General Hints & Tips
Check out our previous winners: you can read their written entries and watch their promotional films on our previous winners page so you can see the standards that our judges expect.
Read all the categories carefully and make sure you enter the most appropriate one: you must be able to answer the questions and provide evidence or examples of how you are meeting the criteria, which is different for each category.
Get permission from your team, organisation or a person you want to nominate: an email would be ideal. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get approval.
Don’t leave it to the last minute: you can start preparing now by planning what you want to say and gather details of examples or evidence you want to include in your written submission.
Before you start, you can download a word version of the entry form to work on a draft offline - although all applications must be submitted online.
Tell a story: help your entry stand out to the judges by having a clear beginning, middle and end so it reads like an interesting story. Check out our plain English guide and avoid jargon so a lay person can understand it.
Provide evidence: use information from research, practice, wisdom, service data or lived experience to demonstrate how the person, team or organisation has specifically met the award criteria. Try to avoid generalisation or assumptions. Select quotes and data from reports, surveys, feedback or testimonials from people who use services or other individuals involved – judges will be looking for clear evidence of the difference this project or person has made to the people it supports.
Edit your entry more than once: leave time between re-writing drafts. Don’t waste words and don’t use jargon or technical terms. Ask a colleague to proof the final version for errors and make sure it reads well.
Stick to the rules: don’t use more than the allocated word count per question. Don’t attach images of supporting information (apart from optional testimonials). Don’t create or submit a film at this stage – only shortlisted entries will be asked to do this.
Allow plenty of time to complete the online entry form: we recommend that you register in advance and get familiar with the system. Once you have started your entry you will be able to save a draft and return to it at another time. However, once it has been submitted as the final version you will no longer be able to edit it.
Be on time: all entries must be in before 6pm on Friday 21 February 2020.
Winning this award has brought fantastic benefits to our staff, the team and our association. So much good work goes unrecognised and, as a Manager there is nothing more fulfilling than a fully functional team who are recognised and rewarded for the great work they do.Sheltered Housing Services Manager, Port of Leith Housing Association
This recognition was an excellent opportunity for a very new service to become more visible and raise awareness of the important work carried out on equality and on protecting the human rights of vulnerable people in Scotlandâ€™s Black and Minority Ethnic communities.Service Team Leader, Bright Choices
This was a huge confidence boost for me, as it came as I began my social work career. It also acted as wonderful recognition of Glasgow Caledonian University and East Ayrshire Council Health and Social Care Partnershipâ€™s commitment to providing quality social work placements. Itâ€™s vital that we use all available opportunities to recognise social services workers who have â€˜gone the extra mileâ€™ and made differences to the lives of others. As such, I would implore anyone connected to this amazing profession to nominate any individual, team, service or organisation that deserves public praise for their efforts.Social Work Student, Glasgow Caledonian University
The award meant a great deal to the organisation and all our members. We were delighted and extremely proud to receive this accolade. We would recommend others to apply for the SSSA awards where achievements are recognised and celebrated on a national, public platform. Itâ€™s an opportunity to proudly share the positive social benefits that such innovative, user-led projects can bring about and reinforces the need to continue supporting them.C-Change Scotland
It was great to have recognition and be nominated. It helped to raise the profile of the service - winning was an added bonus! The video helped to bring the service to life and was very powerful, clearly showing how vital it is to have an empathetic approach which puts people first. Both services working together enhances how we can help people and show how effective collaborative working can be when there is a clear understanding of the needs of the client group.Glasgow Women's Supported Bail Service
Having the opportunity to celebrate the positive impact the service has on the lives of the individuals we support is a great feeling! Services, teams and individuals should definitely enter these awards. It's a great forum to raise the profile of the care sector and acknowledge all the amazing people who work so hard to support individuals to live a meaningful life.
Winning the Making Change Happen Category reinforced to us that what we were doing was well thought of externally, by our professional body, SSSC. This professional recognition really boosted the team. It has also opened doors for us as an Organisation ; introducing us to people and organisations to increase the awareness of the work we do and in time seeing this type of initiative mirrored in other organisationsCorinne Morrison-Gillies, Head of HR Operations and People Development
Top Mistakes To Avoid
- Entering the wrong category: take time to read all the categories and criteria listed in each of the bullet points before deciding what you could enter. Only enter a category if you can evidence meeting the criteria.
- Making mistakes: once you have prepared your application, check all your details before you submit the form online and double check and save a copy of your entry after receiving the confirmation email. Always edit and proof your entry and use plain English to avoid social services jargon.
- Not providing evidence: if you make a claim, be sure to back it up with evidence. This could be statistics such as number of people who use services who benefitted or comments from feedback reports, testimonials from colleagues etc. Judges will look for clear evidence of the change or impact the project or person has had on the people supported.
- Not answering the questions: each category lists a series of bullet points of ‘what we are looking for’. Your answers to questions 2 and 3 in particular should say where possible how you have met each of these criteria. You might want to list your answers in similar bullet point format. You will be marked on how well you meet the criteria in each bullet point. Please note, if you fail to provide information for one of these you will receive a score of zero.
- Submitting old work: we understand that social services projects develop over time but we want to recognise current work and practice so are looking for entries to use evidence of positive results obtained within the last two years.
You can create more impact if you:
- write in plain English – use everyday language and short sentences (between 15-23 words)
- tell a compelling story – especially important when you’re writing an award entry; judges will read dozens of entries and you want yours to stand out – and win!
- cut out the jargon and abbreviations you normally use in official reports that can make your writing sound a bit bureaucratic
Have a look at our examples below for some Plain English hints and tips. If you read your writing back it should sound like how you would normally speak.
Be clear and avoid using too many words:
Say what you mean and don’t pad out your writing by using unnecessary words and phrases:
|Instead of writing||You would say|
|in the near future||soon|
|at this point in time||now|
|a wide range||many|
|due to the fact that||because|
|in order to||so|
|this affords us the opportunity to||this allows us to/we can|
|in the event that||if|
|with regard to||about|
|consensus of opinion||consensus|
|integral part of||important|
Avoid double negatives (phrases like ‘not only’ and ‘but also’)
For example, instead of writing: This has informed not only the daily work of the team when delivering interventions, but also enabled us to develop…
Say: This has informed the daily work of the team and enabled us to…
Make your writing active
Most people write using a lot of passive verbs which can sound bureaucratic, impersonal and cold. Make your writing more active by putting in words like I/we/you, to make it clear who is ‘doing the doing’. For example:
Passive: Our tenants are supported to make informed choices
Active: We help our tenants to make informed choices
Passive: Care and support is provided
Active: We provide care and support
Passive: Consideration was given to
Active: We considered
Passive: There was huge commitment demonstrated by staff
Active: Staff demonstrated huge commitment
Avoid hidden verbs
Spot them by …ion endings and passive verbs.
For example: An analysis of the system was performed in order to facilitate a comparison with the implementation of
Could become: We analysed the system to compare how we had implemented….
Try and avoid jargon: social services can be full of lots of words and phrases other people don’t understand. Assume your reader does not work in social care, so use everyday language to explain concepts. Sometimes this may mean using more words, not less. For example:
|Instead of writing||You might say|
|Service users||People who use services|
|Person-centred approach||Put people first|
|Improving outcomes||Make things better|
|Personalised care package||Care for their needs|
|Re-enablement||Help them get better|
|Service delivery||Our service|
It’s easy to check the average number of words per sentence by using the spell checker in Word.
Proof your entry a couple of times to find and cut padding words you don’t need.
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Final call for nominations for the 2020 Scottish Social Services Awards