Change – there’s no stopping it!

The 2015 general election is almost upon us, – a campaign which began immediately following New Year. Is it really five years since we witnessed Godon Brown and his family leave Downing Street for the last time ?

It was the retirement last week of Mike Foulis, Director, Children and Families in Scottish Government  that reminded me how much can change and how quickly. In his final reflections he recalled it was Jim Callaghan who led the country in 1978 when he began his career. A career which amounted to approximately 8080 days over nearly 37 years! Mike’s career spanned both Whitehall and Scottish Government and included private office, housing and in his last four years leading children and families. Mike’s sharp analytical brain, brilliant recall of facts on figures on just about anything will be missed along with his clarity of thought complemented by sharp and at times quirky sense of humour. In respect of the past two years, Mike has been encouraging of the work done to strengthen social services in Scotland and supported the work done through the national strategic forum. Good luck Mike!Mike

In the short term Deborah Smith currently Deputy Director for Children’s Rights and Wellbeing within the Children and Families Directorate will fill the gap left by Mike’s departure. On a final postscript to Mike’s departure, on his last day, he couldn’t get his pass to work – a pass which had faithfully led him through Scottish Government security for so many years. His pass had been cancelled and he was left to sign in like so many visitors have to do over the decades. How quickly we come history!

Criminal justice social work has to date has not featured significantly in my blog. That will change as the redesign of community justice develops and the pace quickens towards 2017. With a new Bill shortly to be presented to Parliament, Justice colleagues and the wider group of stakeholders are now fully engaged in the development of a new national strategy for community justice and redesign with a stronger focus on community planning and localities. Criminal justice social work will continue to play a vital part of any new developments along side universal services. These developments will have a strong connection with the new Strategy for Social Services in Scotland and will include all criminal justice social work staff as work begins to develop the implementation plan. More on criminal justice social work in the weeks and months to come!

Meetings have been taking place in respect of the four strands of the Strategy;

  • Supporting the workforce ( Anna Fowlie, Scottish Social Services Council )
  • Understanding service quality and performance ( Robert Peat, Care Inspectorate )
  • Improving the use of research ( Andy Kendrick University of Strathclyde )
  • Promoting public understanding ( Jane Devine, Social Work Scotland)

The meetings have served to firm up on the actions and priorities as specific pieces of work begin to take shape.

Over the coming months the front line engagement events will in part focus on the four strands of the Strategy in order that staff can influence and contribute to the future. The first event takes place in Edinburgh on 14 May with all places taken up within days of the event being advertised. Acting Minister for Children and Families Fiona McLeod will be attending next week. Dates for further events in Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee and Inverness will be announced shortly.

In my last blog I highlighted the IRISS / Guardian Social Care “View from Here” survey .  This is an opportunity for you to highlight the significant issues about working in social services in Scotland. The survey is now open and can be found at

Finally I had the pleasure of supporting The Very Reverend , John Chalmers,Moderator to the Church of Scotland’s Golf Challenge at a sunny Craigielaw Golf Club recently. The event raised money for Crossreach children and families projects across Scotland.  In my team I included family and friends, one of whom is a Minister in Dundee. I thought by strengthening the spiritual links of the squad, we would be in with a better chance of winning. It wasn’t to be but congratulations to everyone involved in the event which raised several thousand pounds. There is always next year and a new Moderator!golf