Service providers which are transforming peoples’ lives in Essex have been commended at Essex County Council’s second annual Supplier Recognition Awards.
The ceremony celebrates the Council’s top suppliers and their achievements, which this year range from helping people with learning difficulties access life-changing voluntary work, to providing superfast internet in hard-to-reach rural areas.
There were 32 entries in four categories all showcasing the variety of Council service providers’ commitment to innovation and digital to improve outcomes for residents in the county, while providing better value to taxpayers.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “These awards celebrate the outstanding contribution external service providers make to improve the lives of residents in Essex.
“We are proud to work with a variety of different organisations whose innovations and commitment to digital are making a real difference to people’s lives.
“Together we are providing services in new and improved ways at lower cost, but also investing for the future so that Essex is a better place in which to live and work.”
The winners are:
Corporate social responsibility – Voluntary Action Epping Forest
The Supported Volunteering Learning Disabilities Project helps people with learning difficulties become volunteers, working in conjunction with their carers and other support services.
Each client, whether seeking an individual or group activity, has his or her own personal development plan. For some, it is for company and just getting out of the house, but for others it is a stepping stone to employment or leading a more independent life.
Voluntary Action Epping Forest currently works with 125 volunteer-involving organisations and is continually seeking new placements for clients as well as identifying ways of improving existing ones.
Best local small to medium enterprises – Channels & Choices
Channels & Choices offers independent therapeutic child care services for children and young people. The service is made up of six children’s homes and a school providing both primary and secondary education. In addition, it includes a therapeutic fostering service to help place children and young people who have suffered trauma or neglect in their past, causing them to develop issues that affect their everyday life. Each of these facilities is also supported by an in-house therapy team.
The service’s ‘Stepping Stone’ programme helps to break the cycle of placement breakdown for children and young people, supporting them to remain in a more permanent, consistent placement, empowering them to reach their full potential.
The programme also allows the child to have consistency in terms of his or her therapist, key staff and school, as inconsistency can trigger breakdowns in placements when children move from residential to foster care. Channels & Choices is the only provider that can offer this type of service in the UK.
Best use of digital technology – Openreach
ECC has a contract with Openreach to deliver Superfast Broadband to areas of Essex deemed ‘not commercially viable’ by the market.
Openreach has supported the Superfast Essex team with a number of specific innovations. One significant step forward was to provide data for an interactive online map which meant the ECC website could display detailed roll-out information to residents, reducing the number of enquiries being received.
More than 100,000 homes and businesses are now receiving internet at 30Mbps and above for the first time and the programme continues to deliver upgrades at a rate of around 2,000 per month. The first contract with Openreach achieved deployment savings of £2.5 million, which is being re-invested in further coverage.
Forward thinking innovation – Family Mosaic Floating Support
The Essex Floating Support Service offers help to people across the county experiencing a range of problems, including financial hardship, health-related problems and housing issues. When facing a 30% reduction in funding, ECC agreed to the providers’ proposal to embrace technology and change their processes by introducing tablets and new software.
This new way of working has reduced administration and the time taken to complete new assessments by more than half. The tablets also enable live data to be accessed by managers and reduce the time taken to write and copy documents which also do not need to be printed, thereby helping the environment and aiding data protection.
So while funding has reduced, the number of service users being supported at any one time has risen from 1,100 to about 2,000.