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[email protected]   - editor David Wilson  07714772707 -   Journalist, [email protected]     07917730238



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The importance of human relationships was the focus of World Social Work Day at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

World Social Work Day on Tuesday 19 March is a worldwide celebration of social work and its importance and it comes after Southend-on-Sea adult social care team came second nationally for providing value for taxpayer’s money.

 Research carried out by iMPOWER, measured performance against outcomes, per pound invested. In other words, the study assesses the effective use of adult social care budgets to offer residents the services they need, with a good success rate.

 After evaluating 25 indicators including older people, all age disability and health and social care interface, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council came second nationally, behind Redbridge Council.

Cllr Tony Cox, cabinet member for adult services and housing, said: “Supporting our most vulnerable people to lead fulfilling lives is something we take pride in and are absolutely committed to, and we are therefore delighted with this result.


“Like all local authorities we face challenges and pressures in this area, providing excellent services within restrictive budgets. This detailed iMPOWER research clearly demonstrates that we are spending our resources carefully and effectively and delivering real results for local people across a number of areas in adult social care.”


Just one of the innovative schemes introduced at Southend and celebrated as part of World Social Work Day is the low to moderate multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDT). The weekly meetings involve social workers, NHS staff, police, mental health workers, voluntary groups, community groups, local charities and more. Anyone can refer into the MDT and since its introduction two years ago, the team has worked together to support hundreds of people in situations where if there had not been intervention, could have escalated to a crisis point.


Mark Carrigher, community social work practice lead, explains: “By being involved earlier, we are making sure the person has the right care and support in place for their needs, at that time. It’s a new way of working because it focuses on prevention and places the person at the centre.


“For example, we helped one very lonely and vulnerable man, who kept inviting strangers into his house simply for company. He was referred into the MDT because of the recurring safeguarding issues. We assigned him an advocate, built up his trust and found out what he really wanted was to be reunited with his estranged family. We supported him with this and he is now living near them on the south coast and is much happier and safer.”


The team also showed their partnership working with a case referred to the MDT by the person’s sister who was increasingly worried about her brother’s mental health and quality of living. After the MDT’s intervention, he and his family were given the support they needed to address his mental health issues and he has slowly recovered. But the support continued, getting the man back into his previous self-employment role with the help of the mental health employment navigators.


Mental health employment navigators are another tool being used by the adult social care team to boost social care support.


The two navigator roles are funded for 12-months by the Department of Work and Pensions, but are provided by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and they use their knowledge and awareness of local services to support people with all sorts of mental wellbeing issues to get back into work.


Jo Tunstill and Unity Hewson started as navigators just before Christmas 2018 and deal with referrals from social workers, charities, self-referrals and partner organisations, to assess a person’s needs and help them access the support services they require. They are also available for drop-in sessions at places like the St Luke’s Hub, Victoria Hub, Shoeburyness Library, the Attic and others.


Jo said: “This is a new role, and I feel like we have been able to make it our own. We work together, make home visits, run drop-in sessions and are on hand at the job centre. Our role is to connect with people, get them to understand that we want to help and support them. We don’t want to force people with mental health issues into jobs where they might not be able to cope. But we do want to help prepare them and make sure they are getting access to all the support they need so when they feel able to, they can get back into work. And most of the people we see, want to work.”


Unity added: “The idea is by encouraging them to take small steps to make changes, it will lead onto bigger and better things. We are very flexible in our approach as we appreciate that everyone is different and sometimes mental health issues such as anxiety or paranoia, can prevent people from readily accepting help. But we’re persistent and I think it helps that we’re genuine, we care and we don’t just leave people to it. We follow up with them.”


Cllr Cox added: “The schemes the adult social care team have introduced, including the MDT and mental health employment navigators is why we earned second place in the iMPOWER league. They are innovative schemes that are designed to step in and help a person before they reach crisis.


“There is the help and support out there but often, people don’t know who to ask or where to turn to. By getting out there in the community, working with partner organisations and sharing information between professionals, we are able to provide a service which can be tailored to each individual, giving them the best care and support we can. World Social Work Day will also help highlight the work being done and give the teams the recognition they deserve, for what is a demanding job. ”


In the agreed budget for 2019/20, £5.7m has been set aside to ensure the council can meet the many demands and cost pressures being faced in adults and children’s services now and into the future, deal with the impact of the living wage and invest in continuing to transform these services. These investments will be funded through the adult social care precept, the new social care grant and increased resources from the Better Care Fund (BCF).


