Reclaiming Social Work

Today sees the start of the implementation phase of the Reclaiming Social Work model for Children’s Social Work when the first two Units become operational.

Although five local Authorities across England have fully implemented this model, Aberdeen City Council is the first authority in Scotland.  Independent evaluation of the model tells us that outcomes are improved for service users.

The Reclaiming Social Work model delivers increased contact time for social work staff with children and their families, reducing bureaucracy and simplifying systems.  Implementation of the model will continue on an incremental basis over the next 18 months.

I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing the first Units all the very best.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how outcomes improve for children in Aberdeen as a result of this new way of delivering these vital services.

Happy Birthday!

It seems only fair that if you were born on 29th February and you only have the chance to celebrate once every four years, you should be wished a Happy Birthday.

So many happy returns of the day to our eight Leap Year colleagues!

Budget 2016/2017

A short note to say a huge thank you to everyone who played a part over the past few months in bringing together all the details presented to the Council yesterday in relation to next year’s budget.

Led by Steve Whyte and his Finance team, it’s been a massive undertaking involving colleagues from every service across the Council and I think we have every right to be proud of the way we have worked together to develop the options placed before the elected members for decision.  You’ll find more information on the Zone about what the Council has now agreed and the details of next year’s budget will be shared with teams over the coming weeks, but for me the headlines are:

  • the conditions set by the Scottish Government in relation to the grant settlement have been met
  • the £10.3 million reduction in funding received from the Scottish Government has been addressed
  • adjustments to our budget spend have been made to absorb additional cost pressures of £16.8 million
  • non-earmarked reserves of £11.3 million have been maintained
  • budget savings of £2.4 million have been made
  • no Council jobs have been lost

In the coming financial year the Council will spend in excess of £450 million delivering services to the people of Aberdeen and over the coming five years we will deliver a capital programme of developments totalling in excess of £550 million.

Of course, we’re all very well aware that further downward pressure on the Council’s finances, like those of the entire public sector, is on its way and as a result we’ll all need to turn our attention very soon to the challenges of 2017/2018 and beyond.

For now though, job well done for 16/17.

APSE Scottish Apprentice of the Year Awards

I wrote last week about the above.

I’m delighted to confirm that our colleagues Michael Spence and Graeme Baird did not come away from the awards ceremony empty-handed.

Michael was runner-up in the 1st Year Category and Graeme won the 2nd Year Category.  This is the second year running that Graeme has won APSE Scottish Apprentice of the Year.

Well done to all involved.

Star Awards and STAR Programme

We’re now in the final week for nomination submissions for this year’s Star Awards.

I do hope you’ve taken the opportunity to nominate the Stars you think deserve an award for the work they do.  This year brings along some new categories, Rising Star – to give recognition to the staff that have newly joined the ACC family and are already exceeding expectations, Shaping Aberdeen Culture for the people who champion improving customer experience, improving staff experience and getting the best out of our resources.  We also have Collaboration which I know will be popular because are staff are great at working together to get the best outcome and Innovation will showcase the forward thinkers in our organisation.

My personal favourite is the Peoples Champion, this category is nominated by members of the public, and it’s always great to hear how our staff go the extra mile for the citizens of Aberdeen.

I enjoyed a presentation from 2 members of the STAR Programme project team last week and the plans they have in place for the extended programme for Staff Thanks And Recognition (STAR), so keep an eye out for a Managers Challenge to find out the volunteering work that our staff do outside of work, an All Staff Thank You event this year, monthly showcasing of good news stories and many more developments to help us recognise the great work that goes on in our organisation.

One more reminder – we’ve a Back Pat section on our Ideas Hub, so if you think no good deed should go unnoticed, sign in from the Zone and let us know who deserves a pat on the back.

Aberdeen’s Learning Fesitval

It was a real pleasure to drop in to the AECC yesterday while the Learning Festival was in full swing.  It’s tremendous to see this event continue to expand and grow.

It was particularly encouraging to see so many enthusiastic colleagues from teams across the Council coming together to work jointly in providing services to children across the City.

Thank you and well done to all on the organising team.  I’ve no doubt that thoughts have already turned to the 2017 event.

Fingers crossed for even more success …

I’m certain that you’ll join me in wishing every success to Michael Spence and Graeme Baird who are both shortlisted in the 2016 APSE Scottish Apprentice of the Year Awards.

