Schools out for Summer

Family circumstances have delayed the publication of this blog, which will be the last until September, but please don’t get down hearted as you will be able to enjoy the words of my four guest bloggers over the next eight weeks. More on that shortly.

Over the last few weeks a considerable amount of time has been spent in the world of the Vision and Strategy for Social Services in Scotland.  Encouragingly, several councils are now looking at how they can connect the national plan with their local vision and strategy.  Over the past few weeks I have been in Dumfries and Galloway and with Falkirk Council talking to senior managers and next week I will be addressing a staff conference –` Re visioning Social Work in Scottish Borders`.  Each of these council areas are beginning to look ahead at the role of social services with the key question being addressed in Scottish Borders;

`How can we become part of the story of the future rather holding onto the story of the past?`

That is what the Vision and Strategy is all about  – taking account of what is ahead and putting in place a number of actions to strengthen the profession to improve outcomes for Scotland`s citizens. Contributing to that is the current round of frontline practitioner engagement events with the latest being held in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.Glasgow Hall

Whilst the surroundings suggested `quiet please`,  150 contributed to the lively discussions which followed the Cabinet Secretary`s opening remarks, during which Ms Constance referred to her experience as a social worker in the State Hospital.Cab Sec at Glasgow Practitioner Event 2

During the summer a further engagement event will take place at the Forth Valley Campus, Stirling on the morning of  Tuesday 28th July.  Further details of how to book a place on our webpages

This week also saw a further meeting of the Social Work Services Strategic Forum. Progress is now being made in relation to the actions identified with work now underway in each of the four workstrands:

  • Supporting the workforce
  • Understanding Service Quality and Improvement
  • Improving the Use of Evidence
  • Promoting Public Understanding

Each of my guest bloggers over the next eight weeks Anna Fowlie, Robert Peat, Andy Kendrick and Jane Devine will update you on the work that each of them are leading.

Last week the annual conference of Social Work Scotland took place at Crieff Hydro.` Whose life is it anyway?` took a human rights perspective and more detail is given below in an early guest blog from Jane Devine specifically on the Conference.  Congratulations to Alistair Gaw, newly elected President of Social Work Scotland.  I look forward to working with Alistair over the next Alistair Gaw

I also wish Ron Culley in COSLA the very best of luck in his new role as Chief Officer to the Integrated Joint Board in the Western Isles. Ron has played a significant role in the development of health and social care integration and his contribution welcomed in local and Scottish Government.

Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary over the past five years, leaves his post next week. Sir Peter made me very welcome in Scottish Government during the past two years and always provided good advice to me and support to the profession in Scotland. I wish Sir Peter well and I have no doubt many will benefit from his excellent leadership skills over the coming years.

So celebrations all round. In the Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser, the arrival of summer and the holiday season was marked by this wonderful cake which Patrick brought in – how could you resist that ?cake

Have a great summer. See you in September.



The term ‘conference season’ used to bring to mind big hotels in Brighton with political parties dominating the headlines for weeks at a time. And then I started working for Social Work Scotland (or ADSW as it was then) and ‘conference season’ took on a whole other meaning.  Conference season for me now means middle of June: Crieff. It means a year of planning meetings; coming up with a title; a theme; selecting speakers; booking workshops; advertising; briefing participants; working out logistics; and a lot of fairly concentrated hoping that things won’t go wrong.

Our annual conference is a constant feature in the diaries of the Social Work Scotland staff from July to the big event itself each June.  It’s a mammoth task (also taking into account the personal preparation of preparing meals, doing a weeks’ worth of homework in one night, and promising overpriced gifts (usually unnecessary plastic objects) to my children, so I can have a guilt-free 2 nights away). But once we’re there I am always bowled over by the numbers of people who turn up year after year and who leave refreshed, replenished with ideas and buoyed by the time they have had, away from the pressures of their office, to think and to consider and to learn.

Each year, the most popular speakers by far are those who speak from personal experience. This year was no different. We heard from Harry about his experience in care; from Andrew about his life changing accident; and from Sue and Angela about their roles in caring for family. Each was a story of courage and determination and each reminded us all of how important social work is in the lives of people who need support; but more than that, it reminded each and every person in the hall how important it is to listen and understand the people we are trying to support and to work with them.

Hearing from those people about their lives, meant that the last minute speaker call off (yes Mr Johnson, I mean you); and the Thick of It moment when the hall was emptying for a tea break just as the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training was walking in, melted way and we all just listened. We appreciated. We were reminded.

So, thank you to all of you who came. We’ll see you next year. We start planning again next week.

Jane Devine is the Business Manager of Social Work Scotland