I’m delighted that the Scottish Social Services Awards will continue for 2018. The Awards are about recognising and valuing the life changing work being carried out daily by the tens of thousands of people working across the social services sector. You only have to look at our 2017 winners to see how people are making a real difference to those in need of extra help and support.

With nominations now open for the 2018 awards, I’m hoping even more people will take inspiration to apply or put forward an individual, team or organisation they think is deserving of a coveted award. This is your chance to showcase the incredible work that is done across the sector and recognise the dedicated work of people in your teams.

This year we’re pleased to be introducing a new policy focus award. To tie in with 2018 being the Year of Young People we’re looking to highlight the excellent work done in children’s services to support our most vulnerable young people.  We’re looking forward to working with Children in Scotland to make sure this new category is judged by those who really matter – young people with lived experience of care.

The Bright Spark award will also continue, with a renewed focus on young people aged between 16 and 26 who are going that extra mile working in the sector.

There is a lot to celebrate across the sector so our other distinct categories are also back rewarding innovation, partnership working and learning and development.  Do you, or someone you know, have the courage to take a risk or put your head above the parapet? Perhaps your team makes research and evidence real or lives the SSSC codes? There is a category for everyone so please make sure you take the time to think about entering and encourage your teams to apply.

This year, our award ceremony will take place at the fantastic Mansfield Traquair in Edinburgh, with a special afternoon tea for everyone who makes the shortlist in June 2018. I hope to see you there.