Ailsa is Social Worker of the Year


Ailsa Rainnie, a Social Worker with The Highland Council’s Family Team in Fort William, has been named Social Worker of the Year by the Scottish Association of Social Work.

Ailsa was put forward by Jo Jarvis-Jones, Practice Lead in the Fort William team who, in her nomination wrote: “Ailsa is a newly qualified social worker who is quite simply a 'breath of fresh air' to her colleagues in the office and the service users that she engages with. Her approach to young people is inclusive. Her attitude to clients is clear yet non-judgmental. She is enthusiastic and always one of the first to come forward when there is a need for people in the team to step up to the mark. She is supportive of colleagues and goes out of her way to do little things for people that really make a difference. Her work is always to a good standard and done within timescales. She presents with real skill when it comes to having difficult conversations with individuals and really seems to understand the need for families to find their own solutions. Ailsa is reflective in her work and always open to different ways of doing things. She is creative and keen to test out new ways of doing things that engage young people.”

After hearing of Ailsa’s success, Jo said: “We are so proud of Ailsa, this award is thoroughly deserved. It is a real boost for the team and something that Ailsa herself should be very proud of.”

Ailsa, who attended the award ceremony in Edinburgh, said:  “I am overwhelmed about receiving this award.  It was an honour to be nominated then to find out I had been short listed was a huge shock.  I can’t thank the Fort William Team enough for continuing to help me learn and develop as a social worker.  I am lucky enough that I look forward to coming to work each day and working with inspiring young people and colleagues.  I was stunned to receive the award and grateful that my inspirational mum and colleagues Betty Collings and Jo Jarvis- Jones were there to support me.”

Bill Alexander, The Highland Council’s Director of Care and Learning applauded Ailsa on her success.  He said:  “On behalf of everyone at Highland Council I would like to congratulate Ailsa as this is a tremendous award to receive. As well as reflecting the very high esteem she is held in by her colleagues, it is heartening to hear the young people she supports give such glowing praise for the positive effect she is having on their lives. This makes her a very worthy winner of this prestigious award and we thank her for all her excellent work.”

One of the young people Ailsa works with in Lochaber said:  “After hearing a lot of horror stories from friends about their social workers, I was apprehensive to meet Ailsa. When I met her the first time I liked her straight away. She seemed down-to-earth, easy to talk to and very enthusiastic. The next few meetings with her further confirmed my first impression. However as more and more happened in my life I turned to Ailsa for help and support – and I realised her qualities as a social worker, and a person, went so far beyond just friendly and understanding. Yes, she fulfils her duties as any other social worker does but she has gone above and beyond that at every point I needed throughout the entire time I’ve had her as my social worker. She is a fantastic listener and her real effort and dedication to her work is astounding. She made the unfamiliar process of meetings and events in my own life entirely less daunting – all whilst it was still new to her too. This shows how much skill she really does have as a social worker. 

She added: “Ailsa is the perfect balance of professional and fun.  Ailsa is an inspiration and if you go to her with any problem she will make you laugh, make you feel better about yourself and make you feel like you can cope. She is an amazing support. She’s incredibly reassuring and fun to be around. The Fort William social work department are very lucky to have such a great worker and woman to work with them. I haven’t thanked her properly for all of her support but she should know how grateful I am and just how highly I think of her."

Another Highland award winner is Diana Morrow, a Social Worker with the NHS Highland Easter Ross Community Mental Health Team who received a Special Award for Recognition by Users of Services.

NHS Highland’s director of adult social care Joanna MacDonald said: “On behalf of NHS Highland I would like to congratulate Diana on her award and thank her for her hard work.

“Diana is a shining example of everything that a social worker should aspire to be. She is friendly, approachable, compassionate and dedicated to the people she works with. Diane always treats people with dignity and respect and she is held in very high regard by colleagues and service users.

“I am delighted that Diana has been recognised for her contribution to social work and the wider Easter Ross community.”

One service user said: “Every time we meet up she has been very polite, respectful of how I feel, supports me to make realistic goals and encourages me to meet them. I believe we need thousands more like her.” 


23 Mar 2017
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