Podcast Episode: Freshly Squeezed: Peter Macleod
Category: Freshly Squeezed
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MD - Michelle Drumm
PM - Peter MacLeod
Michelle Drumm speaks to Peter MacLeod, Peter is Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate as of 2018 and has spent over thirty years working in the public sector. He graduated from Robert Gordon University with a degree in Social Sciences and a qualification in Social Work and began a career as a social worker in Glasgow in 1987. In 1996 he joined Renfrewshire Council as an Area Manager responsible for adult, children’s and criminal justice social work and in early 2007 was appointed Head of Children’s Services and Criminal Justice for Social Work and the Community Health Partnership. In 2015, he was appointed Renfrewshire’s first Director of a new Children’s Services Directorate, bringing together children’s social work, education, and criminal justice services. He has a long held interest in research and innovation and is Chair of Iriss, he also sits on the boards of MacMillan Cancer Support and TCAT programme and Scottish Government’s Realigning Children’s Services Programme. In his own words he says, “I am ambitious for Social Care, I want people in Scotland to experience transformational World class care that makes a real and positive difference to their lives.
MD Peter, welcome to Freshly Squeezed.
PM Thank you.
MD Tell me to begin with you have great aspirations for Social Care in Scotland, did you always want to work in Social Services?
PM Yes, I did. My mother was a home carer, home help in the 60’s and 70’s in the Isle of Lewis, where I grew up. My brother went on to qualify as a Social Worker so, when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I was interested in Social Care for those reasons and chose my degree and then Social Work qualification to take that further.
MD Okay so, basically it was work experience in Social Care which inspired you to go ahead and do that?
PM Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
MD Okay, and could you just tell me more about your journey then into the profession?
PM Sure so, started of in Aberdeen in Robert Gordon’s, I started doing practice placements in alcohol rehabilitation within learning disability services and then on to hospital social work and area team social work, all of that really ,I suppose, consolidated my interest in social work and social care and convinced me that’s what I wanted to do so, when I qualified in 1987, I came to Glasgow to work in Easterhouse and then Springburn before Drumchapel and therefore got a really good grounding in Children’s Services, Justice, Adult Care and really the whole mix of social work and social care services.
MD Uh huh, okay, great. What motivates you to do what you do, Peter?
PM What motivates me after 30 years is very much the want and desire to make a difference for people who need support of whatever kind, and I’m really ambitious for social care and social work. I think social work is incredibly important because it reminds us what can be done, what needs changed sometimes in our society. So, those are my primary motivations.
MD And what does a typical day look like for you, or do you have one?
PM The typical day now involves usually quite a lot of travel because I continue to live in Glasgow although our head quarter base is in Dundee but we have bases throughout the country, offices throughout the country and also work here with Iriss too so, lot’s of work with government, where I sit on a number of national leadership groups, whether in child protection or adult social care reform and a number of other requirements that I take forward through working with my board and lot’s of contact with partners that provide services and I try and get out and see staff teams as often as possible too.
MD Uh huh, it’s good to keep in touch I guess isn’t it …
MD … with what people are doing on the ground?
MD Okay and do you have a motto for life?
PM I suppose my motto for life is: always do the best you can for others.
MD Does that come from anywhere in particular?
PM It doesn’t particularly, I think it’s just, you know, there’s lots of credos that talk about using your skills or abilities or time for the benefit of others and whether I’ve got skills or talents, I don’t know, but I think it’s just that added value that you bring where you think, hopefully, more of what you can do to help other people and that’s the journey that you’re on and I think that’s important to me. Whether it’s been doing voluntary work in other countries as I have or the different work that I’ve done here over the years, it’s just the magic of relationships between people and particularly where support is required that makes, I think, life worth living for me, professionally and personally.
MD And do you think that was something that your mum inspired you around as well, about doing your best for people in terms of what you saw as (… unclear).
PM Yeah, I think so, absolutely, the community in which I grew up still had a very cohesive, I suppose, support system within it, in the Western Isles: a small village. And typically there was a lot of care and if you like pastoral support within that community so, older people would typically get lots of visits from neighbours and people would bring in, whether it was fish, caught fresh from the sea or maybe milk from the cow, and a variety of other things like that so, I suppose watching and being caught up in that, I suppose, gave me an orientation towards care and support and hopefully helping other people.
MD Uh huh and you never thought of kind of going back that way to the Western Isles, in terms of your career?
