A Surrey Choices employee has received the highest honour from the supported employment sector after being awarded the national 2017 Practitioner of the Year Award.

Carolyn Tucker supports people with a wide range of disabilities by helping them to find employment opportunities with local employers.

The support specialist works for the EmployAbility Service at Surrey Choices with adults who may have traditionally found it difficult to secure employment. EmployAbility is a dedicated service that helps to find work placements, training, volunteer opportunities and paid work with employers.

Carolyn, who has continued to work beyond the age of retirement, shows no interesting in ‘slowing down’ and is renowned for her enthusiasm and energy, continually supporting people with disabilities and their families. Over the last five years she has supported over 60 people into paid jobs.

Christina Earl, who is an Interim Operations Director for Surrey Choices and who nominated Carolyn for the award, said: “Carolyn consistently goes above and beyond for our customers and their families. She is completely committed to her role and whilst she often entertains us with her sense of humour, she is in fact the ultimate professional – managing to negotiate the very best outcomes for our customers with employers from across our region.”

The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) presented Carolyn with the award after she demonstrated an ‘outstanding contribution to supported employment through commitment, resourcefulness and achievement.’ The awards recognise and celebrate outstanding practice in the field of supported employment in the UK.  Their focus is on promoting the remarkable work that goes on across the country to help people with disabilities, and other disadvantages, get the support they want to achieve their work aspirations and retain paid employment.

The awards evening was held at BASE’s national conference awards dinner in Brighton.

Carolyn said: “I was completely overwhelmed to hear that I had been chosen to receive this award.

“I feel very fortunate to do a job that I am so very passionate about and I couldn’t do it without the wonderful people I support, their families and my colleagues. I must also thank the vast number of employers who work with me to help us secure meaningful work or training opportunities for our customers.”

One parent, whose son has been supported by Carolyn, said that the guidance and encouragement her whole family has received from Carolyn has made a huge difference to their lives.  She said: “Carolyn was always behind my son, visiting him in his role and teaching him everything he needed to know. She is fantastic and without her our son wouldn’t be as lovely a person as he is now.”

Surrey Choices provides a wide range of employment and community support, enabling adults with support needs or disabilities to gain independence and learn skills that will help them find paid or voluntary work.

To find out more about the projects available at Surrey Choices, email info@surreychoices.com or call 01483 806806.