A member of staff at a Scottish residential children’s home has won a prestigious national award after being nominated by one of the young people she supports for going above and beyond to improve their experience of residential care.
Caitlyn Ross, who works at an Aberlour Child Care Trust residential home in Fife, was selected as the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC) Residential Superstar of the Year at last night’s awards (Tuesday 4th June), which took place at the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow. The wider team was also awarded runner up in the Top Team category for the second year in a row.
Caitlyn was nominated for the award by 15-year-old Samantha, who moved into one of Aberlour’s residential children’s homes last year.
“I haven’t lived with my mum since I was nine years old. She is blind and couldn’t look after me properly. I then went to live with my Aunt, but we didn’t get on at all. When I first met Caitlyn, I was scared to like her or get attached because everyone I have ever liked in my life has left me. But, she never gave up on me. I now call her my silent cheerleader; she is the person who I know is always rooting for me to succeed and has my best interests at heart.”
Over the past year Caitlyn has helped Samantha settle into her new home and get her education back on track. When she was 13-years-old, Samantha was asked to leave school and after that, she only saw a teacher for two hours a day in a social work office. When she first moved into care, Caitlyn took her to the Aberlour Sycamore Nurture Hub and within a couple of months, she was back in High School. She has now passed her National 4 exams, is working towards her National 5 qualifications and has a conditional offer to college to study English, maths and psychology.
“I feel very humbled to receive this award and I am just so incredibly proud of how far Samantha has come. It is nice to know that Samantha recognises that I only do what is best for her, even if it is giving her more motivation to go off to school on a Monday morning!”
“Everyone at Aberlour is motivated by the same thing, to show young people like Samantha that they can be successful and to give them the tools they need to have the best possible start in life. Samantha always says that I just come here because it is my job, and she is right, it is my job. But the reason we come back day in and day out is because we want to be here for the young people we look after, we want to make a difference in their lives.
“Young people living in residential care deserve to be happy, they deserve to be loved. Sometimes they just need someone to believe in them. I often say that a young person is just one caring adult away from a success story!”
The SIRCC Residential Child Care Awards celebrate the best practice and the outstanding teamwork of those working in residential child care across Scotland. Now in its 10th year, the awards are part of the SIRCC Conference (4th to 5th June), with guest speakers including Professor Jim Anglin, Emeritus Professor and former Director of the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, and Louise Wallwein, award-winning poet, playwright and performer.