Ancaster retired social worker receives MBE

Patricia Hiley with son James and daughter Joanne.
Patricia Hiley with son James and daughter Joanne.
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A retired social worker has been made an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours in recognition of her services to adoption in Lincolnshire.

Patricia Hiley, 63, of Ancaster, has served a total of 32 years within the adoption service.

Patricia said: “After I received the letter from the Cabinet, I was in shock and thrilled but felt very humbled as it was very much a team effort with many great people involved.”

Patricia worked for Lincolnshire County Council for 32 years in a range of fostering and adoption roles, filling the role of practice supervisor on the adoption team before her retirement last year.

Under her management, Lincolnshire adoption services were ranked outstanding in three Ofsted inspections, and the service won the National Adoption Week award for Excellence in Adoption practice.

Before retiring in March 2017, Patricia was responsible for supervising social workers, who assess and support adopters and helped set up a ‘foster to adopt’ programme in Lincolnshire, which enabled 16 babies over a two-year period to be placed in the family who will be adopting them. In the last three years, she embraced new practices, sought to deliver better timescales in keeping with drive from the government, and supported her team to work creatively on improving processes for adopters.

She also set up a group for grandparents to help assist them in understanding the support needs of their children as adoptive parents and to highlight the differences of being a grandparent to an adopted child compared to that of a biological child.

The mum-of-two said: “I loved hosting those seminars and seeing how committed the grandparents were to both their children and their grandchildren. It gave grandparents the opportunity to speak to others in their situation whose children are all at different stages of the adoption process, including those still going through the approval process, waiting for a match and those whose children are already living with their child.”

Despite a long and fufilling career in the adoption services, Patricia began her working life as a secondary school teacher in Derbyshire.

She said: “I always knew that I didn’t want to teach all my life and I was always interested in social work, so I went to work in a secure unit for teenagers who have committed an offence or were at risk within or to the community.”

Patricia, who has a daughter aged 24 and a son aged 22, then moved to work in the adoption services based in Lincoln.

She added: “I have not got one single proudest achievement but knowing that children who have been harmed in some way are now living with people who care, keep them safe and love them will always be a highlight. I also loved seeing the change in children who have previously suffered and seeing how well they are doing.”

Despite retiring last year, Patricia has not slowed down.

She added: “I have now got the time to get involved in other areas within the community.

“Working in social care was great but very time consuming. I would often be called out at all hours, so it didn’t leave much time for anything else. Now, I am involved in the garden project at Harrowby Lane Methodist Church, which aims to engage with the local community more and to encourage more social interaction.”

After 32 years, Patricia says that she has nothing but fond memories of working within the adoption services.

She added: “Although I do miss it, I am very confident in the team that are still there. The whole culture of the team is so committed. They do a brilliant job and are dedicated to the service. We always said that working in the adoption services is the best job in social work.”