Council employees have STARS in their eyes

Published Wednesday, 6th December 2017

Stars Logo

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council celebrated the outstanding work of employees and teams at the annual STARS Awards, held at the Cliffs Pavilion on Friday 10 November.

The STARS Awards, which is 100% sponsored, look to recognise the hard work of teams and individuals at the Council who have gone above and beyond to help make Southend-on-Sea a great place to be.

Categories vary from Employee of the Year to the Engaging Leadership award, with nominations being submitted by colleagues, business partners, Councillors and members of the public. The winners are then chosen by a judging panel.

The council offers a huge thank you to all the businesses that sponsor the event and distribute the awards to the winning nominee.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Chief Executive, Alison Griffin, said: “After only being at the council for a short period of time, I have already met so many amazing colleagues who really care about the town and the people who live here. Although there can only be a few award winners, all the staff are winners to me.

“I am a firm believer that hard work should be recognised, and I was absolutely thrilled to be part of the STARS for the first time. I would like to congratulate all the winners and those who were nominated.”

Cllr John Lamb, Leader of the Council, said: “Over the past decade or so, it is clear to see the difference council employees are making, day in, day out. As a local authority, we push ourselves continuously to maintain the high standards that are set year after year.

“It is fantastic to see so many colleagues nominated for their hard work and dedication, and I can’t speak highly enough of the way they carry themselves, representing not only the council, but Southend as a whole, as a place where hard work does get recognised.”

In addition to the awards, in the region of £500 was also raised for the Mayors charities – Breast and Prostate Cancer Care for Southend Hospital.

Meet our STARS:

Safe Winner – Neil Pointer – Sponsored by Marston Holdings Limited

For a number of years Neil has been the 'go to person' for historical knowledge of the site and when there is an emergency, it is amazing how quickly he responds with sound practical advice, often getting his hands dirty to limit the impact on the service and customers.  The Tickfield Centre and out of hours CCTV team would have closed on a number of occasions if it wasn't for Neil’s quick thinking and willing to go way over above and beyond, for example recently we had a failed water main in the building that was flooding the building.  Neil to the rescue!

Clean Winner – Sue Todd – Sponsored by Veolia

Sue puts her heart and soul into the Sparkle project and has truly flourished in this new role. In addition to the project, objectives being exceeded and making some difficult areas literally sparkle, Sue was also instrumental is organising the 250+ volunteers that registered for the Poppies Wave Exhibition working long hours to deliver for the Town at a time when all hands were needed.

Healthy Winner – Richard Layzell – Sponsored by Newlyn PLC

'The production and sale of counterfeit cigarettes is linked to large-scale organised crime, diverting billions of pounds in unpaid duty away from public services such as the NHS, and often into the pockets of crime bosses. Supported by funding from public heath, Richard gathered intelligence using test purchasers. He then sourced specially trained sniffer dogs to carry out raids in partnership with other agencies to hunt for the illegally imported cigarettes and tobacco. It is well known that smoking poses a serious danger to health, but illicit tobacco takes this to a new level because it is manufactured illegally with little regard to what is put inside it. We have previously found counterfeit cigarettes containing asbestos and human excrement and removing these dangerous products from the public domain is of vital importance. Since the project began Richard has seized almost 30,000 cigarettes and 18kg of tobacco both protecting the public and disrupting criminal activity.

Prosperous Winner – George Harrison – Sponsored by Reed

George is an excellent example of partnership working. He has been the vital link between the Early Years team and the data team for the implementation of the 30 hours free entitlement for working parents, the 2 year old funding and universal funding. He also supports the early year’s providers to complete their early years census and claim funding for the children attending their setting. He is unfailingly supportive, helpful, polite and patient with all members of the team, always happy to help. George has supported childcare providers in the PVI sector and childminders with their queries with patience and diligence, often in trying circumstances.

Excellent Winner – Kamil Pachalko – Sponsored by Vertas

Clients have said:  Kamil has been such a great help to myself and my husband. He was very kind and considerate, and very prompt with a care package, which has helped me so much with coping. I feel he is thoroughly deserving of an award. Kamil handled my mother's case in a very professional manor, his commitment and communication skills are first class. What did standout more than anything was Kamil's sense of caring which really helped during a difficult stage.

Engaging Leadership Winner – Gemma Czerwinke – Sponsored by 31ten

Gemma took over the hospital team at a very difficult time when the manager was off work for some time. She provided them with amazing support and leadership. Gemma has listened, followed through with our requests for support and our needs, supported with progressing education and encouraged us to progress.  It was difficult for her to take over a team in such difficult circumstances and she has worked very hard to gain the team's trust and to work with them to find solutions to make the work place a better environment and a stronger team together in such a short space of time.

Resilience & Growth Winner- Jessica Byford, Laura Llewellyn & Richard Warren – Sponsored by Formara Print

As a trio Jessica, Laura and Richard have worked tirelessly to support each other and the rest of the team to deal with a variety of very complex projects. In carrying out these projects it is often the case that problems are uncovered that must be resolved quickly. Each have demonstrated their resilience in finding solutions to problems, often working late into the night and also at the weekend and then continuing to progress their work to ensure our customers and colleagues are satisfied. Their commitment to get the work done on top of their standard workload and to continue delivering the quality of service that they do is a great demonstration of their immense resilience to keep driving forward and not be held back.

