After the success of the first one earlier this year, I know the Scottish Social Services Awards 2018 will be a great event.  And it’s more than that – it’s a great platform to showcase the exceptional talent of our workforce.

I was hugely impressed by the entries for the 2017 awards. As a judge, I can say it was really tricky to whittle down the shortlist and even harder choosing just one winner – in some cases almost impossible. Every finalist was a star and I’m proud of the inspirational stories our sector has to tell. I know it will be the same this year and I’m already excited to see the entries.

People working in social services often think they’re just doing their job when they are actually changing people’s lives. These awards are a good way to recognise the valuable contribution people make in their work and to celebrate success. To say thank you to people who inspire us all.

As Chair of Supporting the Workforce  categories, I am delighted that there are three awards dedicated to valuing people and learning from good practice. The Scottish Social Services Codes of Practice are close to my heart, and it’s always fantastic to see examples of how people are bringing them to life, making it a part of what they do every day.

I don’t underestimate how hard it is when money is increasingly tight, but commitment to developing the existing and future workforce is crucial and we will be recognising employers who are doing that. I know we’ll see some unique and innovative ways to share knowledge and learning.

In 2018, Scotland’s Year of Young People, our Bright Spark award will focus on young people working within a care and support setting. We’re looking for people aged between 16 and 26 who have a positive attitude, are proud of the work they do, take the time to understand the people they support and help them realise their potential or inspire others to work in social services.

Nominations for #SSSA18 are now open and there are lots of hints and tips online to help people write their best nomination, including films of all our previous finalists. I encourage as many people as possible to enter the awards, despite how difficult I know it will be for me to judge!