Success Stories 2007
On this page you will find just some of the highlights from BEST workshops in 2007. Even small actions are a BEST success story, talking to your team, smiling more, doing one small thing extra for a customer, simplifying a form, or simply having an honest conversation with a colleague.
Well done to all BEST teams for their contributions and success in 2007, and we look forward to seeing and hearing more in 2008!
BEST 2007 Leader of the Year: Chantelle Dingwall Directorate: Adults and Communities BEST 2007 Manager of the Year: Ralston Du’Quesney Directorate: Adults and Communities
Best of the BEST!
A big congratulations to Chantelle Dingwall and Ralston Du’Quesney, both from the Adults and Communities Directorate, for winning BEST Leader and BEST Manager of the Year 2007 respectively.
Chantelle, an admin assistant at the Assist Birmingham Centre was nominated by her colleagues who were impressed by her enthusiasm and her presentation skills.
She believes BEST has improved the service her team provides by creating a better and more open working atmosphere. Chantelle said: ‘I feel my team works well together and the team are more open to ideas.With the ideas from staff it has made the service more efficient and cost effective, it has enabled the department to be more flexible in service delivery.’
Ralston Du’Quesney’s team, who are based at Cheshire Court Sheltered Accommodation, nominated Ralston for his BEST Manager of the Year Award because ‘he is a manager and a friend, he listens to us and gets things done. He is there for you and will back you and does not hold grudges.’
Ralston was surprised by how much his team embraced BEST. He said: ‘The whole team actively got involved with coming up with ideas on how to improve service delivery...they were genuinely empowered.’
Ralston’s team led by BEST Leader Terry Riley, a Home Care Assistant, decided to create a form to help them in their day to day work. The ‘What and When at a Glance’ form gives basic but important information which is placed at the front of each service users folder. This simple but effective idea has had great impact on the team and improved the service they provide- the form has been such a success that it has now been rolled out to other areas in the Yardley constituency.
BEST Leader: Brenda Clarke Directorate: Housing and Constituencies Team: Acocks Green Library
BEST Leader Brenda Clarke welcomed BEST as an opportunity for staff to get together and focus on things they would like to try out or improve.
Brenda, assistant community librarian at Acocks Green Library is most proud of their joint working action which was to set up a playgroup with local children and mothers.
Many mothers had expressed an interest in having a playgroup for their children but no one was willing to take responsibility for setting one up, but when BEST came along staff at the library realised it was now time to take action and get motivated.
Brenda said ‘Without BEST we would not have focused enough, seeing only the problems not the solutions and the group would never have got off the ground.’
The playgroup which is championed by library assistants Annette Gould and Lisa Richards, is designed for under 5’s and now around 20 children and their carers meet every Thursday afternoon during term time.
The group offers children the chance to take part in play time with others, art and craft sessions, sing-alongs and group reading time.
At their BEST 6 month review in July, the team felt ready to tackle another challenge which was suggested by Bogdan Torhan, supply staff at the library.
Bogdan, working alongside community librarian Mike Byrne, has been helping to support local Polish families within the community through pupils at Holy Souls School, Acocks Green.
Bogdan has been running weekly classes since September helping to provide practical help to Polish families by helping to fill in forms and making people aware of local language classes and support available as often people are unaware of services available as the advertising is in English.
To celebrate the success of the classes, on the Saturday before Christmas a Polish Christmas Part was held at the Library with carols, art and craft, a traditional Polish supper and Santa Claus for the children.
Pictures are avialable on the BEST Facebook Group.
BEST Leader: Dianne Caffrey Directorate: Housing and Constituencies Team: Bromford Neighbourhood Office
The team at Bromford Neighbourhood Office decided BEST was a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference to some of their most disadvantaged service users.
The front line team, led by Dianne Caffrey, come into regular contact with homeless or potentially homeless people and have a close working relationship with St.Basils, which is one of the largest UK agencies tackling and preventing youth homelessness.
As part of their BEST Workshop, the team identified St.Basils as one of their service partners, who help them on a regular basis and they wanted to return the favour.
One of the vital services St.Basils provides is the donation of ‘Starter Packs’ to young people, which help establish a new tenancy giving them a chance to move into thier own home.
The Bromford Neighbourhood Office Team realised this was one important part of St.Basils work that they could help with and began fundraising.
The team held a cake sale and a raffle within the office and held a large scale Secret Santa raffle involving other teams, where tickets were bought in good spirit for £1.
