Falkirk teams pick up national social service awards

Local teams supporting people with mental health conditions and women with experience in the criminal justice system have been recognised for their good work in social services.

Fielding a combined entry to the Scottish Social Services Awards, Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership’s Joint Dementia Initiative (JDI) and Caledonia Service have been awarded Excellence within Mental Health Services, while Falkirk Council’s Women’s Justice Service has been triumphant in the Excellence in Justice Services category.

The teams picked up their awards at the ceremony in Glasgow, where finalists gathered to showcase and celebrate best practice within Scotland’s social services sector.

The national awards programme, launched in 2017, is organised by the Scottish Government and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (Iriss) to highlight commitment, innovative approaches, and raise the profile of the sector.

Commenting on the success of the Women’s Justice Service, which was commended for providing trauma-informed mental health and community-based support, Ali Walls, Service Manager, said: “This is a huge achievement for our small, dedicated, team. Winning this award provides recognition for the unique challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system and the tailored approach we have designed together to provide each woman with needs-led specialist support services.”

The JDI and Caledonia Service were awarded Excellence in Mental Health Services for their recent work to transform both services and offer more support options throughout the community.

Margaret Thom, Team Manager at JDI, explained what the award win means to them: “I’m pleased our teams have received the praise they deserve on this national platform. Colleagues have been working hard to create support options throughout our local communities for people living with dementia and mental health conditions. Our two services work closely to learn from each other and foster a community of support – so it’s great we have received this award together.”

The successful Falkirk winners were two of three local entries nominated to the awards, with Falkirk’s Learning Disability Team also a finalist within the Excellence in Disability Services category.

The winners were announced at the 2023 Scottish Social Services Awards ceremony on 23 November at the Glasgow Science Centre.

A full list of nominees and award category details can be found on the Scottish Social Services Awards website.

About Falkirk’s finalists

Joint Dementia Initiative and Caledonia Service

WINNER: Excellence in Mental Health Services Category
These co-located services entered a combined nomination to showcase strong teamworking and a joined-up approach. Supporting adults living with severe mental illness and people with dementia, the services have been embedding a community ethos – enabling support to break free from the four walls of a traditional building based-service and offer more support options while out and about. This has involved new partnerships with the likes of Forestry Land Scotland and the Helix Park to open opportunities which support overall wellbeing, and the creation of new social and support groups which meet in peoples’ homes and throughout the community.

Women’s Justice Team

WINNER: Excellence in Justice Services Category
With an emphasis on mental health support, trauma informed practice, and community-based support, Falkirk’s Women’s Justice Service provides gender-sensitive support to women in the criminal justice system. The team aim to open opportunities, enable positive life choices, and help extend knowledge or gain new skills to promote behaviour change and reduce re-offending. The small team are agile and focus on building a relationship with every woman who is supported by the service. This close-knit approach is key to offering support to women in the justice system who may have struggled to engage previously.

Falkirk Learning Disability Team

Nominated: Excellence in Disability Services Category
The Learning Disability Team submitted an entry based on their efforts to engage and plan services collaboratively. The team’s ‘Big Planning Sessions’ and the Falkirk Collaborative Project reviewed services, identified problems, gathered views, and agreed a way forward together with people who access support. The process enabled people who rely on the team’s support to plan for their future together and identify support which could be enhanced. The team’s new Making Choices, Keeping Safe programme is just one example of how services have already been improved – with tailored sexual health and relationship support being rolled out for people with learning disabilities and their families.