Sandy Cameron, the new president of the Association of Directors
of Social Work, has made a career out of doing things first.
He was the first man to work as a social work student in
Glasgow’s Robroyston Hospital. Then, as his career progressed, he
was one of the first research and planning officers in social work
with the newly created Central Region.
So it is, perhaps, with no surprise that last year he became the
first social work director to be appointed by the new unitary
councils, moving to South Lanarkshire after eight years as director
in the Borders.
Cameron takes over from Dundee’s Peter Bates at a crucial point
in the association’s history. With the new authorities still
smarting from the biggest upheaval in 20 years, and what some
described as their ‘worst ever’ financial settlement, he is likely
to face a tough time over the next two years.
Still more changes are on the way with Scotland’s new Children
Act due to come into effect next year and the possibility of a
Scottish Parliament under a Labour government.
Cameron says the ADSW will have a vital task in ensuring that
politicians are fully briefed about the impact of any further cuts
in social work spending.
‘The overall financial position is not going to change
dramatically. There will continue to be a severe pressure on
authorities over the types of service they can provide and pressure
on the quality of services,’ he says.
Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the effects of
reorganisation and the future of the ADSW. ‘It is the kind of
change that no commercial organisation in its right mind would
undertake within that kind of timescale, but it has been undertaken
with remarkable success in local government,’ he says.
‘The ADSW will have an important role to play in helping the new
authorities bed in and obviously we will have a lot of new
‘We want to help them in any way we can and hope to see them
play an active part in the association.’
To this end, the ADSW has undergone some changes itself, with
more streamlined committees and an enlarged directors’ group taking
in the influx of new directors from housing as well as social work
‘We see this as a real opportunity to bring in people with new
and different experiences to add to the strengths we already have.
The future of the association is looking good,’ says Cameron.