The dedication and achievement of social workers across Scotland was recognised when Childcare and Early Years Minister Mark McDonald presented the SASW Social Work Awards on Tuesday.
The annual Scottish Association of Social Work awards were held in Edinburgh on World Social Work Day before an audience of 120 guests, including social workers and people who use services who had come along to support their nominations.
People were invited to demonstrate their practice under the World Social Work Day 2017 theme of “Promoting community and environmental sustainability”.
This year awards were made in four categories and judged by a panel of SASW committee members and staff. There were also a number of Special Awards for Leadership, Collaborative Working and Recognition by Users of Services.
Guests were entertained by the Edinburgh Phoenix Soul & Gospel Choir and poet and performer Ellen Renton, originally from Edinburgh and now based in Glasgow.
Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, said: “Every day social workers make a direct and critical contribution to our shared goal of building a fairer, more equal and socially just and inclusive Scotland.
“Social work changes lives and social workers should be proud of that. Social work matters and it is a profession that everyone in Scotland needs to value, support and protect.
“All the nominees demonstrate that challenge and change can bring real opportunities to do things differently to enable people to have better lives and it is from these opportunities that we hear the most inspiring stories. I want to congratulate everyone who took part – you truly are a credit to your profession.”
SASW Manager Trisha Hall said: “Social workers are a small but vital part of the social services workforce in Scotland. With this celebration, we also aim to highlight all the other social workers united by the unique professional identity our association promotes and supports.
“The examples and stories that we share on the night are reflections of work which supports but crucially also protects, enables and empowers individuals and communities in what can be extremely difficult circumstances. It makes us proud to be social workers in Scotland.”
The winners in each category are given below:
Social Worker of the Year
WINNER: Ailsa Rainnie, Social Worker, Care and Learning Children’s Services, Highland Council
Newly qualified Ailsa is described quite simply as a “breath of fresh air” by colleagues and service users alike. Her approach to young people is inclusive and her attitude clear but non-judgmental. Where possible, she focuses on the need for families to achieve sustained change so that they can carry on without social work support. Creative and reflective, she is always open to different ways of doing things.
Social Work Team of the Year
WINNER: Women Who Offend Team, Fife Council
From the outset, this team has been proactive in working with partners including housing, community learning and development, NHS and voluntary organisations such as SACRO. It also set up WINGS, a one-stop shop where women can receive a wide range of services. WINGS now offers sessions in five areas of Fife resulting in significant increases in women accessing services and taking part in activities.
Student Social Worker of the Year
WINNER: Kazamira McGroarty, Dumfries and Galloway Council, University of the West of Scotland
Kazamira’s strong ethical base was shown on placement when she supported a 15-year-old victim of a serious sexual assault. The young person had little trust in social work but Kazamira managed to have frank discussions about sexual activities, substance misuse and keeping safe. The young person did not want to press charges and despite police pressure Kazamira stood firm on the right to choose.
Practice Teacher of the Year
WINNER: Jim Paul, Senior Social Worker, Dumfries and Galloway Council
Jim consistently delivers a high quality service to his students and also the children and families he works with every day as a newly appointed senior social worker. Not only is he a remarkable social worker and practice teacher with a great sense of humour, he can also deal with serious issues with compassion and dedication. He is seen as the ‘go to’ man whenever people need help in the team.
Special Award: Recognition by Users of Services
WINNER: Diane Morrow, Social Worker, Easter Ross Community Mental Health Team
Diana works with very vulnerable people whose lives have been turned around and they are now living in the community. Friendly and approachable, she always treats people with dignity and respect. One service user says: “Every time we meet up she has been very polite, respectful of how I feel, supports me to make realistic goals and encourages me to meet them. I believe we need thousands more like her.”
Special Award: Best Example of Collaborative Working in Integrated Setting
WINNER: Care at Home Team, West Dunbartonshire
More and more older people are living independently at home through the dedicated work of this team of skilled staff. The team forms a crucial part of the partnership’s integrated provision for older people and those in need. As well as an excellent core service, it created an integrated out of hours care at home and district nursing service to respond more effectively to risks and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
Special Award: Leadership in Social Work
WINNER: Dundee University Student Social Work Action Network
This dedicated band of social work students has worked hard to not only become one of the most active branches of the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) in the country but also help change how students learn and develop. Last summer, three students travelled to the camp for displaced people in Calais to show solidarity, deliver aid and contribute to a report into mental health and human rights violations.
Photo Credit: Graham Clark