Focused Performance Winner – Yvonne Adams – Sponsored by Marston Holdings Limited

In early 2017 Yvonne supported a project to achieve significant savings of £320,000 across the former SP portfolio. Despite her existing, significant workload she worked in partnership across procurement, Integrated Commissioning, operational areas and with vulnerable service users to achieve this, demonstrating many of our corporate values in the process.

Values Winner – Richard Whitehead – Sponsored by Potton Kare Services

Richard is one of those people who sits under the radar of what the public see but his contribution to the smooth running of the applications within IT that allows the council to deliver its services to the public should not be underestimated.

His knowledge is vast across all elements of IT and is often the ‘go to’ person for IT staff. However busy he is, he will always take the time out to help and advise and to find a quick resolution to a problem. This helpful & friendly demeanour is valued by his colleagues and ensures the smooth running of the applications that he manages.

Customer Service – Customer Facing Winner – Wayne Bennett – Sponsored by Telematics

Wayne has a consistently helpful manner in resolving queries and issues with housing benefit claims and rent account issues faced by South Essex Homes tenants, particularly tenants that are based in the homeless hostels. Without his constant help and assistance, many of our tenants would have been evicted due to rent arrears caused by misunderstanding forms or not providing the correct information. Wayne is always bright and friendly and willing to help, even when he is dealing with major system errors and annual rent increases, he is always able to explain problems in a way that can be understood by tenants and staff at all levels without making people feel stupid for not understanding the process. He always gets back to you on a query and never passes the buck to someone else, even when he is under immense pressure.

Customer Service – Support Winner – Christine Allen – Sponsored by CityFibre

Chris is the backbone of the service; the work that she does enables the rest of the team to deliver an excellent customer facing service. She has an exemplary attendance record and is truly an ‘unsung hero’; Chris isn’t involved directly in projects but her support has enabled us to deliver Poppies: Wave and refurbishments at two branch libraries in the last 9 months as she orders furniture and equipment and ensures that everything arrives on time for us to deliver a service. Chris is highly self-motivated, efficient, conscientious and all of those things which make a model employee.

Team of the Year Winner – Focal Point Gallery Team – Sponsored by Vertas

This year has been an amazing period for Focal Point for many reasons and the results are only possible because of an excellent team approach. Some highlights include securing over half million pounds Arts Council Funding towards new artist studios project in Westcliff, delivering on a countywide cultural tourism project exceeding its targets, gaining yet more international recognition for the contemporary art space in Southend,  being the only non-London gallery chosen to exhibit at the capital's Frieze Art Fair (where over £7,000 of sales were made for the gallery), supporting the Alternative City of Culture Programme and curating the brand new space on the seafront "Twenty One" project.  All this in addition to the superb gallery offer at the Forum, which this year has seen international and Turner prize nominated artists putting on great new shows. Years don't seem to get much better than this!

Valuing Diversity Winner – Aimee Fossett – Sponsored by London Southend Airport

Nominated by a local couple, they said: “Aimee was assigned as our social worker mid-way through our adoption journey. We are a same sex married couple, we face hurdles and daily judgements as part of our usual routine so it’s refreshing on the rare occasions we meet someone who treats us just like everyone else.  Aimee has been consistent and direct since she began working with us, her dedication and support through our matching process deserves recognition. Aimee was without doubt, always there for us. We never felt that being a same sex couple even registered as a factor worthy of judgement and that value is something we will always be grateful for.”

Apprentice of the Year Winner – Anthony Smyth – Sponsored by Newlyn PLC

Anthony has no communications background but has taken to the profession like a duck to water, and undoubtedly has a real future in the communications and the local government sector. Anthony delivered a highly successful social media schedule and campaign for the Poppies: Wave exhibition that supported this major project, gaining thousands of impressions, shares and views. Anthony immersed himself in the details of the project and the history of the Garrison site. This enabled Anthony to talk with confidence and credibility about the project when attending events and dealing with members of the public on social media.

Employee of the Year Winner – Caroline McCarron – Sponsored by Reed

Caroline has been tireless in working with the hospital, primary care, social care, providers and the voluntary sector to ensure that the service was set up to go live on the 9th January of the Complex Care Service. We cannot under estimate the work that has been involved in recruiting Complex Care Navigators, Complex Care Co-ordinators, Pharmacist, Mental Health workers, Clinical Leads. This has personally meant Caroline has visited 51 GP Practices to engage them. This is to offer, older frail people with the support, advice and crisis support when needed to be able to manage their condition and feel supported enough to free up GP time and avoid non elective hospital admission.

The Mayors Award Winner – Poppies Team – Sponsored by Veolia

2017 saw the unique opportunity of welcoming a nationally significant art installation to the borough. Southend was the only South East location for the installation for the touring poppies mirroring the accolade with UK City of Culture, Hull who took the weeping Window whilst we hosted the Wave which is part of 14/18 NOW's tour taking thousands of hand-crafted poppies to selected locations for display. 

Visit our Flickr for images of some of the award winners.