Wings School Cumbria staff and students are celebrating as support worker Joe Mason is recognised by a shortlisting for Support Worker of the Year in the National Children's and Young People's Awards.
The awards - open to all of the tens of thousands of support workers in the UK - recognise those individuals who go above and beyond for the children they work with.
Working with children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties in a specialist residential school can be challenging for members of the staff team, particularly when the young people are experiencing a crisis. A calming nature, a sense of reliability and a ready smile all have an important part to play in positively supporting a child, and helping them through their time of greatest need.
At Wings School Cumbria, Support Worker Joe Mason – aka The Gentle Giant – has those qualities in abundance. Joe is not only extremely knowledgeable and experienced in supporting children experiencing significant levels of challenge, he also takes a selfless approach to delivering that support, often going above and beyond to make sure the child feels valued.
If there’s a birthday or special occasion, Joe is often found at work on his day off to ensure the child has the day they deserve. This is so important for the children who have often previously been badly let down by the adults in their lives and whose sense of worth has been damaged as a result. Joe always seeks to rectify that, putting them first in all that he does – seeing them happy, progressing and settled is what motivates him. He has been part of a team that has supported many children to return to family living or foster families, a key aim of their work.
Joe is described by colleagues as “always smiling, always happy” and it is his calmness that has seen him so successfully support children experiencing really significant periods of challenge.
Gillian Miele, Kedleston Group Head of Social Care, said: “Joe just has an innate ability to support children in crisis really calmly and positively. I would have him on any team, anywhere. He’s an asset to every team.”