A newly-qualified social worker has won a national award for her work with adults and young people with learning disabilities.

Rachel Gavin, who works in the Community Learning Disability Team at Bridgend County Borough Council, carried off a bronze award in the Exceptional Newcomer category sponsored by Coleg Cambria at the Wales Care Awards.

The 34 year-old, from Bridgend, joined the council just over a year ago after studying for a degree in social work at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Before that she was a support worker for people with learning disabilities providing care through the not-for-profit organisation Mirus in Bridgend.

Now at the council she supports a wide-range 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.

Her award was presented by David Francis, deputy Chief Inspector at the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales, during a glittering ceremony at Cardiff City Hall.

The MC for the evening was opera singer Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV adverts. Ontex Healthcare and Barchester Jobs were main sponsors.

Of the award Rachel added: “I am 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.”

The awards pay tribute to exceptional people working in the care industry and Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

“We take our hats off to them.”