Social worker

Born: October 20, 1930;

Died: December 24, 2019.

JOYCE Minnis, who has died aged 89, after having suffered a stroke earlier in the month, was a social worker in the West of Scotland for more than 40 years, at a time when casework social work meant doggedly sticking by families over long periods, supporting them as they dealt with major challenges.

Along with Morag Faulds, she was a founder of the Paisley College (now University of the West of Scotland) Social Work course.

In that role, she influenced the careers of many of Scotland’s social workers and others who worked with families.

Among them was her own daughter Helen, who was inspired to go into child psychiatry by Joyce’s fascinating, though always carefully anonymised, stories about people pulling themselves out of difficult situations.

Joyce was a warm, quietly spoken person whose enthusiasm for not being centre of attention belied a justice-focused, courageous core.

She grew up in a Yorkshire family steeped in the social values and international perspective of the Adult School movement.

As a little girl, her home was full of fascinating people from all walks of life, from an academic and politician, Juliusz Katz-Suchy, who had fled 1930s European political pressures, and who was appointed Polish ambassador to the UN after the war, to the Dutch refugee children who came to wartime Huddersfield to be fed and housed by local families.

At Edinburgh University in the early 1950s Joyce was the president of the Cosmopolitan Club, set up to welcome overseas students.

In that role she met the charming, handsome accountancy student Edwin Minnis, a few years older than her, and on an ex-serviceman’s scholarship.

Joyce once said, “My parents didn’t expect me to be that cosmopolitan!”; for Eddie was a black man from the Bahamas and, when they married in 1956, both families and many of their friends thought they were being extremely unwise.

Joyce faced this situation and the challenges that followed with her habitual pragmatism, leaning on the support of Friends from Glasgow Quaker Meeting, where she was a beloved member for her entire adult life.

Recently, when her grand-daughter Ellie asked her why she married Eddie she said: “I loved him. Why else would you marry someone?”

Joyce and Eddie were together until Eddie died in 2012. They were much loved by their daughters, Natalie and Helen, their son-in-law Steve and grandchildren Ellie and Sam.

Joyce’s clear, calm thinking made her advice highly sought-after in both her professional and personal life. Glasgow’s Children’s Services Chief Officer, Mike Burns, described recently in a speech how Joyce had taught him the importance of gentle, respectful communication.

Both of Joyce’s grandchildren will miss her terribly. No subject was off-limits for discussion with their unshockable grandma.

Her funeral will be held tomorrow, January 10, at Glasgow Crematorium, Tresta Road, G23 5AA.

Helen and Natalie Minnis