Michael is nominated in the 1st Year category and Graeme in the 2nd Year and the award winners are announced on Thursday 18th February.

Our apprentices have had great success before, with Graeme winning the 1st Year category at last year’s APSE Scottish Apprentice of the Year Awards and Chris Black being recognised as runner-up in the 4th year category last year too.  Graeme was also the runner-up in the 2015 APSE UK Apprentice of the Year (Mechanical) award category, with another of our apprentices Daniel Webster also being named as runner-up at the same awards in the Building category.

At the same time Michael is the 2015 Tullos Training College 1st Year Plumbing Apprentice of the Year for 2015 and Graeme is the 2nd Year Electrical Apprentice of the Year for 2015.  Daniel is the Wrights & Coopers Advanced Carpentry & Joinery Gold Award winner for 2015.  Finally, I must also mention that yet another of our apprentices, Craig Paterson is the Tullos Training College 2nd Year Plumbing Apprentice of the Year for 2015.

All this success is testament to the hard work and dedication of the apprentices themselves and of Doug Gibb, Team Leader/Apprenticeships for Communities, Housing and Infrastructure.

Well done to all.



Out and about

A short note to thank Judith Mohamed and her team for my very enjoyable visit to Oldmachar Academy on Tuesday and thank you too to all the team who turned out for my Shaping Aberdeen session on Wednesday at Duthie Park.

It was also a real pleasure to attend the Lord Provost’s reception at the Town House held to mark the considerable efforts by many colleagues from across the Council in dealing with the flooding incidents in the City last month.

It’s weeks like this that remind me both of the incredible range of services the Council provides to the people of Aberdeen and the passion and commitment with which they are delivered by the Council’s teams.

New team member

I’m delighted to say that Marc Cole has this week taken up his post as the Council’s new City Centre Director based in the Office of Chief Executive.  Marc’s role will see him lead on putting in place the building blocks that will start to bring the City Centre Masterplan and delivery programme to fruition.

Marc brings to the team a wealth of experience working in the public, private and third sectors on physical regeneration, economic development, strategic policy and property development.  He’s had a number of senior management roles including at Manchester City Council, international property consultants DTZ, St Helens Council, Bradford Centre Regeneration, Nottingham Regeneration Limited and as Strategic Director for Place at North East Lincolnshire Council.

Marc has spent his first few days meeting a range of key individuals across the Council and he’s ending the week with interviews for the two members of his team.

The ideas are flowing…

8 weeks, 62 ideas, 600 users, 21,000 page hits it’s fair to say that the new Ideas Hub has been well received…

The Ideas Hub is the online platform that replaced ‘Employee Voice’.  The Hub offers staff the opportunity to put forward ideas focusing on our triple aims:- improving customer experience, improving staff experience and making better use of our resources.  The Hub aims to encourage engagement, collaboration and change.  It empowers staff, teams and services to have their say and create solutions to challenges we face within the triple aims.

And it’s totally transparent.  You can join in the collaboration on any idea and, using the Tracker Board, follow its journey from defining the idea through to its delivery.

At one of my recent Shaping Aberdeen events, I challenged staff to get out there and meet Heads of Service to get to know a bit about who they are and what they do.  I’m delighted to say that Linda Munro, one of our frontline Customer Service Assistants, picked up this challenge, posted it on-line and, as a result, it will be the first idea to be delivered through the Hub.  So, a huge thank you to Linda and to the Heads of Service who signed up for this!

Further details of the ‘Get to Know A Head of Service’ event can be found on The Zone.  I hope as many of you as possible will join our first volunteer, Simon Haston, for a coffee, a Q&A session and a quick fire question round.  Look out for more details of other Heads of Service events soon.

I’m really pleased so many colleagues from across the organisation have taken the time to put forward ideas and have their say on others’.  I’d encourage everyone to approach ideas in the same positive manner and with a “How can we …” mindset.  So if you haven’t logged on yet – give it a go – and let’s get some more great ideas off the ground.

You’ll find the links on the Home Page of The Zone and Glow.  To get the best experience of the Hub please use it through Google Chrome.  I’ll be updating you regularly on its progress and hope that we can all continue to share in its success.