UNISON has launched its hugely popular local service champions awards again this year.
UNISON is a UK based public service trade union. The local service champions award is open to UK based local authority staff.
We all know that local government is the glue that holds our communities together. It is fundamental to every stage of our lives and provides an ongoing, everchanging public service – now more than ever.
Yet unlike the NHS, people have been less likely to defend it against cuts. The efforts of local government workers to keep the country going throughout the pandemic have not always been visible and can be easily overlooked.
Local government staff have kept vital services running, often putting themselves and their families at risk. They have volunteered to be redeployed to help with everything from delivering food parcels and medicines, assisting local efforts to test and trace, to helping with the vaccination effort.
That’s why UNISON has launched its #LocalServiceChampions campaign. We want to celebrate the invaluable contribution local authority staff make to our lives.
The awards are hugely popular with staff and we are calling for nominations for any worker who provides a local government service. It doesn’t matter whether they are directly employed by a council or not. Nominations in the past have included refuse workers, care assistants, librarians, trading standards officers, environmental health inspectors, youth workers, cleaners and administrators. Every role matters and any role is in with a chance of winning!
Jenny Evans – Last year’s winner
Last year’s winner was Jenny Evans, a senior customer services representative at Frodsham Library, in Cheshire.
Jenny has worked in libraries for forty years and said: “I started at 16 and was taken on permanently in October 1979, and I haven’t stopped working. I still have that buzz and enthusiasm, and I just want everyone else to have that.”
Her colleague, Amanda Baron, who nominated Jenny commented: “Jenny is a champion of the community. She has transformed the library into the community hub it was meant to be. She has read stories to generations of children who now bring their own children to story time.
And Ms Baron continued: “She focuses and adapts services when possible to provide essential help to the public. And when we can’t help, she always knows someone who can.”
Recognition for local government
Jenny’s inspiring story is testament to the dedication of so many local government workers who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. The role they play in keeping us safe, healthy and cared for must be celebrated – but also fairly rewarded.
While UNISON continues to call for a decent pay award for council and school staff, we are also arguing strongly for a fairer funding settlement for local government from Westminster. And we’re proud that our Local Service Champions Awards remind everyone of the vital role local government workers play and the importance of our local services.
We’re shouting loud and proud because we believe that people are the backbone of council services. It’s crucial that with reductions in local government funding, we defend the work they do and build resilient communities. Vital local services are being cut. Let’s make sure everyone knows what they stand to lose.
How to nominate a champion
If you know a champion, as equally deserving as Jenny, nominate them now and help make their day. There are prizes for the winner and two runners up.
Nominations close on Friday 4 February. You can help spread the word using the hashtag #LocalServiceChampions.
Sarah Pearce is UNISON’s Assistant National Office.
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