Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Fergal receives royal recognition for services to social work

Fergal O’Brien from Mullaghbawn, a social worker and Locality Promoting Wellbeing Manager  with the Southern Health Trust Manager, has been awarded an MBE in recognition of his outstanding services to the community through Social Work.

A qualified social worker, Fergal began his career in the community sector and has overseen a range of community development and health improvement services for the Southern Trust in the Newry and Mourne area.  He has also worked as a Training and Development Consultant for the Trust’s Social Services Workforce Development and Training Team, taking a lead role in Community Development and Person Centred planning.

While undertaking an MSc in Professional Development in Social Work at the Ulster University, Fergal led a research project on improving life expectancy amongst Traveller men, which was recognised with a number of awards. He has also received a Social Work Leadership and Strategic Award and was shortlisted as finalist in the Northern Ireland Social Work Awards. 

Most recently, he has led the development of a new Community Development Professional in Practice Training Programme in partnership with a range of agencies and Ulster University. The one year course gives academic recognition to and will help to mainstream community development approaches in Health and Social Care.

Having been announced as a recipient in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Fergal says he accepted the award for professional reasons “as I have been trying to advocate a community development approach in the social work profession for many years.

“I have been working for two years on a regional post graduate community development training course with Ulster University which has just been recognised academically and professionally.

Fergal O’Brien from Mullaghbawn who received an MBE for his services to Social Work

“For me the award will feel empty until I finally see this course up and running with social workers and staff from other professions and sectors availing of the qualification,” he added.

Congratulating Fergal on his MBE, Roberta Brownlee, Chair of the Southern Trust said: “We are absolutely delighted that Fergal has received this recognition for his years of dedication to improving the wellbeing of our local communities. Fergal has been a real advocate for taking a community development approach to addressing health inequalities and has worked with a great team of Promoting Wellbeing and Social Services colleagues in helping to improve the health and social outcomes for local people.”