The new year might only be two weeks old, but plans are already progressing at a pace to celebrate the incredible work undertaken by the social service sector.

A key event this year to recognise and celebrate the work and achievements of the workforce, will be the Scottish Social Services Awards, which will take place on 13 June 2017 in Crieff, hosted by Sally Magnusson.

Valuing the workforce was a key message at the last hearing of the Health and Sport Committee Inquiry into the Social and Community Care Workforce and when the Social Work Services Strategic Forum met in June last year, it was agreed that these Awards will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the value of the sector and highlight the commitment of those who work within it and the very real difference they make to people’s lives.

These Awards will complement existing awards held by individual organisations and will be national Awards by the sector for the sector, which incorporate and are inclusive of all parts of the workforce.

The Awards opened yesterday for nominations and I’d encourage you to take a look, particularly at the categories which are equally innovative, including ‘Bright spark’, for an individual who is new to social services but is already making a real difference to someone’s life, ‘Silo buster’, to recognise joined up thinking, working and delivering during a time of integration and change and ‘The untold story’, to celebrate the unsung hero or inspiring individual who may think they are just doing their job.

You can nominate an individual, a team or organisation, or you can even nominate yourself, even if you’ve been nominated or won an award in the past year. So whether you are in the voluntary or independent sector, or employed by a local authority, the Awards will be about showcasing innovation and good practice, of which I have frequently seen so many examples as I have travelled throughout the country meeting with frontline staff.

Updates and information on how to enter can be found at, or follow progress of nominations on twitter at @SSSAwards and #SSSA17

In welcoming the launch of the new Awards, Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years said:

“The life changing and challenging work undertaken by the people who work across our social services cannot, and should not, be underestimated.   This valuable work  is crucial to creating a more equal and socially just Scotland.  The people in this sector should be justifiably proud of the work they do.

“It is therefore right that we start 2017 by launching the Scottish Social Services Awards so that we all have an opportunity to recognise this valuable workforce. These new Awards will be a great opportunity to demonstrate the excellent work going on across the sector and how people are using all of their values, knowledge and skills to support real improvement in people’s lives.

“Every day I see examples of the what the people in this sector do to support some of our most vulnerable people – these Awards are the chance to hear their stories and recognise the difference they are making to people’s lives. There’s a lot to be proud of in our social services, and I look forward to meeting the winners at the Awards ceremony in June 2017.”

The Award ceremony on 13 June 2017 will be preceded by a mini Expo event to highlight the work of the sector and provide an opportunity to share good practice. There will be a mixture of workshops and speakers as well as a market place showcasing innovative services and approaches.  Further details on this will follow in due course.

Looking ahead, 2017 will see us plan the way forward for the Vision and Strategy for Social Services 2015-2020 and in November last year, Forum members and colleagues from across the sector attended a workshop to consider and discuss a refresh of the actions within the Vision and Strategy.  We reviewed what the Strategy has achieved thus far and we discussed the changing external landscape and what new actions were needed to address key issues.

In the coming weeks I plan to visit Perth and Kinross Council, managers and frontline practitioners at Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carewatch in Stevenson and a workshop arranged by NHS Highland which will focus on improvement and capacity.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Scottish Social Services Awards in June!