Admin Assistant Alana is Employee of the Year
Alana Brown, an Admin Assistant with the Council’s Care and Learning Service working as part of the Multi-Agency Public Protection team (MAPPA) has been voted Employee of the Year at The Highland Council’s 2017 Quality Awards.
Alana’s colleagues have praised the way in which she deals with the pressure and confidential nature of her work and how she resolves issues and sets an example for others to follow. They particularly highlight her positive and very focussed attitude, her initiative and commitment and her dependable way of dealing with complex procedures and policies.
Alana has faced a great deal of change in her job over the last few years and has fully embraced new opportunities. VISOR is the national database used to keep up to date information and intelligence on registered sex offenders and serious violent offenders. Alana is currently one of only four trained ViSOR trainers for the system in Scotland.
The Council’s MAPPA Co-ordinator Ron Lyon, who has worked with Alana for nine years, highlights the special personal and professional qualities Alana brings to her role. He says: “Alana is dependable, efficient, and I have never worked with a person who gives as much attention to detail as she does. She also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to our partner agencies who fully endorsed her nomination. We have all seen her resolve conflicts and handle difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact. I believe these characteristics represent all that is good in our council, and I am delighted on behalf of the whole MAPPA team she has the honour of being Employee of the Year 2017.
Chair of MAPPA, DCI Vincent Mclaughlin adds: “Alana has strongly supported me in my role as Chair with her administrative diligence, patience and ability to co-ordinate and manage multiple tasks. She plays an integral part of the full MAPPA team. Nothing is ever too much effort for her and she is always willing to assist above and beyond her role, especially when significant issues arise.
James Maybee, The Council’s Principal Officer for Criminal Justice also praised Alana. He said: “There are not many employees of Alana’s calibre in any organisation. Her dedication and professionalism shine through. She gives her job her full undivided attention and raises the standards of all of those around her simply by doing what she does.”
Alana was presented with her award from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson, at a ceremony held last night in Inverness Town House. The Awards, sponsored by Viridor, Zurich Municipal, Tusker, E-On Energy and Hub North Scotland, were hosted by Highlands & Islands reporter for STV news Nicola McAlley.
Also short-listed for Employee of the Year for their outstanding contributions were Linda Smith, an Administration Assistant based in Inverness Town House and Roads Inspector Yvonne Low.
Linda is the link between the Housing Service and the Council’s Legal Department, in particularly in relation to court actions. As well as checking and collating complex and detailed information, Linda prepares court paperwork, ensuring it all complies with the Housing (Scotland) Acts and also co-ordinates discussions between many third party organisation and council services.
In his nomination, Council Solicitor James Noone said: “Linda clearly fulfils and goes beyond what is expected of her role. Not only is she able to provide excellent work with minimal supervision in an area of law which many lawyers find confusing, but she is constantly striving to streamline or improve the efficiency of all processes.”
Roads Inspector Yvonne Low was nominated by colleagues who praised her conscientious approach to work, the professional way she carries out road inspections and completes reports and her diplomatic and approachable manner when dealing with the public.
Roads Operation Manager for the Inverness Area John Taylor says: “I speak for all of Yvonne’s colleagues when I say not only is she very committed and highly skilled when carrying out her own duties but she is also very dependable and supportive to everyone in the team.”
Communities across the Highlands were invited to nominate Council staff who they felt deserved special recognition and the first Community Award of the evening went to Liz Robertson who was nominated by Kirkhill and Bunchrew Community Council.
In 1997 Liz started work at Kirkhill Nursery as an assistant and now 20 years on she is working as an Early Years Practitioner with the next generation of children.
Karen Young from the Community Council said: “Liz has a wonderful way with children and treats each one as an individual. She makes them feel inspired and creates an atmosphere they love. She is a truly inspirational person who we feel deserves special recognition for her role within Kirkhill Primary and our community.”
Engineer Colin Ross was nominated by Strathnairn Community Council for his support during the B852 road improvements through Farr and the surrounding countryside. The community particularly highlight Colin’s ability to understand their aspirations, his diligence and ability to listen.
They say: “We have great admiration for the effort Colin has put in from attending public and community council meetings, to making sure people have been fully informed as the proposals developed. He has been instrumental in understanding our aspirations and delivering improvements to the road with the minimum of impact to road users.”
The third Community Award went to Assistant Ward Manager for Lochaber, Emma Tayler. Company Secretary of Voluntary Action Lochaber Flora McKee said: “Emma goes the extra mile to support our Board and her support and guidance has greatly helped many of us. She is organised, knowledgeable empathetic, friendly and has a good sense of humour. We class ourselves as lucky to have someone with her qualities in a key role in Lochaber. She is a true ambassador for Highland Council.”
