Archive for the ‘Leaders Blog’ Category

Recognising the county’s top carers and care companies

Monday, July 15th, 2019
Some of the attendees of this years’ Staffordshire Dignity in Care Awards

Every year we have a very special awards ceremony to recognise and thank the care services and individuals who ensure people in care are treated with dignity and respect.

This year was no different and over 120 guests gathered with family members and work colleagues for the Staffordshire Dignity in Care Awards at Newcastle College.

It’s always a wonderful celebration that recognises the best of the care sector in Staffordshire and once again it was great to see such a wide range of carers and organisations being recognised. And the one thing they all have in common is that they always put their clients or the people they look after first and put dignity at the heart of everything they do.

Here’s some photos of the award winners and I would like to say a huge well done to the winners and runners up and everyone who was nominated.

You can read more about all the winners on the Staffordshire Newsroom by clicking ‘County’s top carers recognised in Dignity Awards’.

Ten years on from the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard

Friday, July 5th, 2019
I went back to the field where it all started to meet with Fred Johnson, the owner of the farm and Steve Dean, former Archaeologist for Staffordshire County Council who led the excavation work.

It’s hard to believe that this time ten years ago the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered.

I still remember how exciting it was, not just for all of us involved, but for everyone in Staffordshire and even across the globe. Even to this day, it still has people talking.

On the actual day of the find I was discussing ideas for a new logo for the county council with Cabinet Members and senior managers. Funny enough, one idea being using the Staffordshire Knot. I even suggested that it should be 24-caret gold which didn’t go down to well.

It was shortly after that meeting, that I was told there had been one of the greatest finds since Tutankhamun. Seeing photos shortly after verified just how significant this find was and seeing the story unfold is something I won’t forget.

During the early period, only a select few of us actually knew about it. I’ve never forgotten the day I told the senior leadership team and cabinet members and their reactions. The big challenge for the team was keeping the news a secret until the items could be safely taken out of the ground.

As the days went on, it quickly became clear just how significant the discovery was. Finding items like swords, the serpents and the millefiori and seeing them being pieced together was like seeing a puzzle coming together.

It’s interesting to look back at what the hoard has meant for the county. During the time of its discovery all eyes were on Staffordshire, even garnering interest from as far as China. Not to mention a phone call from the Vatican. 

It remains a truly remarkable collection and there is nothing comparable in terms of content and quality in the UK or mainland Europe. And, with designs of the objects now being linked to many regions across Europe, it’s now part of our fascinating history and giving people another great reason to visit Staffordshire.

Make sure you’re ‘Air Aware’!

Monday, June 24th, 2019
Pupils from Heath Hayes Primary Academy monitoring air pollution outside their school

On Thursday we launched our brand new Air Aware Staffordshire campaign on Clean Air Day to help raise everyone’s awareness of air pollution.

The good news is that many people are already doing their bit to tackle air pollution in the county, which is great. So far, 15 schools, 6,500 pupils and 1,000 parents in priority areas are already working with us to reduce car journeys to school, as well as persuading drivers not to leave their engines running while parked.

This is a big problem for all of us but by making small changes to the way we travel such as walking or cycling to work and school, we can improve our health through exercise, limit air pollution and lower greenhouse gases.

I would particularly like to thank pupils and staff at Heath Hayes Primary Academy in Cannock who helped launch the campaign and are already very active and making a real difference. Their hard work was rewarded with a nice feature on Central News. You can view it here.

It’s also great to see local businesses like Holland and Barrett joining in and encouraging employees to consider more active travel options or even sharing a lift with colleagues to reduce the number of journeys made.

But there is more we all can do together – if we all make one small change, together we can make a big difference.

The new People helping people fund

Friday, June 21st, 2019
People Power Celebrated in Staffordshire with Launch of New Fund

Regular readers of my blog will already be aware that the way councils are funded is changing with less money coming from government to local councils.

Essentially, we can no longer deliver everything we once did, so while we concentrate on prioritising our legal responsibilities for the most vulnerable in our communities, the way we work with local people needs to change.

