There is nothing better to keep your feet on the ground than listening to those who have experienced the impact of the care or criminal justice system first hand and are now using it to influence change nationally. I was privileged to have the opportunity to welcome Who Cares Scotland to Scottish Government to a learning and development event. Ashley, Thomas and Kevin blew the audience away with their openness, honesty and inspiring words. Many shed a few tears ( and I include myself ), as they shared their journeys in a new film `Life After Care` Each are using their experiences in different ways so positively to benefit others as they take their film round Scotland to promote corporate parenting. If you get a chance please take the opportunity to view the film and listen to three very talented individuals – Ashley and Thomas`s stories supported by anchor man Kevin. You will not be disappointed!
On a similar vein, I attended a reception in the Scottish Parliament to recognise the benefits of the Reducing Re-offending Public Social Partnerships (PSP). Through the third sector collaborative practice is being enhanced and making a positive impact on the lives of many young people who have been challenging by substance abuse and offending behaviour. Two young people talking for the first time in public (no mean feat!) made a big impact on the night and illustrated just how much can be achieved with the right support. PSP is bringing about greater opportunities for effective collaboration and with it positive changes in the lives of many young and not so young people
I attended and contributed to the annual study day for Mental Health Officers run by the Mental Welfare Commission. An important gathering for a small but critical group of highly trained social workers whose contribution to mental health in Scotland was recognised by the President of the Mental Health Tribunal in Scotland, Dr Joe Morrow. It was the last such event for George Kappler, Social Work Director of MWC who is due to retire later this month. George has been a tremendous ambassador for the role of the MHO in Scotland, raising concerns about capacity in the system and the impact of legislation. As a result I commissioned SSSC to examine in more detail the issues raised and Neil McLeod presented his findings. The report is currently being finalised but Neil was able to say that although there is not currently a crisis in Scotland there is a need for further workforce planning to ensure sufficient future capacity.
A morning with Bluebird Care in Edinburgh and an opportunity to meet new recruits to the organisation during their 5 day induction programme was my next stop. This was an enlightening experience as it not only updated me on Moving and Handling policy but more importantly gave me the opportunity to talk to the new staff about their values, motivation and customer focus. All three being fundamental to the organisation`s success. The morning helped confirm for me some of the key actions which will be included in the Social Services Strategy 2015 – 2020 to be launched at the Hub in Edinburgh on 17 March, World Social Work Day. I will be preparing a special Talking Social Services Blog to coincide with the launch.
Last week saw the Scotland children`s services leaders gather in Edinburgh. At an event addressed by the Cabinet Secretary, Angela Constance, who set some challenges for the audience including:
- How do you know your services are performing well?
- How are you effectively supporting your front line staff?
The summit was one of many recommendations in a report prepared for Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland. In this time of significant change both in terms of structure and personnel, it is critical that staff at all levels of organisations remain focussed on protection some of Scotland`s most vulnerable children! No doubt new ideas will emerge from the summit as we continue to make Scotland the best place to grow.
Thank you to those who have followed me on twitter during my first year as a `tweeter` What a great way to listen, learn and exchange ideas. I am truly `hooked` and look forward to conversing with you further over the coming year.
Finally and reflecting on the last couple of weeks, social services in Scotland continues to demonstrate effectiveness in so many different ways. There are times when all of us have questioned the value and impact of our work. Social services continues to change lives each and every day across Scotland. Important, therefore, when things don`t seem to be going so well you hang on to the examples of positive change you have supported someone make. That`s keeping the faith!