Back to School

It’s officially autumn and a return to my fortnightly blogs,Parliament and a welcome back to the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell. My thanks to workstrand leads Jane, Robert, Anna and Andy for their contributions over the summer. I hope you enjoyed their reflections and in particular hearing four important contributions to the work of the Social Services Strategy.

A break from the blog has not meant any less demands for me or the team, working hard on a number of fronts with the Cabinet Secretary and Acting Minister, Fiona McLeod on both front line engagement events and Ms McLeod’s commitment to meeting frontline staff in their working environments.Inverness To this end a further two frontline events took place in Stirling and Inverness both attracting full houses and a rich source of information for the afore mentioned workstrand leads for the Strategy. Stirling Cab Sec 2One further event will take place on Tuesday 22 September at the West Park Conference Centre. Further information on how to book a place can be found at: The information gleaned from the round table discussions are passed to the workstrand leads, thus ensuring a live connection between the views of front line staff and the implementation of the strategy. An overview report of all five engagement events will be published by the end of the calendar year.

The Minister also took time to visit a range of frontline services in Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow and Inverness. What struck us both was the the focus on improvement, outcomes, evidence based practice coupled with hard work on moving services back up stream towards earlier intervention. Minister Glasgow VisitThe stories of looked after young people during visits were inspiring but also highlighted just how much progress the sector and partners need to make in order that looked after children get the very best opportunities. We heard excellent examples of just how much can change when there is a commitment to listen, learn and act from the voice of our looked after children. I would like to thank Fiona McLeod for her support of the sector over the last eight months. All of of the visits have been open, honest and challenging for all involved.

The last month has also seen changes within Scottish Government with the appointment of Olivia MacLeod, Director, Children and Families who was previously Depute Director within Children and Families before moving to the Department of Education in England. Even closer to home, a welcome to Jess Milne who will provide me with my support within OCSWA and has already joined me on a visit to Glasgow.

One of the most stimulating visits of the summer period was a trip to a Barnardos project in Easterhouse, Glasgow and a meeting with two dads who sang the praises of Triple P- Positive Parenting Programme. Their honesty about themselves as individuals and as parents before and after participation in the programme was not only refreshing but evangelical! They now provide mentoring and support for other parents on the programme. Triple P has undoubtedly changed their lives and that of their children.

Finally the latest workforce figures were published by the Scottish Social Services Council last week. Interesting to note an increase of 5.3 % in the workforce over the past year but with only 15% being men, the sector needs to consider how best it attracts more males into the social services – as issue picked up by care providers in England last week. Read the 2014 workforce data report

As you read this the IFSW Conference and Expo is underway with 600 delegates arriving in Edinburgh – an opportunity to share learning across many countries and to showcase all that is positive about social work here in Scotland!