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.
Councillors will discuss the work needed to make Southend-on-Sea Borough Council an accredited Real Living Wage employer at the cabinet meeting next week (Tuesday 17 September).
The real living wage (currently £9 an hour) is calculated by the Resolution Foundation and is based on the cost of a basket of everyday goods as a way to benchmark living costs and is reviewed every November. It is more than the minimum wage, which is a national statutory requirement and is currently £7.70 an hour for under 25’s and £8.21 for over 25’s.
The lowest wage for a directly employed member of staff at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is £9 per hour, or £17,364 per annum, meaning the council is a real living wage employer. Now councillors will discuss next steps to obtain the Real Living Wage accreditation. In order to be accredited employer, the Council must pay all directly employed staff the Living Wage and have an agreed plan in place for third party contracted staff such as catering, cleaning, security, parks or ground staff.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “I am pleased that as a council all our directly employed staff receive a Real Living Wage, and we can now begin to discuss the work which needs to take place to get accreditation.
“This is not going to be easy, owing to the financial pressures on the council and businesses, but the people working in our town deserve a real living wage, and it is our job to show leadership.
“We want to be able to attract and retain excellent employees across all departments and services of the council and being an accredited real living wage employer will be an excellent standard upon which we can boost our reputation and attractiveness as a place to work.”
Benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer are:
· Helping tackle inequality and helping families to become more independent
· Encourage other organisations to become a Living Wage employer
· Enhanced reputation as an employer
· Better employee relationships
· Increased retention rates, especially with lower paid roles
· Improved recruitment and quality of candidates for roles
· Reduced sickness
· Better quality of contracted services
· Lower HR costs relating to the above
Councillors will discuss the implications of seeking accreditation and the impact this could have on introducing real living wages to the council’s arms length organisations (such as South Essex Homes), third party contractors (such as Veolia) and existing contracts.
The council is looking for up to fifty taxi drivers to take part in a study to help decide where four new rapid recharge points for electric taxis will be installed.
The four rapid electric chargers will be for the exclusive use of taxis, making it easier and more viable for taxis to be electric and help to improve air quality in and around the town.
The work follows the council successfully gaining a £90,000 grant from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in February this year. The grant is part of a £450,000 pot of funding for 17 charge points across the East of England region and part of the delivery of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy and Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, which aims to take advantage of innovation in UK engineering and technology to usher in cleaner, greener journeys.
Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, says: “Just like local households, taxi drivers need help and support to embrace the change to low emissions vehicles and particularly access to charging infrastructure, and I am pleased that this important piece of work is progressing.
“We need to know where best to put the four rapid chargers, and so consultation with the taxi trade has already begun.
“However, we are also seeking up to fifty volunteers to have a device fitted to their taxis for a month so that we can analyse the activity and identify the best locations for the chargers. These drivers will also receive a report showing how suitable electric vehicles would be for them and the savings they could make in their running costs.
“The study is due to start during October, so that we can choose locations, and then procure and install the chargers in the first half of 2020.”
The telematics device that would be installed tracks movements but is completely anonymised and will not show the council specific car or driver details.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, says: “Promoting better air quality for future generations is a priority for this administration and encouraging sustainable transport is one part of the puzzle. Taxis are relatively high mileage users, and therefore have specific charging needs and dedicated infrastructure to ensure they are able to top up their batteries.
“We hope that installing more rapid rechargers will make it easier for taxi drivers to consider making the switch.”
Taxi drivers interested in taking part in the study should contact Elo Knight, the council’s energy officer on 01702 212709 or via email email@example.com by Monday 14th October.
The project supports the council’s Air Quality Action Plan which was agreed locally and approved by DEFRA in June 2018 in response to high levels of nitrogen dioxide being recorded along the A127 between the Bell and Cuckoo Corner junctions in November 2016.
The air-quality data recorded by the council shows that the majority of air pollution is caused by vehicles, especially queuing vehicles, so focussing on transport would have the most immediate and beneficial impact and help support the Low Emission Strategy (LES) adopted by the council in December 2018.
Alongside the electric taxi project, the council is also looking to improve public charging infrastructure, to add to the 14 public charge points currently available.
External funding has been gained that should see the installation of least another 90 public charge points in the first few months of 2020 and another 80 more points through streetlights is being investigated.
More than 130 residents living on or near to the Queensway Estate attended a special invitation-only event to meet the organisations involved in the regeneration project.
Representatives from Swan Housing, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and South Essex Homes, who currently manage the site, were on hand to listen to the opinions, queries and concerns of those who know the site and community best.
Residents had the opportunity to express their views for the future on film at the event, which was held between 2pm and 6pm on Thursday 26 September, between three of the four tower blocks and in the Storehouse.
A steel band provided a musical backdrop, as residents enjoyed locally sourced fish and chips and ice cream. A small petting zoo, face painting and art competition was laid on for children.
