Dragons' Den - 13 November 2008
The fourth BEST Dragons’ Den took place on 13th November at the Custard Factory in Digbeth. The day was divided into two halves with separate morning and afternoon Dragons. The Dragons for the morning session were: Councillor Ray Hassall – Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture, Jason Lowther – Acting Director of Policy & Delivery, Chris Jordan – Constituency Director for Selly Oak, Richard Billingham – Head of Organisation Development and Jill Cheshire – BEST Programme Manager for Children, Young People & Families Directorate. First to face the dragons were South Yardley Library from Housing & Constituencies led by BEST Leader Sally Naven. The team whose library has recently reopened after over 18 months of closure wanted to help their customers get to grips with the new and sometimes confusing labelling system for fiction books. Along with Sally, manager Eileen Kenny and colleague Debbie Carter provided examples of a bookmark featuring a design detailing not only the new labelling system, but the library’s contact details and opening times. The dragons were very happy to support this project and even looked at the possibility of rolling out the project constituency wide.
Next to enter the Den was BEST leader Helen Millington & and her team from the Sutton Coldfield Constituency Office in Housing & Constituencies. The team were hoping to achieve funding to turn an unused space at a residential home for people with physical and sensory disabilities into a pleasant and inviting garden for residents to relax in. The team impressed the dragons who awarded them the funding required to complete this team building and community project.
The Development & Childrens Team from Resources in Chief Executives decided in their BEST workshop that they would like to provide termly, area based school surgeries where staff and governors can come to discuss confidentially any concerns they have. The surgeries will help to further develop our relationship with their school colleagues, providing support and advice whilst also continually improving the understanding of the school environment which will enable them to deliver the best service possible. The dragons were more than happy to support this innovative idea.
Next in front of the dragons was a joint effort from the BEST Leaders from three Sutton Coldfield Community Centres – Falcon Lodge, Mere Green Centre & Brampton Hall in Housing & Constituencies. The three teams represented by Michelle Charlton, Julie Wilson & Angela Simpson wanted to work together to hold a Christmas Tea Dance for the senior citizen groups from each of the centres. The BEST leaders felt that it would be a lovely social event but also a great way to promote all of the services and activities offered by the centres. The dragons felt that this was a worthwhile project and were impressed with the team working that had already taken place to organise this event. The Dragons also had suggestions on how the teams could find funding in the future to be able to make this an annual event.
Atief Ishaq, BEST Leader and his team from the Householder Team in Development and Culture decided in their BEST workshops that they would approach the dragons for assistance with a recycling initiative. The team wanted to make sure that their team was being more environmentally sound and sustainable by recycling wherever possible. The BEST dragons were overjoyed to support this action as it is in line with one of the Council’s five priorities.
Dragon Jill Cheshire said “It was a humbling experience to see the initiative and team working from very busy frontline staff. I am really proud of the commitment to customer service displayed by all those that braved the dragons.”
The afternoon panel consisted of only four dragons these were Stephen Hughes – Chief Executive, Elaine Elkington – Director of Housing & Constituencies, Raffaela Goodby - Employee Engagement Manager, Hazel Broadhouse – BEST Programme Manager for Chief Executives Directorate and Margit Lear – Business Implementation Officer for Chief Executive's Directorate, EPM.
Entering the den after lunch was BEST manager Kevin Allen on behalf of his team of BEST leaders and joined by his colleague Steve Craven from the Thomas Pocklington Trust. This was a joint application between Residential and Day Care Services in Adults and Communities and the Pocklington Trust, the first joint application between an internal and external agency. The team were looking for funding for portable appliance testing in the community, for older adults with sight loss who might not necessarily be able to see any faults with their appliances, if the team were to gain funding from the dragons this would be matched pound for pound by the trust. Kevin and Steve gave a great presentation and were grilled by the dragons who wanted to know about how the project would be evaluated and the forward plans. After a nerve wracking wait were told that they had been successful.
Sutton Reference Library from Housing & Constituencies approached the dragons for funding for a calendar to be produced made up of photographs from the local studies department of the library. The team lead by Ariadne Plant and Chris Beamond had decided that it would be nice to share historical photos of the area with local residents and that with a calendar they would be able to enjoy for the next 12 months. The dragons were happy to support this product for the community.
Next to brave the Dragons’ was BEST Manager Jo Smith and her colleague Simon Cane from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The managers of this team want to hold a series of staff conferences which are designed to be both fun and serious, highly interactive and for a proper dialogue to be set up between front facing staff and back of house staff. Jo and Simon gave a compelling presentation to the dragons demonstrating how these conferences would centre around the Council’s core values of belief, excellence, success and trust and how they would improve staff morale and team working. The Dragons happily agreed funding for this team.
Also successful with the BEST Dragons were one of the Care Management Teams lead by BEST leader Georgina Field, who were looking for a small amount of funding to provide certificates of achievement for looked after children who complete their GCSEs. The team realised that looked after children face many more challenges than children not in the care system when it comes to undertaking examinations and that those who do undertake GCSE’s should have some recognition for this. The team also felt that this was a good way of cementing the positive relationships that can be built up between social workers and those in their care. The hope is that this small means of congratulations would help to focus on their achievement and encourage them to continue with education and learning. The BEST Dragons were very impressed with this idea and backed the team 100%.
Finally, last to receive funding from the dragons was Tabriz Hussain from Enterprising Communities, Hall Green in Housing & Constituencies. This team felt that their dilapidated meeting room was not only a source of low morale for the team but an eyesore and an embarrassment creating an unprofessional environment for meetings.
Dragon Elaine Elkington said “It was inspiring to see such enthusiasm and innovation. I was really proud of our staff teams who have loads of ideas and the teams I saw were distinguished by their drive and energy to do their jobs well. A brilliant experience!”