I hope, like me, you will have positively revelled in a summer of fantastic sport. From Andy Murray`s success at Wimbledon, the underdogs taking centre stage at the European Football Championships, the most exciting final round for nearly forty years at the Open Championship and fresh in the memory, the outstanding achievements of Great Britain`s stars at the Olympics. Whatever your interest, you could not fail to be impressed by the incredible talent, dedication and sacrifice made by these individuals and their families over many years. Each athlete with their own stories of how they reached the very top of their individual discipline regardless of whether they won a medal or not. For many, just being able to compete at the Olympics or qualify for the finals, was the goal. For many, the inspiration was watching and learning from the successes of past sporting greats.
You may reasonably draw a conclusion that I have spent the summer stretched out in front of a large screen, channel hopping to tune into the very best of the action. That would only be partly true, as the work of the Office of the Chief Social Work Officer continued at a pace, perhaps in keeping with the elegant style and coordination associated with the synchronised divers or the teamwork of our fantastic cyclists!
Whilst my summer tour did not reach the spectacular surroundings of Rio de Janeiro, I continued to be inspired during visits to Rossie Young People’s Trust, Includem, Stirling Council and YPeople. I also accompanied the Minister for Childcare and Early Years to the Care Inspectorate, SSSC, and Seymore House, home to the multi – disciplinary child protection team in Dundee. The dedication, energy and resilience that staff continue to demonstrate day to day is as inspiring as our top athletes!
I was delighted to spend a morning at Rossie School as part of the induction of staff, often working in the most challenging of circumstances. Rossie, like our other secure residential units in Scotland, provides much more of a holistic approach to the care of Scotland`s young people and, if like me, you haven`t visited before or haven`t been for a number of years, it is a trip worth making and you are sure to receive a very warm welcome. Best of luck to all the new recruits, including Rossie`s new Chief Executive, Mary Geaney.
Early August saw me visiting Includem in Glasgow for a second time. Their work on outcomes continues to develop at a pace and with the recruitment of Head and Assistant Head of Strategic Development to reflect their ambitions, Includem will undoubtedly continue to provide `stickability` to many young people. I would also like to wish my Scottish Government colleague Marion Gillooly, the best of luck in her new role with Includem.
From Includem to Inclusion – and from Pollockshaws to Scotstoun I took a short hop (or very long jump) across the Clyde and met with Director Sheila Scott and her staff along with supported adults, who put me through my paces in relation to some of their frustrations in relation to self – directed support! Inclusion is in my view breaking down some of the barriers of SDS and without doubt to the benefits of adults who are putting their trust in the skills and creativity of an organisation who are changing the lives of adults, many of whom spent far too many years in institutionalised care.
My visits to third sector organisations over the summer concluded with a visit to Ypeople and a chance to catch up with Joe Connolly and his team, who have taken the former YMCA in Glasgow, modernised and expanded the organisation and now undertakes work from Orkney to Ayrshire and from after school care to peer mentoring as well as supporting individuals and families in a range of supported environments. Once again `stickability` is key to their success.
My final visit in August was to Stirling Council where I had a chance to hear about the changes and challenges of a local authority who, earlier this year, decided to go out on their own having shared social work services under the leadership of Val De Souza for a number of years. It will create new opportunities for new Chief Social Work Officer, Marie Valente and her management team along with frontline staff, to create a new direction for services.
I would like to draw your attention to the excellent work being undertaken by Children`s Hearing Scotland and SCRA over recent weeks and months. SCRA has recently prepared a new briefing sheet for newly qualified social workers which will help prepare children and young people for Hearings. This is part of the work of the Children`s Hearing Improvement Partnership which has a true partnership approach and collective responsibility for improving the experiences of children and their families. The website www.chip-partnership.co.uk provides information on recent developments in relation to Getting it Right in the Hearing System.
Children`s Hearing Scotland are currently seeking 500 new members and if you believe you have something to contribute to supporting some of Scotland`s most vulnerable children please go to http://www.chscotland.gov.uk/recent-news/2016/08/call-for-500-new-childrens-panel-members-issued/ for further details.
Finally, thank you to Donald Macaskill and Jane Johnstone for their guest blogs over the last four weeks and if you think the sporting summer is rapidly coming to an end, don`t forget that the US Open is just round the corner. Can Andy continue to push for the number 1 spot?
The unique qualities of the Ryder Cup will be upon us in late September, already rekindling memories for me of that amazing final day at Gleneagles nearly two years ago. If only I could play like that. Ah well back to reality and the TV!
More Talking Social Services from me at the end of September. Before then we’ll have another guest blog from Trisha Hall of the Scottish Association of Social Workers (SASW)