Countdown to Christmas

19-dec-blog-1With the festive season fast approaching, the last couple of weeks saw a slowing down of what has been an extensive programme of visits over the past twelve months. During the course of this financial year my office managed to arrange over 45 visits for me around Scotland 19-dec-blog-8and my meetings with local authorities incorporated further visits to private, independent and third sector organisations.

In the last few weeks I called on three highly interesting and informative organisations – North Merchiston Care Home in Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire Council and Alzheimer’s Scotland`s Bridgeton Resource Centre.  Each provided a warm welcome and in keeping with every visit I’ve made, I left with something to think about and share with the wider sector.

During a full programme at North Merchiston, I had the opportunity to view some of the19-dec-blog-2 short videos prepared for the recent Scottish Care conference.  They are short films made by the talented filmmaker Duncan Cowles, whose warm and empathetic recording style provided residents with an opportunity to reflect on parts of their lives.  I understand there wasn`t a dry eye in the house at the conference – and now I know why!

Fraserburgh and Banff were the locations selected for me during my visit to Aberdeenshire Council.  The opportunity to meet with the Adult Care Management Team, Family Support and members of the Mental Health Team all contributed to an excellent day.  A particular highlight was 19-dec-blog-3meeting staff of Inspire 27, a social enterprise company on the High Street of Banff town centre.  This craft shop was born from a consultation on a move away from traditional day care provision towards more personalised services for adults with learning disabilities.  It is now a retail shop with workshop facilities where crafts are made and sold by individuals who use this service and in total around 140 craft makers sell their products here, making it a very successful enterprise which provides a stimulus for Banff High St.  Congratulations to all involved and if you are in Banff, the staff will be delighted to welcome you.

If you know the east-end of Glasgow of old, it is not difficult to visualise the pubs which dominated the landscape of these areas and which were often situated on the corner of the19-dec-blog-4 busiest streets. That is exactly the site of Alzheimer Scotland`s Bridgeton Resource Centre – an appropriate setting for an organisation so closely associated with the growing challenges of Dementia which face us today.  Whilst most of us tend to associate dementia with the over 65s, Karen, who is supported by the centre, reminded me of the acute challenges for those who care for individuals with early onset dementia.  Karen shared many of the practical, emotional and significant financial challenges that she and her partner face on a daily basis.  Alzheimer Scotland provides a lifeline to so many people and families in Scotland and it may well be an organisation that many of us will require to seek support from in the future.

Regular readers will know that I try to share through this blog, examples of the excellent practice I see on my visits and that I pass on these examples during my discussions and meetings which form such an important part of my role as Chief Social Work Adviser.

19-dec-blog-5The sharing of excellent practice will be the basis for The Scottish Social Services Awards which will be launched on 16 January 2017 and take place on 13 June 2017 at the Crieff Hydro Hotel.  The awards are facilitated by the Social Work Services Strategic Forum and you will be able to enter as an individual, a team or an organisation, or you can even nominate anyone from the sector you think should be considered for an award.  19-dec-blog-6

A full website with more details on how to enter is coming soon, but in the meantime you can register your email contacts at and follow the twitter feed @SSSAwards

As 2017 draws to a close I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have welcomed both me and members of my team to your organisations.

I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone on my travels and I am inspired by the passion, the skills and the determination of all those who work to change the lives of so many of our most vulnerable citizens. The current challenges for the sector are significant, however, I continue to be humbled by the willpower and high degree of motivation throughout the local authorities, independent and third sectors.19-dec-blog-7

In closing, I wish you and your families the very best for the festive season and a healthy and happy New Year when it comes.

Best wishes,