A mixture of information sharing and debate, we will have speakers covering:

The Promise - Jackie Brock, Interim Chief Operations Officer, The Promise

The National Care Service - Colin Slasberg, CQSW, Independent Researcher and Consultant in Social Care  & Nick Kemp

Justice Services -  James Maybee, Chair of the SWS justice standing committee and Principal Officer (Criminal Justice in The Highland Council)

Plus an input from Joanna Macdonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Officer covering the Office of the Chief Social Work Advisor (OCSWA) and social work.


Colin Slasberg  qualified in the 1970’s and had a career as practitioner, operational and strategic manager in both children’s and adults services. For the past ten years has worked independently with a focus on the need for transformation in adult services. In addition to working with a rage of organisations, Colin has had articles published in peer reviewed journals.

Nick Kempe trained as a social worker at Edinburgh and started work in a generic team in Coatbridge. When Strathclyde was broken up he moved to Glasgow and, having said he would like to work with anyone but older people, was sent to work in a hospital geriatric unit. From there Nick moved into management, in the mistaken belief he could maybe improve things, and developed a particular expertise in commissioning across all care groups.  By the time he decided to stop work, almost everything he and the people he worked with had ever done, whether good or bad in retrospect, was unravelling. The problem, Nick realised, was the system and there appeared no opportunity for change. The Covid pandemic has provided an opportunity. Horrified at the numbers dying in Care Homes – an area on which Nick had worked for years – he wrote “The Predictable Crisis”.  After that he helped set up Common Weal’s Care Reform Group which he now convene and has been thinking, writing and giving talks about the problems in the care system and the need for fundamental reform in Scotland ever since.

James Maybee - With an academic background in History & Politics and Social Sciences, James worked as a probation officer in several areas in England, before working as a criminal justice social worker in Scotland.  As the Pathfinder Implementation Manager, he was responsible for developing the effective practice agenda across the north in the early 2000s and in his current role as Principal Officer is responsible for the operational delivery and strategic development of criminal justice social work services in Highland.  He has represented Social Work Scotland’s Criminal Justice Standing Committee on many occasions, including on the Scottish Government’s Electronic Monitoring Working Group, which published its final report in October 2016, and giving evidence to Holyrood’s Justice Committee, for example on the presumption against short-term sentences. Since January 2019 he has chaired the committee and has played a lead role in the justice social work response to the coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding recovery, renewal and transformation of justice.

Joanna Macdonald started her career in 1991 as a social care assistant in a care home before qualifying as a social worker and beginning a career across health and social care working in Aberdeenshire, Highland and Argyll & Bute before her current post as Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor. Between 2015 and 2021, Joanna was chair of Social Work Scotland’s Adult Social Care Committee working with colleagues across Scotland to collectively promote the value of adult social care and generate broader understanding of the social worker role. As Director of Social Care in Highland’s Lead Agency model of integration (2014-2018) and Chief Officer in a Corporate Body model of integration in Argyll & Bute (2018 – 2021) Joanna brings a breadth of experience, knowledge and understanding of the complex environment within which social work as a profession has evolved and currently works. Joanna’s portfolio covers Children & Families and she is closely involved in the implementation of the new National Child Protection Guidance, Age of Criminal Responsibility, Siblings Guidance and current GIRFEC refresh in addition to the National Care Service consultation and planning. Joanna welcomes direct contact from social work colleagues and can be contacted at Joanna.macdonald@gov.scot