Care and Learning clerical is council’s employee of the year

Lauren with her award

Lauren Clark, a clerical assistant with Throughcare and Aftercare, a small team that supports young people in care move into independence, has been named as The Highland Council’s Employee of the Year. She received her prize from Council Leader Councillor Drew Hendry at the Council's annual Quality Awards held last night at the Town House, Inverness.

Lauren’s nomination was made by her line manager Linda MacLennan-Shareef, and endorsed by Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning.

She was commended for qualities of resourcefulness, professionalism, her “can do” attitude, as well as for putting the needs of young people, at what can be a traumatic time of change, as her priority.

Linda MacLennan-Shareef wrote: “Lauren on a daily basis goes well beyond the expectations of her role, dealing with children and young people both on the telephone and face to face in a calm and caring manner, even when they are upset and distressed. As well as using her skills to provide support and deal with any issues quickly and efficiently, she makes sure all financial issues are dealt with promptly and  has devised systems which allows the young people to concentrate on their work and studies without worrying over whether bills have been paid or not

“She also arranges for our young people to attend conferences and events and ensures their travel and accommodation is in place and they have money for incidentals.  She is their point of contact for emergencies or just a friendly known voice on the end of the phone.  The value of this cannot be underestimated as our young people may not have parents or family to assist them with these tasks. 

She adds: “Lauren offers to help her colleagues and others to ensure that the service is delivered in an efficient and professional manner. She is one of the most helpful and professional colleagues I have ever worked with, where her priority is our young people and making sure they are receiving the best service possible.”  

Also short-listed for Employee of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the Council were Stewart Hiddleston, Assistant Trading Standards Officer and Mike Bryce from the Community Services street cleansing team who works in Inverness City Centre.

A team and two individual members of staff received awards for being commended by their Community Council for special recognition.

The team who carry out the waste collection service on a Thursday to Strathglass, Michael George Taylor and Michael Howlett, were commended by Strathglass Community Council for the excellent year-round service they provide.  

Environmental Health Officer Gregor MacCormick was commended by Kilmorack Community Council for his work with the community to identify those affected by the noise issues from the Wester Balblair sub-station and to make sure their concerns were addressed.   

Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council commended David Charnley from Farr High School for devoting his time, skills and energy to creating a strong technical hub at the school and for inspiring pupils, many of whom have gone on to have considerable successes.   

Team of the Year went to the Council’s Housing Debt Team which was set up in 2010 to improve the collection of former tenant arrears, former tenant court charges, repair recharges and void recharges. The team have greatly improved the Council’s performance, so much so that Highland is now the sixth most efficient local authority in Scotland for managing this type of debt and last year recovered over £92K, which means extra revenue to invest in housing services.

Trainee of the Year is Ashley Handley from Balintore who joined the Council’s Training and Development team as a trainee in April. Ashley very quickly learnt the ropes of the busy offices and soon became an integral and important part of the  teams supporting both trainers and administration staff.  After completing an SVQ level 2 in Business and Administration in 5 months she has now started on the advanced modules and has a permanent clerical position within the council.  

Teams of staff presented their projects to a judging panel and the full list of category winners is:

  • Working Together for the Economy: Delivering Strategic Development, Development & Infrastructure
  • Working Together for our Children and Young People: Resilient Kids, Care and Learning
  • Working together for Caring Communities: Highland Helping Those In Need, Finance
  • Working Together for Better Housing and Infrastructure: Carbon CLEVER Initiative, Chief Executive’s Office
  • Working Together for Strong, Safe and Empowered Communities: Dingwall Academy S1 Cross Curricular Deaf Studies Course
  • Working Together for Efficiency and Service Improvement: Delivering the best used and most cost effective library service in Scotland, High Life Highland
  • Chairman’s Award: Delivering a Quality Planning Enforcement Service for the 21st Century, Development & Infrastructure.

The sponsors of the event were Morrison Construction, Fujitsu, Viridor and Zurich Municipal


13 Nov 2014
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