In total they have raised a fantastic £220 which is enough to fund three complete Starter Packs and also start the makings of three more!
BEST Leader: Sabrina Nolan and Paula Richards Directorate: CYPF Team: Golden Hillock Children’s Centre
Congratulations to Paula and Sabrina who jointly won the BEST Leader of the Month award for September 2007. They were nominated by all their colleagues for their fantastic presentation and their enthusiasm about BEST and the positive difference it can make.
Paula said: ‘Initially we feared our team might see this as another paper exercise, but when we saw the benefits that BEST could bring to our team we realised that the success would depend on us.’
The team at Golden Hillock Children’s Centre decided that for their Customer Service Action they would hold weekly meetings to discuss their diaries, which is a incredibly simple idea but has enabled the team to understand what others are now doing and means that they can offer each other advice and support.
They also decided to create folders with up to date information for each team and distribute duplicate copies to all partnership agencies allowing more effective partnership working.
Their simple but effective actions prove that often it is often the small actions which make a real difference to teams and service users.
BEST Leader: Amy Bashford Directorate: CYPF Team: Communication and Autism Team, Inclusion Services
BEST Leader Amy Bashford and her team decided BEST was an ideal opportunity to look at their working practices and to further improve the services that they provide.
The Communications and Autism Team are responsible for providing support groups to parents of children with autism. These groups are run during the day and so parents who work full time are unable to attend- missing out on vital support and advice offered by the team and its partners.
For the teams BEST Customer service Action they decided to trial an evening parents support group, The first group was set up in the south west of Birmingham and was attended by around 10 parents each week for 6 weeks.
After the initial 6 week support block parents will be offered future evening ‘drop in’ sessions so that they can catch up with any new developments, share concerns and share experiences with other parents.
This action has proved so successful with service users, that the team are now setting up another evening support group in the south of Birmingham and are negotiating running one in central Birmingham in the evening.
BEST Leader Amy said: ‘The evening support group was very successful as many parents have been unable to attend the parent support groups that we have run during the day.’
The team also feels that through talking honestly and openly about team working and the service that they provide at their BEST Workshop, that they are now working successfully as a whole team and also as three service sub areas. They are meeting regularly to discuss caseloads, support groups, support for each other and any other issues.
Another BEST success for this frontline team, is that the team now has a team notice board where they put any new ideas or resources for other team members to access and use.
BEST Leader Amy Bashford said: ‘The only downside to this is that it’s not big enough!! It has been a really good success’
BEST Leader: Jacqui Sutherland Directorate: CYPF Team: Readmedow Community Day Nursery
BEST Dragons Den
The BEST team at Readmedow Community Day Nursery were the first team to benefit from the new BEST Dragons Den winning a £500 contribution for their fantastic idea.
BEST Leader Jackie Sutherland and her team wanted to make a real difference to the children that use their nursery and saw BEST as an ideal opportunity to get together as a team and make a positive difference for their service users.
The nursery currently has a space which is over-grown and unused and is completely un-child friendly. The dedicated team plan to transform this area into a fantastic sensory garden for the children.
The nursery had managed to raise £200 towards the garden from their own funds and plan to hold fundraising activities with the help of parents and children when they turned to the BEST Support Team for help.
The team plan to clear and replant the garden, create bug habitats so the children can go on bug-hunts, plant an area with flowers and vegetables to encourage healthy eating amongst the children. The nursery staff also want to create a sound area, a water feature and a sensory playhouse with different textures to help teach the children.
If your BEST team would like any more information about BEST Dragons Den and how to apply then please contact your directorate support team for more information and an application form.
BEST Leader: John Gorman/Melissa Ames Directorate: CYPF Team: Duty and Assesment, team 3
When the Duty and Assesment Team, based in Selly Oak, got together for their BEST Workshop they decided to tackle an important service issue to improve the vital service they provide. BEST Leader John Gorman and his team decided to use their partnership working action to look at their working relationship with the Police. Duty social work teams and police child abuse teams work together on a near daily basis, but despite the closeness of their working realtionship there was a big gulf in the understanding of each others roles. This lack of understanding has led to mistrust and resentment of each other. For the teams BEST action they decided to invite a police representative to attend their team meeting to answer any questions and queries the team had and also to question and even challenge the teams working practices. On the first day of the police visit the team invited the officer to give the polices perspective on the issues before the team gave their views. They were amazed to find that the police’s concerns were almost identical to their own. This led to a number of suggestions of improvements, particulary in the area of inter agency communication- an issue higlighted in almost all child death enquires. An agreement was also raeched concerning the future joint training of police and social workers. BEST Leader John Gorman said: ‘ We look forward to this intiative becoming a permanent feature and that the children and families of Birmingham will benefit from the improvement achieved.’
