Thanks to our gritting crews, a ministerial visit, and recognition for Families First

I couldn’t start this week’s entry with anything other than the winter weather – the combination of snow and wind has made it especially challenging for those keeping the roads clear. Our gritting crews have been flat out for the best part of a week now, and they’ve done a magnificent job. We shouldn’t also forget the Fleetcare crews who have been keeping them on the road in some of most inhospitable conditions for mechanical machinery.

We had a visit from Nadhim Zahawi MP, the newly appointed Minister for Children and Families, on Thursday to see what we are doing in the Government’s flagship 30 hours of childcare scheme. In the pilot, Matt Biggs and his team have taken a bold initiative and engaged with employers as well as families and childcare suppliers to persuade them to change shifts and work patterns so that the families get the most benefit. The challenge is now to do the same at scale with the main scheme but we are already making great progress with Staffordshire now having one of the highest take-up rates in the region, with almost 4,500 children taking advantage of the funded childcare.

It was also a very pleasant surprise to hear that one of our Families First Colleagues is to be recognised by Staffordshire Police for her part in Operation SHADE, a particularly complex and harrowing Child Sexual Exploitation case which came to a conclusion recently. She and a number of colleagues have worked conscientiously and carefully over many months in some pretty difficult circumstances to ensure that the twin aims of bringing the perpetrators to justice and looking after the victims is achieved. It’s quite humbling to be part of the same organisation.

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