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.
Council owned tower blocks are set to be fitted with sprinkler systems.
Cabinet councillors will receive a fire safety update at their meeting next week (Cabinet, Tuesday 25th February). They will be asked to agree that one tower block has a sprinkler system installed as part of a pilot project, followed by a full programme of installations across high rise blocks.
It is thought that sprinkler installation would cost around £400,000 for each tower block, but this will be tested through the pilot project.
The report details how South Essex Homes, who manage the council’s housing, have carried out a number of fire safety works including a review of fire doors, floor levelling and the installation of photo-luminescent signage. Ongoing maintenance of fire doors will continue as these are unfortunately damaged and vandalised regularly.
An evacuation alert system will also be installed at Longbow and then rolled out across all tower blocks. The report also confirms that a contractor is being appointed to undertake some type 4 fire risk assessments in one tower block, and these are expected to start in spring 2020.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “Fire safety in our council homes is a top priority of this joint administration and I am pleased to recommend that this pilot project takes place, with the intention that a full programme is carried out across council owned tower blocks.
“A full programme will require a large amount of coordination and investment, but I believe that this work is important to both ensure the safety of our residents and provide the high level reassurance they need and deserve.
“The impending appointment of a contractor to do level 4 risk assessment on some council owned homes is also very welcome and I look forward to this work going forwards.”
Fire safety works also continue at other council owned buildings, including fire compartmentation, means of escape, fire information and alarm systems.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, says: “Along with the important fire safety work being carried out by South Essex Homes, there is also a substantial amount of work taking place in other buildings we own and that many residents and visitors use and value.
“Work taking place at the Cliffs Pavilion is due to be completed by the end of March, and I am pleased to confirm that in 2020/21, there will be work carried out at the Palace Theatre and museum buildings, Southend Tennis and Leisure Centre, the Civic Centre, branch libraries and Southend Adult Community College.”
The full report is available to view here (agenda item 3): https://democracy.southend.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=3428&Ver=4
Southend-on-Sea’s crematorium is set to be refurbished to ensure a high quality cremation service can continue for the next 25 years.
Cabinet will discuss the proposed plans on 25 February 2020. If approved, the refurbishment will include rebuilding the chimney which is in need of structural work; reconfiguring the front areas to include a viewing area to accommodate a range of faiths; and replacing ageing equipment with more environmentally friendly electric alternatives.
The crematorium was constructed in 1953, with some of the major equipment last replaced in 2000, and some in 2010. The layout of the building is in need of alteration and modernisation, and following structural surveys it has been recommended that works are carried out on the roof and the chimney stack is rebuilt.
Other recommended work includes:
· Looking at the practicality of changing from gas to electric cremators
· Replacing the three existing cremators and associated equipment
· Reconfiguring the ‘back of house’ area to accommodate new equipment and allow better working
· Resurfacing the car park.
If approved, the project could cost up to £2.7m. This would be funded from the council’s capital budget.
Councillor Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for the environment and planning said: “These works would ensure we can continue to provide a high quality service to the people of Southend-on-Sea to help them through a very difficult time in their lives.
Although the chapels are in good order, the equipment we use is in urgent need of replacement and we are very keen to explore more environmentally friendly options. If we weren’t to replace it, or carry out works on the chimney and structure of the building, we would be putting the future of the crematorium service at risk which is clearly not an option.
“Our population has grown enormously since the crematorium was constructed in the 1950s. The upgrade of our facilities will give our staff the behind-the-scenes space and layout they need, and it will give the public a better and more inclusive service, fitting for 2020 and beyond.”
A survey is looking to find out what the people of Southend want from an independent health and social care watchdog.
Healthwatch are the independent champion for people who use health and social care services and are in place to make sure that those running services put people at the heart of care. The organisation does this by receiving and collecting information from the public. This data is then used to influence, shape and challenge any issues, to get services right for the future.
