Following the announcement in late February, I am delighted to report that Iona Colvin has been appointed as the new Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government.
Iona`s experience as Director of North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and Integrated Joint Board Chief Officer will be an asset to the Scottish Government, as will her leadership qualities be to the wider sector over the next few years. The future of the sector will be in good hands and I look forward to having time with Iona before my departure in Mid April.
I am also delighted that over 150 nominations were received for the new Scottish Social Services Awards, which is taking place on 13 June 2017 at the Crieff Hydro. Entries were wide spread throughout the sector and sparked interest from the length and breadth of Scotland – a very encouraging response for the first year.
Attention has now turned to the challenging task of shortlisting from a high quality field. Under the leadership of Anna Fowlie the workforce judging panel were first off the mark and considered a sizeable number of entries in the ‘Living the Codes’, ‘Bright Spark’ and ‘Enlightened Approach’ categories. If the entries in these three categories are anything to go by, then I look forward to seeing the full shortlist for all ten categories which will be announced next month. Members of the Strategic Forum will then decide the winners ahead of the Award Ceremony in June. The awards will be preceded by a Social Services Expo showcasing excellent practice across local authorities, independent and third sectors. This will be a free event for practitioners to attend, further details to follow in due course.
Last week heralded my last meeting of the National Social Work Services Strategic Forum, chaired by the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald. The Forum continues to be core to the further development of the sector in Scotland, remaining alive and responsive to the very fluid world we are all working in. It is equally vital that the Forum review its membership and to this end I am delighted to welcome Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive Community Justice Scotland to the Forum.
Karyn`s experience will increase the profile of criminal justice social work at a time of considerable change for the sector and an area which requires closer connection to the Forum`s work. It is a timely reminder of the imminent changes when Community Justice Scotland formally replaces the Community Justice Authorities at the beginning of April this year.
Turning a little nostalgic for a moment, I think back to a time when I, along with Colin McKenzie, former Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council and David Crawford, formerly Director of Social Work at Glasgow City Council, worked closely with the Scottish Government when the creation of a national agency was one of the options being proposed.
It was vital then and remains vital now, that community justice (including criminal justice services) are developed and delivered locally. To this end the Community Justice Authorities successfully brought together key agencies to help tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviour. Community Justice Scotland and locally based services, will help bring about greater consistency, leadership, staff development and most importantly, a strong emphasis on prevention. Good luck to colleagues leaving the CJAs at the end of March and I wish them all well in the future.
As my time in Scottish Government comes to an end next month, preparation is now underway to help ease my successor into her new role. We will have an overlap over the first couple of weeks when I will pass on the tremendous opportunity that the post of Chief Social Work Adviser brings.
My last blog will be posted at the end of March which will reflect on a busy and productive past four years. Until then, enjoy the increasingly light mornings and evenings as Easter beckons.