One of the guests was Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, with a responsibility for housing and ward councillor for Victoria Ward, where Queensway is located. He said: “I’m pleased the event was family orientated because it encouraged people through the door and the activities meant the children were entertained so their parents could talk and give their views.
“This is such a vital project for the town, but not more so for the residents currently living here, whose future depends on us delivering a better Queensway. We can only do a good job and create an excellent scheme to submit for planning approval, if we have the views and backing of those directly involved and affected.”
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, also attended and added: “As the largest housing regeneration project the Council has even been involved in, it is important that the residents who currently live here are involved in the process as much as possible.
“It was encouraging to see and meet so many residents at the event, engaging with staff and giving their views. A project of this size takes time, but we need to get this right for local residents and the future of the town centre.”
In April 2019 contracts were signed between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Swan Housing as the preferred bidder for the regeneration project, which will see the demolition of the existing four tower blocks on the estate and creation of a new community much better connected to Southend town centre.
The aim of the Better Queensway scheme is to transform this area of central Southend into a vibrant new community with high quality housing and outdoor space, providing an attractive place for people of all ages to live, work, socialise and play.
John Synnuck, Chief Executive for Swan Housing, said: “Existing residents are the top priority for us. We wanted the opportunity to have this resident-only, focused event to help them realise that we need their expert input into the regeneration plans as they live on the estate and know it better than anyone.
“It was very important the event was family focused and offered everyone an opportunity to relax, have fun, but also discuss anything relating to the regeneration project. It was great to meet so many local people and it is exciting to think what this project will achieve.
“Our next step will be to launch a two-week design consultation period in October and November so local people can help us draw up the proposals for the site ready for further consultation in the New Year. We’re working with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to get plans in place for this project in 2020.”
The Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has claimed the council’s new administration will be “unrelenting in its resolve to tackle inequalities in the town”, after a national study into deprivation in England has shown that the Southend borough continues to be home to both the most and least deprived areas the country.
the English Index of Multiple Deprivation, published on Thursday by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, shows that the Borough of Southend includes nine of the 10% most deprived areas of England but also 13 of the least deprived.
The study measures deprivation by scoring seven “domains of deprivation”- namely income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment.
Commenting on the latest study, Leader of the council, Cllr Ian Gilbert, said: “This study shows that since the study was last conducted in 2015, the position in Southend has not changed greatly. We continue to have the many of the characteristics of a London Borough, with affluent and deprived areas cheek by jowl. As an administration, we will be unrelenting in our resolve to tackle inequalities in the town.
“Deprivation can impact on almost every aspect of a person’s life – it can shorten life expectancy, increase your chance of suffering poor health, see you living in substandard accommodation, and reduce your chances of succeeding at education and employment.
“Reducing this divide won’t happen overnight but it as an area where we are determined to make clear headway.
“We are committed to substantially increasing the provision of high quality council homes and affordable housing and already started buying properties across the town to help meet our social housing needs. Indeed, we our acquisition programme is already paying dividends and will see some families moving from temporary accommodation to new homes by Christmas.
“We are continuing to promote opportunity and prosperity by supporting schools and families to raise educational attainment standards. Indeed, GCSE and A-level results continue to be above the national average and showing year-on-year improvements. In addition to this, we are committed to reviewing and improving the use of our children’s centres across the borough.
“And we are ensuring the town remains an attractive destination for major employers through the development of the Airport Business Park, support services for small and start-up businesses and by rolling out a “full fibre” network through our partnership with CityFibre.
“We have recently committed to become a Real Living Wage employer, ensuring all directly employed council staff are paid in accordance with the cost of living today.
“We will also be working closer than ever before with our partners in the emergency services and health services to ensure we are helping wherever we can to keep our residents safe and well.”
What is the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)?
The Index of Multiple Deprivation, commonly known as the IMD, is the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas in England. It is the most widely used of the Indices of Deprivation. The Index of Multiple Deprivation ranks every small area in England from 1 (most deprived area) to 32,844 (least deprived area).
A senior councillor has temporarily suspended the non-emergency removal of all street trees in Southend and will bring in a new tree policy for the town by autumn.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, has ordered the immediate suspension in response to the large volume of correspondence she has received – both online and via social media - since coming into office last month from residents concerned about street trees being removed in the borough.
The council’s parks team will now work with Cllr Mulroney to draft a new trees policy, which will look at the ongoing management of the town’s much loved trees and best ways to continue to maintain them.
Cllr Mulroney said: “Street trees pose far more challenges than garden or park trees and there are genuine reasons why trees sometimes have to be removed and cannot always be replaced in the same place, such as the presence of underground cables and pipes which were never a consideration when the original trees were planted.
“The council has followed a policy of two-for-one replacement where practical when trees are removed. However, this is not always possible and over the past few years the numbers of street trees planted has been below this target and I believe greater resources are needed to increase planting.
