Council’s shining stars celebrated

Published Monday, 24th November 2014

Council staff who regularly go the extra mile have been honoured at a special ceremony at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre.

Council staff who regularly go the extra mile have been honoured at a special ceremony at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre.

A number of staff received accolades at the Council’s annual STARS awards which celebrate the authority’s unsung heroes and heroines.

The teams and individuals hailed at the 100 per cent sponsorship-funded ceremony were chosen from more than 400 nominations received from the public, business partners, Councillors and colleagues.

Chief Executive, Rob Tinlin, said: “Our STARS awards celebrate the best of what we can achieve as an organisation, as individuals and as part of successful teams.  Every staff member nominated has gone that extra mile to help the people of Southend and to deliver our goal in creating a better Southend.

“We are recognised as an authority which delivers consistently high quality services, often in quite innovative ways, in the face of huge challenges such as increasing demand and reducing resources. This is down mainly to the excellence of our staff and their commitment to the community.

Cllr Ron Woodley, Leader of the Council, says:
“Our standards are high throughout the Council and this is reflected in the impressive number of nominations for awards and I congratulate and thank everyone nominated.

“We are also extremely pleased that so many other organisations want to be associated with the Council and with our STARS Awards and we are also very grateful to those who generously sponsor the awards.  Without their support and finance, it would not be possible to hold this event.”

Meet our STARS:

Employee of the Year sponsored by Civica:
Elaine Hammans - Commissioning and Quality Manager - Early Years

Nominators said: “Elaine's day job is Quality Manager for Early Years, contributing to the rapid improvement in quality of our day-care provision with over 80% judged as good or outstanding.  Through all of her work and most recently though her successful and courageous leadership of the Big Lottery bid, securing £35 million to improve the lives and life chances of Southend's 3¬5 year olds, she has striven for better care, safer environments, healthier babies and toddlers and more prosperous families.” 

The Mayor’s Award sponsored by Civica:
Fulfilling Lives A Better Start Project team

Nominators said: “This team have been successfully put together Southend's Big Lottery bid resulting in our town receiving £40 million over ten years to benefit our youngest and most vulnerable children.  Facing fierce competition from across the country, they made sure that our bid was the brightest and the best. With gentle, firm persuasion they invited key leaders to attend a two day stakeholder event, encouraging all participants to sign up to the vision. Having won the bid, their work continues as does their determination to ensure that no young child born in Southend is prevented from achieving their full potential because of where they are born or because of the circumstances they are born into.”

Team of the Year sponsored by Unit 4 (Agresso):
Legal Services Social Care and Education team

Nominators said: “This team work long and hard drawing on its skills, expertise and experience to achieve its objectives.  Working closely with colleagues in both Children’s and Adults Services to deliver a safe and effective provision, they are alert to the risks involved in dealing with such difficult work.   One  of  the  first  authorities  in  the  country  to  pilot  shorter  timescales  for  care  proceedings before  this  became  a  general  legal requirement  this  has  seen  the  length  of  care  proceedings  reduce  by  half for  children  in  Southend  and  the  Essex  Family  Court  has  been  recognised  as  a  beacon  court.” 

Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Winn's Security:
Kelly Robertson – Governance Assistant (Team Apprentice at time of nominations)

Nominators said: “Kelly is an absolute asset to the Policy Engagement and Communications team.  She has a can-do attitude and is always willing to take on new tasks and challenges whether they are within her remit or not.  Happy to cover unexpected absences within the team she picks up the work quickly and efficiently; more recently the Outlook magazine following the elections with the minimum of fuss and the maximum commitment, Kelly immersed herself in the project to ensure that this important publication was completed on time, budget and high standard.” 

Engaging Leadership sponsored by Pinnacle:
Ruth Baker – Group Manager for Fieldwork Services

Nominators said: “Ruth is a highly experienced and committed group manager, leading the children's social care fieldwork service. Ruth’s staff have agreed they are clear about what they need to achieve, they understand how their work helps meet the service objectives, that they had their training needs identified and met and feel leadership was visible and accessible.   She is an inspiration to her staff who respond enthusiastically to her leadership.”

Values sponsored by Reed Global:
Nicola Mason – Economic Development Officer for the Enterprise and Innovation Team

Nominators said: “Nikki is one of the Council's unsung heroes.   Consistently and quietly working away in the background with a determination to see everything succeed regardless of whether it's a piece of work she's responsible for of not.  Nikki is willing to help anyone and has regularly reprioritised her own workload to support colleagues who are under particular pressure or need some additional capacity from time to time.”

Focused Performance sponsored by Canon:
Joint Domestic Abuse Triage Team

Nominators said: “The team share information to inform the decision making in relation to statutory intervention with vulnerable children when incidents of domestic abuse taken place.  The team work well in partnership and are able to support improvements of safeguarding of children and young people.  Working well across their various disciplines and receive excellent feedback on the positive impact they have from children's statutory social work teams.”