To help with this, we’ve recently launched our People Helping People fund, where each county councillor has £2,500 to invest in community and voluntary projects and groups that support people’s health and wellbeing, or on children and families who need a little extra support.

By working differently with our local communities, we can ensure we keep doing the essential things like social care, while people do their bit in their local community to make sure Staffordshire continues to be a great place to live. Our message is that small things really do make a difference, so something as small as talking to an elderly neighbour who may be lonely, or encouraging your family to eat more fruits and vegetables, can add up to a bigger whole.

There are some great ideas on the kind of things you could do on the county council website, just search for “doing our bit” to get access to a wealth of ideas.

By working together and doing our bit, we can all help make Staffordshire an even greater place to live.

Thousands turn out for IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Thankfully the rain held off on Sunday allowing the fifth IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire to run without a hitch.

The highly anticipated triathlon saw over 2,400 people take part in this year’s competition, while communities from across Staffordshire came to show their support.

A first for the event saw competitors take on the gruelling half-marathon up to Stafford Castle (twice!), with the finishing line waiting for them in Stafford town centre.

Of course with a big event like IRONMAN the challenge comes with ensuring it runs smoothly so a big thanks to everyone involved, especially the volunteers who helped make it such a success. A huge well done also to those who took part, it was a tough challenge so well done.

Photos from the event:

Queen’s Birthday Honours for Staffordshire

Monday, June 10th, 2019

It is a joy for me to say a huge congratulations to all the Staffordshire residents who have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours over the weekend.

Bill & Jean Foster

It really is wonderful to see people from Staffordshire being recognised for their hard work and dedication, and to see such a wide range of areas being recognised. From a foster family who have fostered over 180 children, a scout leader, one of our librarians who’s helping shape national policy, a university principle to a football chairman.

Sue Ball

We really are blessed to have among us many people quietly excelling in their area of expertise, whose contribution benefits us all and I am delighted to see their efforts honoured in this way. I hope people will join me in passing on our thanks and congratulations.

Residents receiving an honour include:

  • CBE for Prof Liz Barnes, of Rugeley, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, for services to Higher Education;
  • OBE for Dr Christopher Wakeling, of Stoke-on-Trent, Chairman of Historic England’s Places of Worship Forum, for services to Heritage;
  • MBE for Sue Ball, of Coven, stock, services and activities manager at Staffordshire County Council for services to Libraries;
  • MBE for Bill Foster, of Burton-upon-Trent, foster parent, for services to fostering in Staffordshire;
  • MBE for Jean Foster, of Burton-upon-Trent, foster parent, for services to fostering in Staffordshire;
  • MBE for Ben Robinson, of Burton-upon-Trent, Chairman of Burton Albion, for services to the community in Burton-upon-Trent,
  • MBE for Mrs Jane Shepherd, of Stoke-on-Trent, Managing Director of Shepherd PR, for services to International Trade and the community in Staffordshire;
  • BEM for Wilf Burt, of Stoke-on-Trent, Vice-President of Staffordshire County Scouts, for services to Scouting, Young People and the community in Stoke-on-Trent

Getting ready to celebrate Volunteers’ Week

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

We will all know someone who works tirelessly in their communities, giving up their time working with voluntary organisations, groups and charities to help improve the lives of others.

Well, National Volunteers’ Week starts this Saturday (1 June) and it’s the time we recognise and celebrate all their contributions.

For example, in our libraries and our community managed libraries there are almost 1,000 volunteers helping out, all helping the community by running community events, helping people with their IT skills, giving access to books and information to housebound people and much more.

But we also have volunteers helping out in our schools, children’s centres, country parks and our Archives and Museums services so there’s lots of different opportunities for different interests.

So, whether it’s helping out at a local sports group, youth club, library or children’s centre, or simply supporting those people in communities that are most in need –  elderly, young people, and children and families it all makes an amazing difference.

There are lots of volunteering opportunities available in Staffordshire and you can find out more at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/volunteering

And remember, volunteering not only benefits our local communities but it can also greatly benefit the people who give up their time too. Whether it is learning new skills, keeping active, improving mental health and wellbeing, or making new friends, volunteering can have real long-term benefits.