Healthwatch is set up in two distinct ways; at a national and a local level. The current Healthwatch Southend contract (the local level for the borough of Southend-on-Sea) is due to end and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are particularly keen to engage its residents, to ensure a new service meets the needs of the community, as well as to use people’s views to shape the service going forward.
A survey is available for all people in Southend to take, to let their voice be heard. This questionnaire has been devised in two parts. The first section is for people who have used Healthwatch Southend and who can help the council understand how the current service model is working; and the second part is for everyone (including those of you who have not used the service).
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “Healthwatch are available to listen to what people like about health and social care services and what they think could be improved. No matter how big or small the issue, they want to hear about it. If you live in the borough of Southend-on-Sea, please ensure you complete this survey which will be used to shape the future of the ser vice”.
The survey can be taken here: https://consult.southend.gov.uk/kms/elab.aspx?noip=1&CampaignId=816
Council staff are urging the public to be kind after a spate of recent attacks on council staff and contractors, including an incident where a cyclist rode into a council officer and broke his leg.
The incident took place in Southend High Street on Thursday 26 March when the cyclist rode straight at a community safety patrol officer. The incident was captured on CCTV and police are investigating.
It is the latest in a line of incidents where council officer’s including park groundskeepers, civil enforcement officers and community safety patrol officers, have also received verbal abuse, been spat at and pushed, by members of the public.
The work of those teams is therefore being reviewed daily, with an announcement on changes to parks maintenance expected soon.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer care, said: “This is unacceptable behaviour from certain individuals within our community. I hope the police are quick to catch the offending cyclist and any other perpetrators using the full force of the law to protect our workers.
“I understand that people staying home feel like other workers should not be on the streets, but our staff are simply doing their job as per the national guidance issued. They have been keeping the streets and parks safe and in good order, so our residents can continue to use them, whilst following the Government’s social distancing guidelines.
If you witness an attack on anyone please report this to the police, online at essex.police.uk or call 101. If the attack is ongoing and an emergency, dial 999.
The mayor and leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council have extended a heartfelt thank you to all the council staff and volunteers who have helped deliver essential services over the past week.
Staff have been praised for working 24/7 to make sure all residents within the borough are safe and provided for, while the country tackles coronavirus.
This includes hundreds of food parcels delivered to the most vulnerable in our community, hundreds of volunteers registering to help out in their community, several prescriptions delivered, two dogs walked and an army of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and South Essex Homes staff who have worked over the weekend and into the night, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Thank you to Waitrose too, who stepped in at the last moment to top up supplies for the food parcels delivered over the weekend.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “I am bowled over by the way our community has drawn together to help those most vulnerable. I am equally impressed and humbled by the quick-action, thoughtful behaviour and tireless commitment of the council staff and South Essex Homes staff.
“We have staff operating the helpline, collecting and delivering food parcels, coordinating food donations, liaising with community and voluntary sectors to make sure there is a joint up response and making sure the needs of every single person in the borough is accounted for.”
The adult social care team have also been working with medical staff at Southend Hospital to successfully discharge those who are medically fit to return home, freeing up space within the hospital for those who need a bed.
Also, the community safety patrol unit are still patrolling, working with our colleagues in Essex Police to make sure the streets remain safe and that people are complying with social distancing guidelines.
The Worshipful the Mayor, Cllr John Lamb, added: “I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those whose job places them on the frontline, or who have volunteered to step into the breech and help out during this national crisis. I would also like to thank the many hundreds of our staff who have switched to a completely new way of working in just over one week and have put in a tremendous effort keeping all of our vital day to day services running wherever possible too.
“Many of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, South Essex Home staff and all our volunteers gave up time with their families over the weekend, to help the most vulnerable in our community who need help and support at this tough time. I think they all deserve our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for their hard work which I’m certain will continue in the days and weeks ahead.”
An agreement has been reached between Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Citizen Housing LLP and Southend United Football Club, enabling the redevelopment of Roots Hall for 502 new homes for rent, and the delivery of a new stadium at Fossetts Farm - with new homes proposed to replace an out-of-town retail development.
