her career with us began in 1995, as a residential worker before becoming a registered manager of a home, when work began on developing innovative new services for looked after children.

That work started to pick up awards and in 2014 the authority made a successful bid for Department of Education funding to progress that work further, ‘rethinking care for adolescents’ was provided.

It resulted in two hubs being formed, in Harrogate and Scarborough, to provide a range of services for adolescents in and on the edge of care.  

“The work has been successfully evaluated and it has continued to grow,” said Janice.

We have since been granted funding to develop the No Wrong Door programme with six other authorities, including Middlesbrough and Rochdale, with the model being adopted and adapted to suit local needs.

“We are sharing the good practice from North Yorkshire County Council with other areas,” she said.

The No Wrong Door scheme provides opportunities for adolescents with complex challenges to stay in their home community and county, rather than being moved to other areas to receive specialist services.

Sam Clayton, who has spent almost a year working in North Yorkshire, has had her career working with children and young people recognised with an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

She moved to North Yorkshire County Council, which has been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in all categories of the work it does through children’s services, in February to become Head of Effective Practice and Quality Assurance.

The OBE is in recognition of her services to social work and she said the honour had come as a “complete shock” following a career when she felt “you do the best you can”.

Sam has worked with children for many years since the late 1980s, first in youth work and then in children’s homes before qualifying as a social worker and working in Lincolnshire in a range of roles and latterly as principal child and family social worker.

In her current job, Sam is involved in a range of work streams including the quality of social work practice, workforce development and the Partners in Practice transformation programme at North Yorkshire County Council.

As part of her work, Sam is involved in the recruitment of social workers, working with universities to provide placements as part of the Yorkshire Urban and Rural Teaching Partnership, promoting the profession and encouraging young people to consider social work as a career.

“Social workers support thousands of children to remain safely within their family networks and overcome challenges but the profession does not receive the same level of positive press that other public sector professions do which Sam feels needs to change, particularly in the light of their critical role supporting children and their families during the pandemic.”

She had been attracted to North Yorkshire because of the model of social work practice which fully utilises Kevin Campbell’s family finding, Signs of safety and is based on relationships.

The work is “incredibly rewarding, varied,  and never the same twice,” she said.

North Yorkshire’s track record on the high quality of the social care it provides meant it has been a Partner in Practice for a number of years where innovative and creative ways of working have been developed and recognised nationally.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “I am absolutely delighted for Janice and Sam and offer them our warmest congratulations.

“It seems to be becoming a repetitive cycle for North Yorkshire County Council as yet another year with two people from our Children and Young People’s service in the New Year Honours list, it’s fantastic news.”