The outstanding achievement of social workers in Scotland was recognised when Children and Young People Minister Aileen Campbell presented the SASW Social Work Awards last night in Edinburgh.
The annual Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) awards, which were fittingly held on World Social Work Day, attracted an audience of 160 guests, including social workers and people who use services who had come along to support their nominations.
This year the awards were made in nine categories and judged by a panel of SASW committee members and partners such as the Scottish Government and Scottish Social Services Council.
The evening also included a special Lifetime Achievement Award for Annette and Bob Holman, who as social workers have worked tirelessly for the communities in which they lived and were actively involved in, most specifically Easterhouse, Glasgow.
Guests were entertained by ‘Stand up for Social Workers’ - two comedians who provide a very different perspective on their work - and Vox Liminis, a charity that uses the power of music to help change offending behaviour.
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, said: "Social work is truly life changing work. It is one of the most demanding and complex professions which makes difficult decisions every day to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
"The work done by those nominated for the SASW awards is crucial to creating a more equal and socially just society and each and every nominee should be very proud. These standard bearers of social work are a credit to their profession and to Scotland."
SASW Manager Trisha Hall said: “Workers nominated for the awards are a few winners within a fiercely dedicated workforce across our country. With this celebration, we also aim to highlight all the others united by the unique professional identity our association promotes and supports.
“The examples and stories that we share - in the face of an increasingly difficult environment affected by budget cuts, austerity and increased need - make us proud to be social workers in Scotland.”
The winners in each category are given below:
Social Work Team: Best Practice through Ongoing Learning
WINNER: Social Services Learning and Development Team, Stirling CouncilThe team is an example of professionals who, despite experiencing the upheaval of becoming one team as a result of two councils coming together to deliver services and subsequently reverting to two separate councils, have continued to actively and imaginatively deliver vital learning, training and support to social work staff.
Social Work Team: Best Example of Collaborative Working in Integrated Setting
WINNER: Public Protection Team, Criminal Justice Services, Angus CouncilThis team works in close collaboration with a wide range of partners and agencies to manage high risk offenders. One service user commented that he really wanted to nominate the team as “they are there for the good times and there for the hard times.”
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Health and Social Care Team, Aberdeen City CouncilThis highlights a very specific occasion - the serious flooding in January and subsequent emergency evacuation of three care homes in north Aberdeen. The actions of the team, way in which they worked and care and compassion shown to vulnerable residents, carers and families was described as “an outstanding piece of social care.”
Social Work Lecturer of the Year
WINNER: John Sturgeon, University of the West of ScotlandJohn came to academia after a long career in social work. He is nominated for his commitment to quality social work education as well as his use of new technologies to create interactive and engaging learning. One student said: “The whole new delivery of social work practice teaching made me the reflective practitioner I am becoming today.”
Practice Teacher of the Year
WINNER: Sylvia Sword, Family Support Worker, Circle, EdinburghSylvia creates safe and supportive learning spaces and encourages students to learn across professional roles and agencies. Despite current uncertainties about funding, she maintains her enthusiasm for the role and the vitally important opportunity for social work students to learn in the third sector.
Residential Care Worker of the Year
WINNER: Annette Robertson, Care Visions, Cowdenlaws Farm, KirkcaldyOne service user said: “Annette supports me and my mum, and helps us resolve our differences. She is there to support me when I am upset.” Another commented: “Annette never moans or complains and has helped me set goals and achieve them. She creates a sense of community and safety for everyone.”
Student Social Worker of the Year (Practice Award)
WINNER: Katie Armstrong, Dumfries and Galloway Council (University of the West of Scotland)While on placement Katie worked with a young mother and child who had previously been resistant to social work intervention. She created a cartoon character called “GIRFEC”, wrote a small children’s book and used it to help young children explore their understanding of their world. She was described as “right out of the top drawer” by one carer
Social Worker of the Year
WINNER: Pete Cloke, Family Support Worker Fathers, Haven Project, Circle, EdinburghPete works with fathers to allow them to take a full and active role in their children’s lives. He facilitates a weekly “Dad’s Community Group” in Pilton in the north of Edinburgh which allows space for isolated or new fathers to engage with others. He also co-facilitates a “Becoming Dad” group that supports men’s transformation into fatherhood.
Special Award: Recognition by a Person Who Uses Services
Michael Sweeney, Social Worker, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire CouncilThis nomination is the result of a process of almost a year, when a young person first approached SASW to ask how to nominate this social worker. Michael is described as a constant in six years of this person’s complex and turbulent life. The young person is clear that without his incredible support the pathway might have been very different: “He didn’t walk away when many others did.” It is real testimony to what the profession is about.
Special Award: Leadership in Social Work
Elinor Thompson, Social Worker, Children’s Services, Shetland Islands CouncilElinor (pictured receiving her award) is described as “first and foremost a social worker, who leads by example in our team, she is child-centred, reflective and relationship based. She has raised the profile of children and families work in Shetland.” Elinor has championed multi-agency working and forged excellent relationships with other agencies. She is a reflective, thoughtful and genuinely child-centred social worker.
Special Lifetime Achievement Award
Annette and Bob HolmanThis award bears testimony to the work done by Annette and Bob Holman over their lifetimes as social workers within the communities in which they lived, especially Easterhouse in Glasgow.
Annette and Bob practised what they preached and worked tirelessly with and for people in the communities where they lived and were an active part of. They stood up with and for the people through real and sustainable action.
Their passion for the cause and the difference they made are their legacy, and one which is an inspiration to all those who aspire to be and remain true social workers.