Redress Scotland Voices – Meet our CEO, Joanna McCreadie

Meet our CEO

Joanna McCreadie is the chief executive of Redress Scotland. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her career as a social worker and a strategic leader, as well as compassion, respect, and a commitment to working in a trauma-informed way with survivors and their loved ones.

We sat down with Joanna to hear about the first year at Redress Scotland, and her team’s “shared endeavour” with survivors, their families, and campaigners on their journey to healing. She also updates us on how Redress Scotland is working with the Scottish government to understand feedback and evolve processes to ensure survivors get the best possible experience.

Hello Joanna. Tell us what it has been like to lead the work of Redress Scotland?

It’s been very rewarding, but not without its challenges. Developing a new public body from scratch that covers a very new area of work has been a busy and complex process, but it is work that everyone at Redress Scotland cares deeply about. From recruiting staff to training panel members; establishing and strengthening links with partners to launching the organisation itself, we have done a lot in a relatively short period of time.

The hard work is paying off as we have been able to make 340 decisions on applications for redress so far. Our Facts and Figures report will provide regular information on what we are doing and this is being published on our website.

Was this what you expected coming into a brand new organisation?

On reflection I think yes. I was prepared for a challenge – especially as we neared the end of the Covid-19 restrictions but continued to work from home – but the challenge is a big part of why I took on the role.

In our first year, we had a lot of things to work out and ideas to try for the first time, which you take for granted coming into established organisations where everything’s been done at least once before. As well as the day-to-day challenges, we are continuing to work with new legislation and guidance, something we have sought support on to ensure we get the approach right from the offset.

Our team tries to take everything in their stride, and we are very pragmatic about what needs to be done to ensure survivors and their families receive the best experience possible when applying to the scheme. We set out to create an organisation with strong values and a culture that puts survivors first, acknowledging their experiences in a compassionate and respectful way, and supports them and their families to seek redress.

What does a typical day in the life entail?

In short, there isn’t one. To this day I haven’t had two days that are the same or even similar. Whether I’m meeting with the Redress Scotland chair, staff, panel members or other stakeholders, my days are always focused on working to develop the organisation and improve the experience for applicants. Redress can’t change the experiences of a survivor, but it is my job to ensure that Redress Scotland acknowledges the harm that survivors have suffered.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

The biggest reward is to hear from survivors who have applied for redress, received an offer, feel they have been respected and heard, and feel the award recognises what happened to them. I know we can’t change the past but hearing that we have helped change what is happening for people now and in the future is incredibly rewarding.

I also benefit from talking to survivors and panel members to hear their perspectives on the scheme. Of course it’s good to hear positive things, but it has been especially helpful to get critical feedback as this has helped us to make improvements and changes.

How many completed applications has Redress Scotland received, and how have you ensured that survivors are treated well, with dignity, respect and compassion?

By the end of December we had received 393 applications for redress. Of these we have made 308 decisions and almost all the decisions have been to award redress to the applicants.

To make sure applicants are treated with dignity, respect, and compassion, every completed application is reviewed and assessed thoroughly by our panel members. The review is completed before the panel meets to discuss the application and make a decision about redress. This process ensures that all parts of the application are fully considered.

After making a decision, the panel writes to the applicant to share their decision and reasoning. We hope the direct and detailed communication from the panel helps survivors feel there is compassion for their experience and that they have been treated with respect.

Over the last while, we have been introduced to some of the Redress Scotland panel members. What’s involved in the panel process and what’s your role as CEO in that?

After panel members are appointed by Scottish Ministers, Redress Scotland Chair Johnny Gwynne and I make sure they receive high quality training and perform well in their roles. The training includes practice-based work using case studies to build the panel member’s understanding and skills.

As Chief Executive, I provide ongoing support to panel members in their role as independent decision makers, and make sure that our work is fair and transparent. The Redress For Survivors (Historical Child Abuse In Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 and the statutory guidance underpin all of our work.

What does the year ahead hold for Redress Scotland?

The year ahead will see us continue to develop and evolve to be as effective as possible – offering a critical service for survivors and their families that treats them with the compassion, dignity, and respect they deserve. Our approach is based in honesty and clarity, so we will continue to have clear and transparent communication around our development and improvements.

We will continue to listen carefully to feedback from applicants and panellists, and I am excited about working more closely with the Survivor Forum in the year ahead, and of course our Scottish government partners. We are planning increased communication with stakeholders. We will also publish our first annual report later this year, for which work is already underway.

If there’s one thing you would wish for survivors to know about you, what would that be?

My main interest is in running Redress Scotland as well as I can, so that every decision fully considers the individual and what happened to them. Although I will never meet most of the people that apply, I always work with survivors in mind.

What qualities – both personal and professional – do you bring to Redress Scotland?

Personally I am enthusiastic and determined to see things through to completion. If something takes time, I give it the time!

Professionally I am open minded, I listen to people, enjoy working with them, and I am prepared to change and innovate. I strive for high standards, and I’m prepared for a challenge and to be challenged. Importantly, I also have a lot of experience working with people affected by trauma and I bring that knowledge and experience to this role.

What are your interests outside of work?

I love music and one of my main interests is listening to new music and going to gigs. I also have a new dog that needs a lot of walks (and training!). I have two children who are both very creative and I really enjoy supporting whatever they are doing.