Resilience and Growth sponsored by APC Solutions:
Museums Curatorial team

Nominators said: “Working extremely hard on a number of projects including the successful relocation of the Beecroft Art Gallery, The London Shipwreck Project and the Beauty and The Beach travelling Exhibition; each of the 5 curators is incredibly dedicated and their resilience in the difficult and changing times they have had over the last year has been a real inspiration.  They have proved that even against the odds, at times, you can achieve what you set out to achieve with dedication, determination and your team alongside you.”

Customer Service - Customer Facing award sponsored by Kana:
Customer Service Centre team

Nominators said: “The whole of the CSC team deliver an excellent service and have the customers’ best interests at heart. They do not get the flexibility of the rest of the authority and need to work in a different way to achieve the service targets. It can also be difficult with uncertainty of the impact of the welfare reforms, but despite this they really do want to deliver a good service and do this despite facing obstacles and challenges.”

Customer Service – Support award sponsored by Reed Global:
Alan Cairey – Cory Environmental Services

Nominators said: “This is a long story but one worthy of sharing: having worked for both the Council and the current contractor for over 25 years Alan currently works the seafront areas in the early mornings rain or shine picking litter always with good humour and a friendly word.  On the 1st Feb 6 men were illegally collecting oysters at North Shoebury Common. Around 8am I was accompanied by only one other female colleague. The consignment was large and the police were unable to provide assistance.  Alan was waiting for his pick up to take him to his next job but seeing us offered what support he could standing nearby brandishing his radio to give the impression he was also part of our operation. He could have not offered to help but he did. The interaction went off with no aggression on the part of the men and the consignment was seized. I have no doubt Alan’s support helped it to run smoothly. Also left with 250kg oysters which I now needed to get in our vehicle he and his colleague helped us to swiftly load the vehicle.   A small event but one that shows Alan’s commitment to Southend and his natural wish to help others.”

Safe sponsored by APCOA:
Child Protection and Safeguarding team

Nominators said: “The work of this team is highly valued both across the Council and by partner agencies. They provide reassurance and advice to others in what can be complex and sensitive safeguarding issues. They are a small team but they have a wide remit and they deal with all their areas of responsibility with a high degree of professionalism.  A recent incident has once again highlighted their partnership working, their flexibility, clear thinking, calmness and ability to focus on what is in the best interests of children.”

Clean sponsored by Environmental Applications:
Parks Management team

Nominators said: “Southend is widely known for the high quality of its parks and gardens and these outstanding horticultural outcomes cannot be achieved without a huge amount of dedication, hard work and talent. The Parks team are committed to keeping the town’s parks and open spaces in a simply superb condition – whether it’s creating the wonderful floral displays seen across the borough or keeping the highways free from weeds the team takes huge pride in their work.”

Healthy sponsored by Eurovia Infrastructure Limited:
Nevada Shaw - Older Adults Service Lead in Public Health

Nominators said: “Nevada has been the key driver for the number of initiatives to help older people in Southend to maintain their independence and improve their health and wellbeing. Including the ‘Staying Steady’ community based programme, the ‘hospital from home’ and assisting with the roll out of dementia friends training.  She never loses sight of the end goal, always having a successful strategy to navigate and overcome any challenges she faces in setting up the services – and she never loses her sense of humour!” 

Prosperous, sponsored by Linstock:
Janine Rowley – Senior Planning Officer for Development Control and Building Control

Nominators said: A planning officer would normally expect to carry a workload of around 40 - 50 planning applications at any one time; Janine has taken on up to 100, working overtime and weekends to ensure project timescales do not slip. Janine has made a significant and outstanding contribution to the Department’s 2013/14 planning performance, the highest ever achieved at Southend, and puts Southend in the top 10 best performing Planning Departments in the country. In doing so Janine has helped support a buoyant property market and contributed to the prosperity of Southend.

Excellent sponsored by Unit 4 (Agresso:
Claire Reed – Conservator for the Museums and Galleries Team

Nominators said: “Claire demonstrates excellence in all her work, often going above and beyond her role of providing excellent conservation support, guidance and treatment and has effectively undertaken the work of curators to the highest standard. She provides continual professional support to staff and is always supportive of their personal growth and professional development within the service. She actively networks with a range of other museums and academic institutions, training students on work placement from Lincoln University; mentoring conservation technician trainees with the Institute of Conservation and mentoring the Pier Museum staff.”

The STARS Awards 2014 judging panel consisted of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Chief Executive Rob Tinlin, Council Leader Ron Woodley, The Worshipful The Mayor of Southend, Councillor Chris Walker, and the Council’s Corporate Director for Support Services, Sally Holland.