Launch of the 2019 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019
Visitors at the National Memorial Arboretum. Last year they won an award for Best Guided Tour of the Year

I’ve blogged about this topic before about how over the last ten years tourism has really grown here in Staffordshire and how it is now the fourth largest employing sector in the county.

It also plays a vital part in our overall economy and our local tourism businesses continue to do a great job attracting visitors both locally and nationally.

Of course Staffordshire Day has been vital in helping showcase our great county across the UK. Since it started in 2016, it has really shot off and this year we saw just how big it had gotten – trending nationally on Twitter all day with hundreds of people sharing their Staffordshire Day mugshots.

But key to this success are our tourism businesses and attractions who continue to provide innovative and high quality experiences, so it’s only right they get their day to shine too.

Returning again this year, although slightly revamped is the 2019 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards, there are a total of 19 awards this year, it’s straightforward to enter and it’s a great way of promoting your business. Entries must be submitted before 5pm on 28th June and you can enter by clicking here.

Winners will then also go forward to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence where they’ll represent Staffordshire and take on some of the country’s top tourism businesses.

Make sure you get your entry in early and good luck…

Change a Future!

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Foster Care Fortnight launch in Market Square, Stafford

I have blogged about our Children’s Services earlier in the year when we were rated as good by Ofsted. You can read the post again by clicking here.

One of the most important things the service does is to help keep vulnerable children safe. Sometimes, and for many different reasons, we need to keep children safe from harm by finding loving homes for them, either through adoption or finding a foster family for them.

We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life and grow up to be able to realise their dreams, and as a local foster carer that’s exactly what you could do.  

Foster Care Fortnight which started on Monday 13 May is a national campaign that we support every year and we launched this year’s campaign live on Facebook from the Market Square in Stafford. 

The team are also taking Reggie the bus on tour across the county giving people interested in fostering a chance to find out more and talk to real foster carers.

All sorts of people can and do foster with us and you’re never on your own. It is a challenge and it takes the right attitude, some core qualities and training and support, but anyone over 21 with a spare bedroom can basically do it.

Look out for Reggie between 10am and 2pm when he calls into a town near you:

  • Wednesday 15 May, Market Square, Lichfield
  • Thursday 16 May, Coopers Square carpark, Burton
  • Friday 17 May, Dovefields, Uttoxeter
  • Monday 20 May, Outside St. Edithas Church, Tamworth
  • Tuesday 21 May, Cheadle (back of Barclays)
  • Wednesday 22 May, Stone High Street (outside B&M)
  • Thursday 23 May, Market Square, Cannock
  • Friday 24 May, Ironmarket, Newcastle

Remember, if you can’t make a roadshow, you can find out more about fostering with the county council by visiting www.care4child.org/changeafuture or by calling 0800 169 2061.

A huge thanks to everyone who joined in the Staffordshire Day celebrations

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019
Celebrating Staffordshire Day

This is just to thank everyone who helped make this year’s Staffordshire Day celebrations such a huge success and to all the businesses, tourism providers and local communities who joined in. It was wonderful to see everyone coming together to share their pride and show what great things the county has to offer.

Once again, the day itself and the 70-plus events over the week and bank holiday weekend brought thousands out and we were trending nationally on Twitter. Hundreds of people rushed to share their mugshots on social media and we even got a tweet from the House of Commons!

If you’ve been following the action, you will know that events took place right across the county, including at key Staffordshire attractions like World of Wedgwood, Alton Towers, Drayton Manor Park, Uttoxeter Racecourse and the National Memorial Arboretum.

As we all know in our great county tourism is really booming and our local tourism businesses continue to do us proud and a great job attracting more and more visitors. 

Having Staffordshire Day as an annual event now in our calendar is a really great opportunity to raise the profile of our fantastic county and place us on the national and international stage.

We’re now looking forward to our next Staffordshire Day next year which we hope will be even bigger and better. And, remember, if you have any ideas for next year’s theme let us know.