PM I think it would have been quite difficult with my career because of the kind of things that I’ve ended up doing and it’s quite interesting because when I set off, I started as a social worker seeing that as a very political activity, not with a large ‘p’ but with a small ‘p’ and I still do in the sense of I think what social work is there to do is to enable and empower people, individuals, families, and societies towards betterment, particularly where people are affected by poverty. So, I suppose I never thought that I would end up in the kind of roles that I’ve been, being Director of Social Work just before I became Director of Children’s Services and then the different roles since then including this one, have been a genuine surprise to me, not something I’ve planned so, it’s been a real privilege to be a public servant doing those kind of jobs that I’ve been asked to take on.
MD Absolutely, great, thank you. And do you have a book or blog that you’d recommend to listeners?
PM I don’t have a book or blog, one of the books that I really like because it’s very poetic in the way that it’s written is a book called Waterlog, which is in effect a book about outdoor swimming in different …
PM … places including across the Corryvreckan Gulf which would be quite interesting to do, I suppose, quite risky, so it’s by a guy called Roger Deakin, and I recommend it simply because it’s probably got nothing to do with the kind of work that I do but because of the whole idea of the sight, smell and sounds and experiences of swimming outdoors, which I do every year, I do …
PM … a competitive event every year in Dumfries and Galloway but it’s a book that I find is incredibly meditative in the way that it’s written …
PM … I’m expressive in that way too.
MD Okay sounds like a nice book. And do you like music and do you have a music for motivation?
PM Yeah, I do like music, I like lots of different kinds of music. I went to The Royal Albert Hall earlier on this year and heard a fantastic … it was a police charity event, and just a whole amazing array of classical pieces being played in that amazing space but then the following day I went to a Jazz Club in South London, and had a completely different musical experience, my son and I, but it was equally and if anything just different but wonderful too and I suppose the other thing that I really like is, I like bird song.
MD Bird song?
PM Yeah, yeah.
MD Right, okay.
PM So, I like going and being outdoors and walking and things like so, bird song: like a skylark singing high up in the sky does remind me of summers in Lewis on the moor, so things like that are really quite redolent for me so, I like bird song too.
MD You can get apps for that too, I think.
PM You can, yeah.
PM Yeah, absolutely.
MD Lovely, thanks Peter. And who or what are your inspirations in your career?
PM I suppose the inspirations in my career are the people that I meet every day that make a difference to others lives, those are the people that inspire me and I think people that face adversity but still keep going and sometimes also keep giving to others is truly remarkable and I was fortunate enough to work in Tanzania, only for a few days volunteering but just meeting some of the young people that were both supported and also those that were caring for them was really inspirational to me.
MD Quite humbling, I’d imagine too …
MD … that kind of work?
PM Absolutely, but some remarkable young people just coming into contact …
PM … with them, yeah.
MD Fantastic, okay. And what one piece of advice would you give to those working or considering working in social services?
PM I think my advice would be, it’s an incredible part of your life’s journey and if you can make a bit of a difference one day or more then make the choice to come into social care cos it really is life changing work and that would be my advice and also if you’re doing it, it’s all consuming, so remember that balance between your family life, whatever that might look like and the support and work that you are engaged in with or for others.
MD And if you were castaway on a desert island, what’s the one thing that you couldn’t live without?
PM Just my family, my family are very precious to me so, I think though because we’re very active and we do lots of … yeah, adventurous things whether climbing mountains or you know, just different things that we do …
MD Do you do that as a family?
PM Yeah we do, we do lots of kind of pretty out there things. I’ve just finished the Kiltwalk, actually, I did 14 miles from …
MD Oh good.
PM … Musselburgh yesterday so, I’m a bit footsore and that was with my son, Callum, and our dog, Pip, did it as well so, he got a medal at the end which we were quite pleased about.
MD Oh fantastic.
MD I didn’t know dogs got medals for doing it.
PM Absolutely, I don’t think they were meant to but we asked for one and got one. So, I suppose it would be my family but I mention all the outdoor things because I suspect if we were castaway, we would be castaway together cos we do lots of things together.
MD Okay, family it is.
MD And Peter, you’ll know that this podcast is called Freshly Squeezed and at the end of my interviews with all my interviewees, I ask you one question: how do you like your juice, do you like it smooth or with juicy bits?
PM I think it would depend on the occasion.
MD So, depending on?
PM Depending on whether it’s maybe early morning I might go for the juicy bits maybe absolutely freshly processed and if it’s in the evening maybe something a little bit smoother.
MD So a bit of both.
PM A bit of both.
MD But today I’ll give you juicy bits considering we’re morning interview so …
MD Juicy bits.
PM Thank you so much, yeah thanks.
MD Okay Peter, you’ve been Freshly Squeezed today, thanks so much for your time.
PM Thanks, thanks Michelle, thank you.
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