Fife Council’s Criminal Justice Social Work Team who work with women who offend has been named as team of the year 2016 at the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) awards.
The annual awards took place in Edinburgh on World Social Work Day and recognises the dedication and achievement of social workers across Scotland.
Fife Council’s Women Who Offend Team was set-up in 2012. From the beginning the team has proactively worked with partners including housing, community learning and development, NHS and voluntary organisations such as SACRO. It also set up WINGS, a one-stop shop where women can receive a wide range of services. WINGS now offers sessions in five areas of Fife resulting in significant increases in women accessing services and taking part in activities.
The team works with women who have convictions, who have been released from prison on license, and are subject to community supervision. The team also provides Criminal Justice Social Work reports to the court and offers non-statutory interventions such as bail supervision; diversion from prosecution; voluntary post-custodial care for women released without licence, and structured deferred sentences where the risk of re-offending is low and where less intensive support can be put in place.
Bill Kinnear, criminal justice social work service manager, said: “This award is well deserved. Every day the team supports people to make a positive difference to their lives. Many of the women the team work with have experienced severe trauma in their lives as children and adults which often leads to poor mental health and reliance on alcohol and drugs, which in turn leads to offending. Although a very demanding job, it’s also very rewarding and I’m delighted all the hard work the team does has been recognised at a national level.”
Angela Simpson, team manager, added: “We’re over the moon to be named as SASW’s team of the year. I’d just like to say ‘well done’ to everyone who has played a part in our journey over the last few years. We work with women with convictions who have faced very challenging times. It’s not about doing things for the women we work with; it’s about helping them to help themselves move away from an offending lifestyle.”
One woman who has been helped by the team, said: “WINGS has changed my life. The guidance and support I received helped me get my life back on track, I don’t know where I would be now without it. The staff gave me the strength to keep going, they supported me tackling my drug addiction. I would never have managed all this on my own.”
She added: “The staff taught me to be positive and I know they are there for me as soon as I need them. Not only have they helped me to turn my life around but they have also helped me get my confidence back.”