The stadium at Fossetts Farm would be enabled by around 800 homes for rent through the agreement with the Council, and potentially hundreds more homes through a separate joint venture between Citizen Housing LLP and a third party. There would also be other facilities such as a health centre, convenience store and a community hub at Fossetts Farm.
All the housing delivered with the Council would be for rent including 30% at affordable rent levels. The agreement would also secure an important long-term income for the Council.
Plans for both of the Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm sites are subject to the planning process.
The proposals have the provisional backing of Homes England in the form of a significant investment loan to finance infrastructure and fund the stadium construction on the basis that a substantial quantity of new housing will be built. It is proposed that the first phase of the new stadium comprises 14,000 seats.
The revised plans will remove the threat of major out-of-town competition to the town centre. This change will provide a confidence boost for businesses, landlords and investors in the town centre and on the High Street in particular.
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “This is really very significant news for all of us. I am very pleased that despite the current difficult circumstances we have been able to move this forward.
“The Council has been working closely with the football club over an extended period to move this project forwards and I am pleased to see that we have got to this stage, which subject to the planning process, would not only see much needed new homes built, but also take away the threat to the town centre from the previously proposed retail element.
“We need to build more homes as a Borough, we want more affordable rented homes, we need to generate more income into the council to fund local services and we are seeing more than ever how essential these services are. We have always recognised the importance of the football club to the Borough and we now have the opportunity to enable them to deliver their new stadium and secure the Club’s future. So this is a win-win situation.”
“I therefore look forward to moving ahead with this and working with the football club on these exciting and transformational plans.”
Citizen Housing specialises in partnering with both the public sector and landowners to deliver housing-led regeneration schemes. Citizen’s development model is strongly focussed on the delivery of much needed affordable housing.
Jack Martin, spokesman for Citizen Housing said: “This major public-private partnership will deliver high quality, sustainable housing that will cater for the needs of the local community. Under the proposed plans, the partnership will deliver c.400 new affordable homes on the two sites. These will be available for rent at truly affordable levels along with many homes for private rent. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Homes England, to bring these two exciting projects to fruition.”
The Chairman of SUFC, Ron Martin, said: “We listened to the Council’s concerns, in particular, the impact of the proposed enabling retail development on the town centre. The collaborative approach achieved with the Council, together with our other partners, will deliver a project that I believe the people of Southend-on-Sea will be very proud of. We are delighted for all our supporters that this agreement will unlock the delivery of Southend United’s new home, enabling the Club to fulfil its long held potential.”
The proposed arrangement has been signed by all four Group Leaders, as part of governance arrangements put in place to ensure that key council business can continue through the Coronavirus outbreak and whilst the council awaits further legislation from Government to allow virtual meetings. Cabinet will consider the matter further before the agreements are completed but the next stage of work can now progress.
The crematorium grounds and cemetery churches, both on Sutton Road, closed to public access yesterday (Wednesday 1 April) as the council continues to follow Government regulations around Coronavirus.
Funerals and cremations will go ahead as planned, and bookings can still be made. However, to support staying home and supporting the Government’s social distancing instructions, the council has restricted access to the sites whilst measures are in place. Only funeral directors, funeral corteges and essential contractors will be allowed access.
The churches in the grounds of the cemetery will be closed until further notice and any memorial or remembrance services for funerals and cremations, including those already booked, will only be allowed in the west and south chapels at the crematorium.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: ““This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and having just lost a dear friend myself I sympathise with anyone who is going through a bereavement during these times. However, we must all ensure we follow Government regulations and unfortunately, closing our crematorium and cemetery is necessary.
“It is important to note that services can and will still go ahead, but please be aware that social distancing measures will be in place for these services. If you have any queries regarding a service you have planned, please get in touch and we will support you as best we can.”
Those who are unable to attend a funeral can make arrangement to view the service online, which the council is offering for free during the COVID-19 restrictions. Your funeral director will be able to organise this for you.
For up to date information, please visit www.southend.gov.uk/alteredservices