Hints & Tips

Read all the categories carefully and make sure you enter the most appropriate one: you must be able to answer the questions and provide evidence or examples of how you are meeting the criteria, which is different for each category.

Get permission from your team, organisation, or a person you want to nominate: an email would be ideal. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get approval.

Don’t leave it to the last minute: you can start preparing now by planning what you want to say and gather details of examples or evidence you want to include in your written submission.

Tell a story: help your entry stand out to the judges by having a clear beginning, middle and end so it reads like an interesting story. Check out our plain English guide and avoid jargon so a lay person can understand it.

Provide evidence: use information from research, practice, wisdom, service data or lived experience to demonstrate how the person, team or organisation has specifically met the award criteria. Try to avoid generalisation or assumptions. Select quotes and data from reports, surveys, feedback, or testimonials from people who use services or other individuals involved – judges will be looking for clear evidence of the difference this project or person has made to the people it supports.

Edit your entry more than once: leave time between re-writing drafts. Don’t waste words and don’t use jargon or technical terms. Ask a colleague to proof the final version for errors and make sure it reads well.

Stick to the rules: don’t use more than the allocated word count per question. Don’t attach images of supporting information (apart from optional testimonials). Don’t create or submit a film at this stage – only shortlisted entries will be asked to do this.

Allow plenty of time to complete the online entry form: we recommend that you register in advance and get familiar with the system.  Once you have started your entry you will be able to save a draft and return to it at another time.  However, once it has been submitted as the final version you will no longer be able to edit it.

Be on time: all entries must be in before 6pm on Friday 1 September.

Top Mistakes To Avoid

Entering the wrong category: take time to read all the categories and criteria listed in each of the bullet points before deciding what you could enter. Only enter a category if you can evidence meeting the criteria.

Making mistakes: once you have prepared your application, check all your details before you submit the form online and double check and save a copy of your entry after receiving the confirmation email. Always edit and proof your entry and use plain English to avoid social services jargon.

Not providing evidence: if you make a claim, be sure to back it up with evidence. This could be statistics such as number of people who use services who benefitted or comments from feedback reports, testimonials from colleagues etc. Judges will look for clear evidence of the change or impact the project or person has had on the people supported.

Not answering the questions: each category lists a series of bullet points of ‘what we are looking for’. Your answers to questions 2 and 3 in particular should say where possible how you have met each of these criteria. You might want to list your answers in similar bullet point format. You will be marked on how well you meet the criteria in each bullet point. Please note, if you fail to provide information for one of these you will receive a score of zero.

Submitting old work: we understand that social services projects develop over time, but we want to recognise current work and practice so are looking for entries to use evidence of positive results obtained within the last two years.

Plain English

You can create more impact if you:

write in plain English – use everyday language and short sentences (between 15-23 words)

tell a compelling story – especially important when you’re writing an award entry; judges will read dozens of entries and you want yours to stand out – and win!

cut out the jargon and abbreviations you normally use in official reports that can make your writing sound a bit bureaucratic.

Have a look at our examples below for some Plain English hints and tips. If you read your writing back it should sound like how you would normally speak.

Be clear and avoid using too many words
Say what you mean and don’t pad out your writing by using unnecessary words and phrases:

Instead of writingYou would say
in the near futuresoon
at this point in timenow
a wide rangemany
due to the fact thatbecause
in order toso
this affords us the opportunity tothis allows us to/we can
in the event thatif
with regard toabout
future plansplans
consensus of opinionconsensus
end resultresult
summarise brieflysummarise
cooperate togethercooperate
key initiativesinitiatives
positive regardpositive
integral part ofimportant

Avoid double negatives (phrases like ‘not only’ and ‘but also’)
For example, instead of writing: This has informed not only the daily work of the team when delivering interventions, but also enabled us to develop…
Say: This has informed the daily work of the team and enabled us to…

Make your writing active
Most people write using a lot of passive verbs which can sound bureaucratic, impersonal and cold.  Make your writing more active by putting in words like I/we/you, to make it clear who is ‘doing the doing’.  For example:

Passive: Our tenants are supported to make informed choices
Active: We help our tenants to make informed choices

Passive: Care and support is provided
Active: We provide care and support

Passive: Consideration was given to
Active: We considered

Passive: There was huge commitment demonstrated by staff
Active: Staff demonstrated huge commitment

Avoid hidden verbs
Spot them by …ion endings and passive verbs.

For example: An analysis of the system was performed in order to facilitate a comparison with the implementation of
Could become: We analysed the system to compare how we had implemented….

Try and avoid jargon: social services can be full of lots of words and phrases other people don’t understand. Assume your reader does not work in social care, so use everyday language to explain concepts. Sometimes this may mean using more words, not less.  For example:

Instead of writingYou might say
Service usersPeople who use services
Person-centred approachPut people first
Improving outcomesMake things better
Personalised care packageCare for their needs
Re-enablementHelp them get better
Service deliveryOur service

And finally…editing
It’s easy to check the average number of words per sentence by using a spell checker.

Proof your entry a couple of times to find and cut padding words you don’t need.