A senior council officer who contributed to the borough’s children’s services receiving a ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Rashida Baig, the council’s Head of Social Work with Families, was nominated in recognition of her services to children’s and family social work and racial equality after joining the council in April 2019.
In March this year Ofsted inspectors found the council’s services for children and families had ‘dramatically improved’ and ‘transformed’, leading to a ‘Good’ overall rating. The borough had launched a major improvement drive following an ‘Inadequate’ judgement in September 2017.
In addition to helping reduce caseloads and the number of children needing protection plans, a key point in Rashida’s Croydon career was last October when an Ofsted monitoring visit found her service had significantly improved outcomes for local families, followed by a Good rating for Help and Protection in February this year.
The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-three, who turned 57 today (9 October), became a social worker in 2000 after studying for her Open University degree while working part-time as an under-eights officer for the council in her home town of Slough. She later worked in the social care teams at Hillingdon, Wokingham and West Berkshire councils before joining Croydon.
Prior to her social work career her commitment to racial equality and social justice saw her become a research associate for the Centre for Minority Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London. Rashida’s work promoting racial equality has continued into her Croydon role making sure families do not suffer disadvantage as a result of institutional inequalities including their race, ethnicity, gender or immigration status with a focus on supporting families to adapt to life in the borough.
She said: “I was startled by the nomination, and wasn’t expecting it. I’ve been really humbled by the recognition for social work and the work that’s done with vulnerable children and their families. When you deliver improvements for children, it’s a team effort. Social workers are key players who build relationships to help families bring about positive change. As a leader I believe if you give people the right environment with the right values and support, they flourish and do the job they need to.”
She added: “Throughout my career I have been committed to equality of opportunity in the way we design and deliver services. Tackling racism in all its forms has been central to everything I have done as a social worker including valuing children’s heritage and identity and making sure where possible they remain in their family and communities whether in the UK or elsewhere.”
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) is given for ‘an outstanding achievement or service to the community’ that ‘will have had a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others’.
“Rashida is a role model of professionalism and dedication, and she’s been a key part of our children’s services improvement that led to our Good rating from Ofsted this year. Her MBE is fantastic recognition for the support she gives to improving the lives of families across our borough.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
Rashida is now looking forward to getting her MBE, subject to Covid-19 rules. She said: “With the necessary precautions, it would be great to go to Buckingham Palace; it’s an amazing opportunity!”