The Team of the Year award went to the Council’s Election Team. Ably assisted by staff from across all services and colleagues from the Electoral Registrations and Assessor’s office, the team have had an exceptional year during which they’ve demonstrated outstanding professionalism, determination, commitment and enthusiasm that has allowed them to meet the challenge of delivering two major elections in the space of just five weeks.
The team’s preparation and approach for the Council elections in May drew particular praise from the Electoral Commission for the attention to detail and the publication of a count booklet that was described by the Commission as ‘the best in Scotland’.
The announcement of a ‘snap’ General Election in April meant the team had just 5 weeks to cram in what would normally be 5 to 6 months of preparation on top of the Council election work. This presented a huge logistical challenge to staff already fully stretched but the team rose to the challenge and with minimum notice all arrangements were in place and both elections successfully delivered.
The 2017 Trainee of the Year is mechanic Kyle Dempster from the Council’s workshop in Fort William where he works as part of a team keeping the fleet of heavy vehicles on the road.
Kyle’s enthusiasm and potential has impressed his colleagues. Speaking on behalf of everyone in the Fort William workshop, Foreman Sandy MacDonald who himself started as an apprentice mechanic with the Council 39 years ago says: “Kyle is very courteous to all members of staff and the public. He is a keen conscientious worker who can work on his own initiative and clearly understands the role of the team. We all enjoy training Kyle as he is eager to learn and practise his new skills. He is a real asset to us and we wish him well for the rest of his apprentice training.”
Teams of Council staff were invited to enter projects into four categories and all short-listed entries were assessed by an independent judging panel. During the Award Ceremony, the four category winners were announced. The winning team projects for the following categories were:
- Enabling a Community-led Highland Listening to community bodies on how to support more community-run services – a project led by the CEX Service all about finding out what needs to be done differently to support community-run services in Highland
- Delivering for a well-served Highland Public Wi-Fi (Ness & Highland WiFi) – a project to design and deliver fast, reliable and safe internet access led by the Council and funded by the Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal.
- Achieving a fairer Highland Peddiston Poly Tunnels Project – launched last year the project works with ex-offenders to improved their employability prospects by teaching new skills and fostering a positive work ethic with learning taking place in the outdoors.
- Delivering Efficiency, Income & Service Improvement Digital First - A project by Corporate Resources to increase the number of customer transactions carried out online, improve efficiency and provide a better experience for customers.
The Outstanding Partnership Award went to ASPIRE - Autism Strategies for Parents to Improve Relationships and Experiences – which uses Video interaction to deliver a unique evidence-based training programme to parents of autistic children. This ground-breaking partnership between the Council’s psychological services, The Pines autism team, parents and their children means ASPIRE is unique, effective and can be delivered in-house flexibly to families across the Highlands.
An Environmental Advice and Consultancy Team from the Development and Infrastructure Service won the Convener’s Award. In the team’s first 12 months they have created a fully operational in-house consultancy service that has advised on over 900 planning applications. As well as been in high demand, the team is providing a high quality, efficient and cost effective service. Its income target (set at £50k) has been exceeded by 60% and it is estimated that the team now save the Council in the region of 50-60% for environmental advice and survey work.
Speaking during the ceremony to congratulate staff for their hard work and success, the Convenor of the Council, Councillor Bill Lobban said: “There is a lot of excellent work taking place which is not only achieving significant financial savings to the Council, but is leading the way nationally and reinforcing our reputation across Scotland as a forward-thinking and very pro-active local authority. Your energy, professionalism, skills and the great enthusiasm for the work you do is greatly appreciated by us all.”
Guests were entertained by young musicians from the Highland Regional Music Groups. First on stage was the Dingwall Academy Senior String Ensemble, directed by Rachel Farmer. Next to perform was Golspie group - Baile an Or – who played a lively set of traditional music and the final group of the evening was a Wind Ensemble with tutors Judy Kyle and Anna Alders.
Council Leader, Margaret Davidson drew the evening to a close by thanking staff. She said: “Congratulations to each and every one of you – individuals and teams alike - for all your tremendous work. It really has been heartening to hear how everyone is pulling together and putting such energy, expertise and enthusiasm into their jobs.
“Tonight has been the ideal opportunity to shine the spotlight on the high quality services delivered by you all. I strongly believe that we are one of the most inventive and efficient Councils in Scotland and the strength of our performance lies in the quality of the people who work for us. Your commitment, skills, experience and good-will makes things happen and the Council, and our communities, are all the better for your hard work and drive.”