Dragons' Den - 22 May 2009
The seventh BEST Dragons’ Den took place on 22nd May at the Custard Factory in Digbeth.
The Dragons on the panel in the morning were: Raffaela Goodby – Employee Engagement Manager, Geoff Bonner – Chief Executive of Hart District Council, Ashley Innis – Cabinet Support Officer for Cllr Rudge and Matthew Butler – Digital Communications Officer for BEST.
First up in front of the Dragons were Ranjna Theaker & Dorrette Hansan from Handsworth Library in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. The team were looking for funding to enhance their 2009 summer holiday activities for children. The team are committed to providing free, high quality activities for the young people within their local community and approached the Dragons with a compelling and well thought out pitch which had included looking at how to measure the success of the project and the implications to their team. The Dragons were very impressed awarding the team the funding required and asked them to publicise their activities in local schools and community groups.
Next to brave the dragons were Linda Higgins and her colleague Mike Reed from Hall Green Library in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. Mike and Linda gave a very innovative storybook themed presentation describing to the dragons that they were looking for funding to revamp the teenage section of the library. The team feel that a facelift of the current area would encourage more teenagers to spend time in the library and take greater advantage of the service available. Linda and Mike really showed the dragons what being successful would mean to the team and showed how the action had come from the BEST workshop and how it could be linked to the values. The dragons were very happy to award funding for this project on the condition that the team provided a detailed description of how the money would be spent.
Amy Bashford and Julia Davey from the Communication and Autism Team in the Children, Young People and Families Directorate were next to face the dragons. Amy and Julia gave a very moving presentation detailing how funding from the dragons would be able to provide the 3 citywide teams with a resources box to help them work with children who have been diagnosed with autism or Aspergers syndrome. These resource boxes include more specialised tools to aid with social interaction which would be shared across the city providing the 1500 (approx) pupils who they support with the best chance at being able to attend a mainstream school and impact on their behaviour by helping them to develop their social skills. The Dragons were moved by what they were shown and impressed that Amy & Julia had taken the time to think beyond their team and bid for resources for the whole city showing real belief in their project. The dragons had no reservations in awarding full funding.
Also receiving funding from the dragons were Jackie Robinson & Peter Barratt from Erdington Neighbourhood Office in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. They were applying for funding to help them with their team building afternoon. Invited to the team building event will be staff from the neighbourhood office, local libraries and leisure centres and will include a variety of activities from the very practical such as planning and management feedback to fun charity quizzes and a raffle. The dragons felt it was very important that the managers stand together to deliver key messages and praise to the team but also stressed the importance of cross office teams to get the most out of the team building afternoon. The dragons also offered to donate an Ipod shuffle sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers as a raffle prize.
Facing the dragons before lunch was Peter Rawlinson from the Primary & Secondary Admissions and Appeals Team in the Children, Young People & Families Directorate. Peter approached the dragons hoping to modernise the outdated schools appeals system. At present the team use a paper based mapping system relying on photocopies to denote catchment areas for schools and whether or not pupils fall into them. Peter believed that the inaccuracy of this method was the basis for many of the appeals and approached the dragons for funding to provide a projector for them to showcase their much more effective electronic mapping programme. There would be many advantages to this two of which would be a reduced amount of disputes and appeals leading to efficiency savings as the amount of appeals would be reduced. The other advantage of this system would be around sustainability; as the team would be generating less paper. The dragons were very impressed with Peter’s presentation and offered him the funding required. The dragons also felt that there was more work to be done to make the process slicker and offered their time and resources to assist in this process.
The afternoon session brought a panel of five new dragons: Andy Albon – Director of Human Resources, Richard Billingham – Head of Organisational Development & Learning, Jacqui Kennedy – Director of Regulatory Services, Siobhan Brittland – Directorate Engagement Manager for Housing & Constituencies & Nikki Thomas-Tapper – Teacher at Virtual College.
Approaching the dragons for the second time after lunch was the team from Hawthorn House Library in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. Having been successful at applying for funding in September 2008 the team decided to try their luck with the dragons a second time; this time around the team were hoping to secure funding for a community arts day. Representing Hawthorn House, Joan Henderson & Jenny Rushton gave a presentation to the panel detailing the activities they were hoping to provide for the community arts day such as dance and craft workshops. The dragons were happy to support the idea in principle but felt that there should be some research done into what service users would want by doing a simple customer survey. The dragons also felt that it was important to create a link to the neighbouring team at Handsworth Library, who had secured funding earlier in the day for summer community activities, to make sure that their events complimented each other. With these conditions in place the dragons were happy to agree to the team’s funding request.
Alan McGeachie, Andera Robertson and Julie Crawford from the Link Centre in Small Heath from the Children, Young People & Families Directorate braved the dragons to ask for funding to help rejuvenate their very dilapidated building. The Link Centre provide education for those pupils who have been permanently excluded from schools or face the possibility of permanent exclusion in the near future and is a centre of activity within their community offering their facilities to local community groups. The staff feel that its run down exterior does nothing to motivate those pupils who attend the centre and that a relatively small action such as a lick of paint would engender a sense of pride and make not only the pupils but the staff feel more valued. The dragons felt that this was a worthwhile project and not only agreed to provide funding but also offered their services to look for alternative options to gain extra financial support.
Next to face the dragons was Mark Rodgers from Housing Divisional Management Team in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. Mark very bravely offered to step in last minute to give the presentation as his colleague was unavailable to do so. The team were looking to publicly celebrate those members of frontline staff who are doing an excellent job. Mark gave a very detailed presentation detailing how they planned to reward individuals and teams with certificates and provide a tenant with a lifetime achievement award. The dragons felt that awarding success and excellence was truly in the spirit of BEST and showed real belief in the service and were willing to award the funding requested.
The last team to survive the Dragons’ Den were Cassie Stroud & Sharon Jeffry from Wylde Green Library in the Housing & Constituencies Directorate. Two years ago the library was reopened in a community hall and whilst most of the facilities were new some of the display stands were second hand and are not suitable for purpose. This action was based on customer feedback and aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. Many of the shelves especially those housing the talking books are blow knee height which makes them inaccessible to a majority of their customers and the team felt that two new display units would not only rectify this problem but allow them to showcase their stock to the best of their ability. Cassie and Sharon gave a very professional, succinct and heartfelt presentation that left the dragons in no doubt that they wanted to support this project.