CrossReach carers recognised for outstanding service

CrossReach 2015
Ian Manson Awards for Excellence winners with CrossReach staff: (from left) Margaret Cassidy, Vera Lumsden, Carol Brackenridge, Ashley Reed.

Flower displays and beaming smiles lit up the iconic General Assembly building as CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, held its annual Service of Celebration.

One of the largest providers of social care in the country, CrossReach operates at more than 70 locations serving everyone from older people, children and families to people struggling with substance abuse, disabilities and homelessness.

The Service of Celebration recognises staff members for long service and for achieving qualifications as well as honouring exceptional employees and volunteers.

More than 110 CrossReach employees gained qualifications last year, including Scottish Vocational Qualifications, Professional Development Awards, Higher National Certificates and even a Bachelor of Sciences. Peter Bailey, who's Chief Executive of CrossReach, said he appreciates the time and effort staff commit to studying, and the recent survey of those whom they care for shows their skills bring real life results.

"More than 96 percent of service users agree that their quality of life is better because of the services they receive," he said. "And 98 percent of service users agree they feel supported and well cared for."

Guest speaker Andy Lowndes spoke about the charity Playlist for Life, which partnered with CrossReach last year. A nurse, dementia expert and lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, Lowndes is deputy chair of Playlist for Life.

The charity uses the music that matters most to people, to help those with memory problems communicate with carers and loved ones.
"I really do believe that if personal, meaningful music was made available to everyone with dementia it could revolutionize dementia care in this country," he said.

Playlist for Life and CrossReach plan to expand their partnership to five more service areas this year.

Dr Sally Bonnar, Convener for Social Care said 28 staff members have now achieved 20 years of service; five have been with CrossReach for 30 years; and one –Margaret Cassidy – has been with CrossReach for 40 years.

"That 750 years represents a great deal of confidence, wellbeing, continuity and security for service users," she said. "We're very grateful."

Andy Lowndes presented the Ian Manson Awards for Excellence named in memory of CrossReach's well-loved former Director of Social Work.

Adult Learner of the Year is Ashley Reid, a senior care worker at The Elms Care Home in Edinburgh. "I came into this work with no experience," she said. "Through training I managed to progress to senior care worker. CrossReach is a good organisation to work for. Being nominated is an absolute shock."

The Award for Excellence went to Carol Brackenridge, employee development officer for CrossReach Adult Services. Carol works on staff and volunteer training and is trained as an "Outcome Star." Carol credited the whole team for her award saying the support of service managers and staff is the key to her success.

Volunteer of the Year for 2015 is Vera Lumsden, a volunteer counsellor with CrossReach Counselling Moray. Vera studied new techniques at her own expense gaining the confidence of the GP and clients.

Employee of the Year for 2015 was presented to Margaret Cassidy, Manager of the South Beach House in Ardrossan. Margaret came to CrossReach 40 years ago, aged 20 as a housekeeping assistant. At first she was put off by the size of the house and all the older people in it, she said, but she soon grew to love her work.

"I don't know where the 40 years have gone," she said. "I love my job. I've got a dedicated staff and that's what makes South Beach House as good as it is. I coudn't do my job without my staff."
Rt Rev Angus Morrison wound up the event, saying he was happy it was the first of his term as Moderator.

"I've come to hold the work of CrossReach in the highest regard," he said. "Loving service to others marked the ministry of Jesus from start to finish. CrossReach representatives, before all, demonstrate genuine Christian love and action in our Lord's name."

See videos of all the Ian Manson award winners:

Read more on the CrossReach website.

View more photos on the CrossReach Facebook page.

Find out more about Playlist for Life.