This guest blog was contributed by Josephine Suherman, Policy Researcher at the LGiU
The LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards aim to recognise and reward those councillors who go over and above what is expected of them; councillors who show absolute dedication to their communities and make positive change happen in the lives of local people.
This was the fifth year of the awards, and was kindly sponsored by Age UK for the third year running.
We were very pleased to partner with the charity once again on the awards and particularly the Age UK award category. The Age UK award is given to councillors who make time to listen to older people in their ward by actively engaging with them and understanding issues of concern, make change happen on issues of concern to older people, and has made an on-going commitment to ensuring that any improvements are maintained in the long term and that older people continue to be engaged in local democracy.
We know that councillors play a vital role in listening to local residents and community groups, balancing priorities and making change happen on their patch. It is particularly important to represent the needs of those who sometimes struggle to have their opinions heard. The Age UK award also helps encourage local councillors ensure that there authority is age-friendly, something which will be evermore important in an ageing society.
Our Age UK winner this year was Cllr Janet Burgess from the London Borough of Islington. Cllr Burgess has been a vocal advocate for Islington’s older people throughout her time as a councillor and particularly in her role as Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing. Some of her main achievements include establishing the council’s first Older People’s Champions, arranging a Pensioners Lunch for 100 older people, and fighting to provide free swimming for over 60s in all Islington council funded leisure centres. Judges felt that Cllr Burgess set an excellent example to others, particularly on issues such as ending 15 minute care visits and ensuring those with moderate needs are eligible for care services.
Judges also awarded a special mention to Wolverhampton City Council’s Cllr Steve Evans, who spearheaded an innovative citywide approach to support people living with dementia and raise awareness of their needs. He has been integral in enabling Wolverhampton to be recognized as the first dementia-friendly city. As part of the programme, 3 ‘dementia cafes’ have been established in key locations, enabling people with dementia and their carers to meet and share experiences. Judges were impressed by his hard work in this important area.
We think councillors play a vital role in making communities thrive but their volunteer role – above and beyond their core duties – is often undervalued and not always appreciated. These awards aim to remedy that. We would like to thank Age UK for helping us to recognise the outstanding contribution that councillors make to the local communities that they serve, and congratulate Cllr Burgess for winning the Age UK Award 2014.