“Removing trees is always the last resort and officers work on the principle of the 5Ds: namely they would only remove a tree that is dead, dying, diseased, decayed or dangerous. Structural damage to buildings or paths, or conditions of a planning permission may also require a tree to be removed.
“I intend to do everything possible to put the ‘tree’ back into ‘street’ and ensure the borough’s green canopy is maintained and improved.
“It will take a while to catch up and we will not be able to replace large trees like-for-like but every tree started as a sapling and they will grow!”
The removal of trees, apart from cases of emergency (where there is immediate risk to residents or property), insurance obligations and/or scheduled highway works, is suspended with immediate effect. Work on revising the council’s trees policy will now start with the aim of bringing forward the new policy by the autumn.
Over the coming weeks, the council will liaise with groups who have expressed concern to explain the processes of inspecting our street trees and the remedies we use to assist in their retention.
The council is working with colleagues at Public Health England (PHE) regarding a suspected measles outbreak in Southend-on-Sea involving eight people.
The eight all attend local day services for people with learning disabilities.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is in direct liaison with specialist health protection clinicians at Public Health England who are managing the suspected outbreak.
Collectively, we are adopting a precautionary approach to this situation to help interrupt any potential further spread.
As an immediate priority, and alongside our colleagues at the CCG and Southend Care (who run day services for people with learning disabilities), we are identifying and contacting those people who may have been directly exposed and are offering those people MMR vaccinations if they are not already immunised. At this time, we expect this offer will be made to approximately 200 people.
Southend Care have closed Project 49 in Alexandra Street for the rest of the week, and we have advised a small number of other day services in the area to close today (Wednesday 2nd October), as a precautionary measure.
Although it is only a suspected outbreak at this stage, we are adopting this precautionary approach at this time because of:
· the nature of the signs and symptoms presented
· the vulnerability of the group showing measles like symptoms
· the nature of measles (it is highly contagious)
Public Health England’s national advice to the public is to ensure that you and your family are up to date with all vaccinations included in the NHS national immunisation schedule.
This is the most effective method we all have for keeping ourselves safe and free from these potentially serious infections and diseases. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, your GP practice should be able to advise you of which vaccinations you may still need.
What are the signs and symptoms of measles?
The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after you're infected.
These can include:
cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
small greyish-white spots on the inside of the cheeks
A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck before spreading outwards to the rest of the body.
Bear in mind that most adults born before 1970 are likely to be immune because they have probably been exposed to measles already.
What should I do if I think I have these symptoms?
PHE advises people with symptoms of measles to:
Stay away from school, nursery or work until four days have elapsed after the onset of a rash.
Telephone your GP or NHS walk-in centre before attending so that arrangements can be made for you to be treated in a separate area to prevent spread to other vulnerable patients.
Avoid contact with people generally, but particularly babies, pregnant women and anyone who is known to have poor immunity to infection.
It is important to stress that this is a suspected outbreak
10 roads to shine brighter thanks to more street lighting
Sixty new LED lampposts will be installed across five Southend streets this autumn, thanks to funding added to the budget by the council’s new joint administration.
The roads to benefit from additional street lighting will be Lymington Avenue, Oakleigh Park Drive, Leighton Avenue, St John’s Road and Ruskin Avenue.
These works are being funded through an additional £125,000 that was added to the council’s budget in July 2019. A further £125,000 has also been budgeted to continue infill works in 2020/21.
The upcoming autumn work follows the installation of thirty-six new LED lampposts in Crowstone Road, Pembury Road, Stornoway Road, Northville Drive and The Crossways. Connections for the lampposts in Northville Road and The Crossways are programmed this month.
Cllr Ron Woodley, deputy leader of the council, says: “The ambitious project to replace Southend-on-Sea’s street lighting with LED lighting has proven a major success, with carbon emission and energy bills reducing.
“LED lighting provides a different kind of light though, and since the work was completed, councillors and officers have been working with local people to identify a number of roads that require further lampposts to be installed to improve the light coverage and safety for local communities.
“The new administration was delighted to add £250,000 to the council’s capital budget to carry out work this year and next, and we are already looking at funding for the years beyond that too so that we can carry out further infill works where it is required.”
The £13.5m project to replace all of Southend-on-Sea’s 15,000 streetlights with LED’s started in August 2015 and was completed in August 2017. Along with reducing carbon emissions, the project is also set to save £25m over 25 years.
A public information telephone line has been set up by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s public health team, following the news that the council and Public Health England are dealing with one confirmed and a further seven suspected cases of measles in Southend-on-Sea.
Members of the public can call 01702 837890 and speak to clinically trained staff if they have any queries or concerns about the current situation that cannot be answered by visiting www.nhs.uk
The line is open from Midday today (Thursday) until 6pm and then from 8am to 6pm on Friday.
If you are unsure whether you or your child are up-to-date with measles vaccinations, you should contact your GP, who will hold this information.