Important lessons in lots of different ways during a whirlwind week

On behalf or the Council, can I pass on a huge thank you to everyone who took part in Sleep in the Park or who supported the cause with generous donations.

Thousands took part across Scotland and it was a really great experience to join the Aberdeen event at Duthie Park along with colleagues and elected members.

One night out in the elements can never replicate the harsh reality faced day in and day out by those affected by homelessness and sleeping rough – but everyone who took part has helped to raise the profile of the issue and, crucially, millions of pounds to support Social Bite’s work. As an organisation we’ll continue to work with partners, including the third sector, to help reduce homelessness.

Sleep in the Park in Aberdeen had a real community feel, with Derek McInnes making a special appearance for the bedtime story. It was a difficult week for all associated with the Dons, with the disappointment of the cup final defeat still raw, but that was put to one side as the club threw its weight behind the sleep out with genuine and heartfelt support from Derek. As he is the first to acknowledge, there are always issues that help put any personal or professional disappointment into perspective and homelessness is certainly one of those.

In the same week the club and players were out in force to support the Cash for Kids appeal and Mission Christmas, with Dons supporters adding to the donations being made across the city

That type of civic leadership from the club is a great example of the attitude that will help ensure a bright future for the city. The Council and public sector partners play a leading role in that but we’re very fortunate to have so many proactive and supportive organisations willing and able to join that collaborative approach.

Sleep in the Park was the culmination of a really positive and thought provoking week for me and colleagues from many different services.

I was delighted to join our tenant group’s Christmas party on Tuesday – there aren’t many Council meetings that end up with the room joining in the Grand Old Duke of York!

It was fantastic fun and a real joy to celebrate the work of a group which is doing so much to represent the views and needs of the Council’s tenants, winning national recognition year after year with too many awards to list. Staff and tenants share a real passion for making things better for all and as a Council we’re reaping the benefits of that enthusiasm.

From singing and dancing, the next stop was a cooking lesson courtesy of a looked after children’s board meeting. The underlying message was about our role as corporate parents and the importance of life skills for the young people under our wing. It’s so easy to take for granted, but for young people these lessons can have a real lasting impact in terms of a happy and healthy journey into adulthood.

On Friday I attended an event with a focus on the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, where we heard from three former care experienced young people. The emphasis was on the role we play in telling young people their life story and how we can improve in this area. There is so much we can learn and do better simply by listening to those who understand the subject best, it really is inspiring to have that direct input.

A week of contrast for me, but every experience was a positive one and the cause of great optimism for future.