Click here to read more about the iMPOWER report.



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Small businesses across Southend-on-Sea are being encouraged to get involved in a festive competition, which could win them a free promotional video worth £500.

  For the eighth consecutive year, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has launched the ‘Best Festive Business’ competition, which aims to encourage small businesses across the Borough to decorate their windows or offices with their best Christmas decorations to be in with the chance of winning a free promotional video, created by Blatella Films, worth up to £500.

 Businesses must submit a photo to @BusinessOnSea on Facebook via messenger or by emailing [email protected] for a chance to win the prize. All entry photos - limited to one per business - will be posted on the Business-on-Sea Facebook page for the public to vote for their favourite display. The picture with the most likes will win the promotional film. Entries are now being accepted, and voting goes live on Thursday 3 December and closes at midnight Sunday 20 December. One lucky voter will also be randomly selected to receive a £100 shopping voucher for a local shop of their choice.

 The competition has been developed as part of the Shop Local, Shop Southend-on-Sea campaign, and coincides with Southend-on-Sea entering the new Tier 2 restrictions.

  Additionally, Southend Christmas market returns to Southend High Street on Thursday 3 December. The market, which consists of the regular general market traders as well as a selection of Christmas concessions, will be open every Thursday and Saturday from Thursday 3 December, and every day from Monday 14 - Thursday 24 December. Stalls will offer festive food and treats, fashion and accessories, plants and garden ornaments, homeware, jewellery, as well as crochet and personalised embroidery items, to name but a few.

 If you are interested in setting up a stall within the Southend Christmas market, please visit

 Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, culture and tourism, said: “This has been a really difficult year for all of us, but I know that Christmas can be a special time of year and I hope that local businesses get involved in the competition. It’s a bit of fun, and having the chance of winning a promotional film in these challenging times could prove very beneficial, so why not get involved?

  “I look forward to seeing the wonderful displays and I hope local residents will also get involved by liking their favourite designs. There’s a possible £100 voucher for one lucky voter, so make sure you take a look at the page over the coming days.

  “It’s also fantastic news to hear that the ever-popular Christmas market is set to return from Thursday, all the way up until Christmas Eve. The various food and shopping stalls will provide a welcome boost to the town centre and will create some Christmas cheer for our residents and visitors, so please do enjoy it safely.”


Deck the shops with decorations – Best Festive Business returns

ppers are being encouraged to “Shop Local” and support Southend-based businesses in the run up to Christmas.

  In preparation for the expected rush of Christmas shoppers to the town’s shops, the council has been working closely with local businesses across the Borough to offer a boost to the local economy following a challenging time for businesses up and down the country. As part of these plans, the council is promoting the following:

  The relaunch of ‘Shop Local’ campaign, which coincides with the change in the Government’s national restrictions and sees Southend entering the new Tier 2 restrictions. Whilst observing social distancing and other safety measures such as wearing face coverings, shoppers are being encouraged to visit their local shops. Shoppers are asked to promote their support for local businesses on social media, using #ShopLocal / #ShopSouthendonSea, and tag the local shops you have visited.

   Shopping locally via the Click and Collect service featured on the VisitSouthend website. The council has been working with partners and key stakeholders to develop a business directory where businesses in the Borough can sign up for free if they offer a click and collect service. Shoppers can easily navigate through the list and shop with local traders.

Cllr Kevin Robinson, cabinet member for business, growth and tourism, said: “We are doing everything we can to provide the support our local businesses need. I am pleased to see that free parking is once again available for residents and visitors after 4pm on Thursdays, to support late night shopping, and all-day Sundays in December and this year this will be in all council-owned car parks across the Borough.

  “The council has been meeting regularly with key representatives from the main shopping areas to find out how we can work more closely together, and to provide support and promote our local shops and businesses. I would ask all visitors to ensure they adhere to guidance around social distancing and sanitise hands when entering and leaving the stores to help prevent the spread of the virus.

 “I also hope that all of our local businesses that are able to provide a click and collect service, sign up to the directory, and I hope local residents make use of this too and support local businesses.”


If you are interested in getting involved in the business meetings, please email [email protected] for details.

Shop Local this Christmas and support local businesses