BEST Leader: Les Lingard Directorate: CEX Team: Benefit Services
BEST Leader Les Lingard, a senior appeals officer in Benefit Services welcomed BEST as an opportunity for his team to develop and improve their working practices, helping to make a real financial saving to the organisation.
Through their BEST Workshop in December 2006 Les and his team decided to be more proactive with a new initiative for the Appeals Sector . The initiative involves recovering overpaid Housing Benefit by adjusting the amount the claimant received from other Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits for e.g: Job Seekers Allowance.
To facilitate this , Alison Whitmore, an experienced member of the team, demonstrated the process giving the rest of the team the knowledge and confidence to make this initiative part of their working day .
In the 6 month period from Dec 2006 - Jun 2007 Les has reported that the total money recovered through this initiative was an incredible£167,000 . (This projects to £334,000 for the calendar year )
Although some small teething problems have been encountered, these are being resolved , and it is likely that even more funds will be recovered in years to come, as the forward looking team increase in proficiency , and further develop their working relationship with partners, the DWP.
BEST Leader: Winnie Adams-Bell Directorate: CEX Team: Equalitites Team
The Equalites Team were so enthused by their BEST Workshop they decided to carry out an amazing eight actions and propsed another four at their BEST 6 month review!
BEST Leader Winnie Adams-Bell, an equality and diversity officer, is partiularly proud of two of the teams actions
For their Team Working action, Winnie’s team has put together a Success Folder. It is a file of commendations and praise for the team, they have found it really boosts morale by demonstarting that the work team members accomplished is of real benefit to all council staff, including those in other directorates.
The team also carried out a Staff Skills Audit and compiled the results into a spreadsheet that all team members can access. Winnie said: ‘It provides a knowledge base for team members to tap into when they need other support and information to carry out varying activities and it serves as a good capacity building exercise.’
BEST has brought the team closer together and helped team members value each other and the contribution each person makes, enabling everyone to have a good day!
BEST Leader: Jennifer Rogers Directorate: Development and Culture Team: The Cash Collection Team
The Cash Collection team, headed by Jennifer Rogers, recognised their BEST Workshop as a perfect time to look at their day to day working practices and improve the service they provide.
The team realised that they needed to have a better working system for collections at certain car parks which were quite a distance outside the City as often these machines were not emptied causing a myriad of problems including;
- cash machines shutting down because they were full
- customers becoming stressed or anxious about not knowing what to do when machines are full
- machines not issuing tickets and having to find alternative parking places
The team agreed and recommended that the collection schedule was changed to include additional collection times. The idea was put to Senior Management who agreed to trial the idea, after which they accepted that this change was for the benefit of customers, staff and income.
The staff took action and came up with a new way of working that would:
- Improve Customer Service
- Reduce Health and Safety risks to staff
- Ensure continued/increased revenue for BCC.
This change has also improved the working relationship of the team and boosted their morale.
BEST Leader: Peter Whitehouse and Sue Ritchie Directorate: Adults and Communities Team: Sutton Older Adults Social Work Team
When BEST was initially announced to the Sutton Older Adults Social Work Team, they were sceptical and thought ‘not another short lived, wasted initiative’, however once they had held their BEST Workshop and selected Peter Whitehouse and Sue Ritchie as joint BEST Leaders the team became more positive.
The team embraced the idea of suggesting changes to improve the way they work together as a team.
They said: ‘The BEST actions gave us the opportunity to work together with each other more closley, a main action this year was to improve links and partnership working in our local area.’
Each team member linked up with one or two organisations within and outside the council. These include vouluntary sector organisations such as SAFFA (forces), Parkinson’s Society, Leisure facilities for older adults, Carers Forum and Assisted Technology. The team regulary invites speakers from these organisations to team meetings, to help understand their working role in greater deatil, enabling the team to improve their partnership working and therefore the service that they provide to their customers.
The links the team has made through this action are ongoing and the team has developed folders that everyone has access to, giving specific information on the joint working intiative.
The work the team has produced through their BEST action also supports elements of thier PDR’s enabling them to reflect on their competencies in a creative and innovative way.