A mother of one is up for a top award after becoming a rock to adults and young people with learning disabilities.
Newly qualified social worker, Rachel Gavin, has quickly gained the admiration of her colleagues within the Community Learning Disability Team at Bridgend County Borough Council.
After just a year at the council, she is shortlisted for a Wales Care Award in the Exceptional Newcomer category.
On November 17 she will step into the limelight at the awards ceremony, known as the social care Oscars which will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, who’s perhaps better known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV ads.
In her role at the council Rachel, 34, from Bridgend, supports service-users with all manner of day-to-day life challenges and has established a group to support vulnerable women.
Overcoming finance, education and accommodation issues are all part of the care and support packages she develops to help them lead better and more fulfilled lives.
She said: “I have a good understanding of issues that may arise and through personal experience and working with adults for many years. We are able to ensure a person centred approach to our work as a team
“Our service-users are aged 18 upwards and what really matters to me is helping them gain independence to lead as near normal life as possible.”
In nominating her for a prestigious Wales Care Award, the industry’s highest gong, colleagues praised her “amazing ability to form strong relationships with the people and families she works with” and her advocating skills on their behalf.
They describe her as an “exceptional social worker” and say it is hard to believe she is newly-qualified.
Of the nomination Rachel added: “I am both surprised and delighted to be able to raise the profile of the tremendous work that goes on in this department. It can be challenging but overall we here to support people in difficult circumstances which is what makes social work so rewarding.”
Rachel has many years of social care under her belt. At 21 she joined the not-for-profit organisation Mirus in Bridgend and was a support worker for people with learning disabilities for 10 years.
She left to study for a degree in social work at Cardiff Metropolitan University before joining the council.
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.
“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement