Elizabeth O’Dell was a long standing member of BASW, and a former Vice Chair of the Social Workers’ Educational Trust.
Elizabeth died in 2014. She was an inspiration to many – and we are delighted to have the agreement of her family for a new award in her memory – The Elizabeth O’Dell Memorial Award. This award is to enable practitioners, working within an established project, engaged in innovative practice that is designed and informed by principles intended to uphold the dignity and respect of older people, to share their knowledge and experiences with others. The award should be used by the successful applicant(s) to contribute to the training and development of practitioners, or the dissemination of best practice through the publication of a practice paper or article, running of a workshop, or a particular training event.
Elizabeth was born in Minnesota, USA, where her father was a Presbyterian minister and her mother a teacher. Her parents were alongside people in those tough times in the 1930s and in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality in the US. They were also pacifists, taking part in anti-war marches. Elizabeth studied social work at the University of Minnesota and later worked at a student YWCA in Nebraska, a neighbourhood house in San Francisco’s Chinatown, with a paediatrics social work team in Boston, and community work in the small town of Pella, Iowa. She came to London in 1975 and was part of a specialist team working with elderly people in Westminster from 1980-97. After retirement she continued serving as an active member of BASW and the Social Workers’ Educational Trust.