Expert judges will choose Society winners

ENTRIES are flooding in for the annual Herald Society Awards with an expert panel of judges preparing to choose the most outstanding and innovative achievers in the public and voluntary sector.

A consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who led a service for vulnerable pregnant women, and a leading social worker who wrote a damning report on child sex abuse in an English town, are among those who have the difficult task of choosing this year’s winners.

Last year’s success stories included Kelvin Valley Honey, which won the Environmental Project of the Year award while Who Cares? Scotland and Aberlour Scotland won campaign of the year by persuading the Government to improve support for children in care.

Dr Mary Hepburn OBE, the driving force behind Glasgow’s Special Needs in Pregnancy Service, who retired from practice last year is returning to judge for a third year. The competition is always fierce and to help select the very best contenders. She will be joined by Alexis Jay, one of Scotland’s foremost social workers who wrote a report which criticised the authorities over child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Andrew Horne, Scottish director of drug and alcohol dependency charity Addaction, which recently announced a renewed commitment to separate operations in Scotland, is another returning judge.

Bringing expertise from Police Scotland and much more Karyn McCluskey is best known as director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. With Education at the fore of public policy in recent weeks, Brian Boyd, emeritus professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde will bring his experience of this and other issues to the judging process, while Foster Evans, former director of Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) is director of Senscot Legal, and a trustee of Partick Thistle’s charitable trust.

Herald social affairs correspondent Stephen Naysmith will chair the judging session, during which our experts will choose the best entries in 12 categories, including education project, health project and unsung hero of the year.

One of the most significant awards of the is the Health and Social Care Integration Award, sponsored by Social Work Scotland (SWS). Efforts are going on all over the country to address this key government priority but we are looking for entries highlighting the most creative and successful examples.

Jane Devine, SWS business manager, said: “There has been a huge build up to the integration of health and social care services. It has been a long process, with the real test coming in April 2016, when the integration schemes become operational. Supporting this category of the awards helps us to show support to the sector as we work to implement these huge changes.”

EVH – Supporting Social Employers provides employer services to not for profit organisations countrywide, and is sponsoring the Unsung Hero award category. Director Eamonn Connolly said “our work takes us to communities large and small where heroic local volunteers take on huge challenges in order to make differences to the lives of local people. We have a number of internal award schemes, but we cannot match the reach of The Herald Society Awards. This is why we are delighted to again be involved in order that these inspirational people get the wider recognition they so richly deserve.”

Meanwhile Karen McGregor, chief executive of Firstport, which provide free business back-up for new social enterprises, said: “These awards give us a great opportunity to identify those motivated, can-do individuals who are tackling social problems and making a difference to Scottish communities.”

Our newest category, the Herald Society Legacy 2014 award, is designed to recognise the remarkable impact of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said: “As soon as Glasgow secured the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the work started to ensure the Games left a lasting legacy.

“Creating that lasting legacy is not possible without the hard work and dedication of people and organisations. The Herald Society Legacy 2014 award is all about recognising those efforts, and honouring the people who are going the extra mile.”

Other sponsors include Glasgow Caledonian University, which is supporting the Older People’s Project of the Year award. Vincent McKay, Dean of the School of Health and Life Sciences said: “GCU’s Healthy Ageing research programme is focused on promoting positive ageing, managing age-related conditions and syndromes, and improving health and social care. I look forward to seeing entries from those who have gone the extra mile to make a positive difference to Scotland’s older generation.”

Finally, YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youthwork supports the Young Person’s Project of the Year. CEO Jim Sweeney said: “YouthLink Scotland’s vision is of a nation which values its young people and their contribution to society, where young people are supported to achieve their potential.”