|“We’re in” – Council staff play their part in The Deal
Council staff who do voluntary work in their community pictured with Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, and Councillor David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council.
Wigan Council staff will get two paid days a year to do community work as part of the council’s new deal.
Local authority employees will be able to use the days to do voluntary work in the borough as part of a push to encourage more people to be active in their communities.
The Deal was launched earlier this month. It’s an informal contract with residents aimed at getting the public to help the council change and save money. It calls on residents to recycle more, support local businesses and get involved in their communities with the council committing to freezing council tax, cutting red tape and creating opportunities for young people.
The majority of Wigan Council staff live locally and the council wants them to play a major part in The Deal. Councillor David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “Our employees have two roles. As council staff, they’ll play a big part in helping the council achieve our side of The Deal. But those employees who live in the borough – and that’s 80 per cent of our 4,000 staff – also have an important role as residents.
“Many are already active in their communities and we want to encourage and inspire even more to get involved with local projects. So we’re going to give all employees two paid days a year which they can use to do community work in Wigan Borough. This will apply to all staff whether they live here or not. I think that will have a tremendous impact and make our communities even stronger.”
Hundreds of council staff already give up hours of their own time to do good work such as coaching sporting teams and running clubs for young people.
Annmarie Clossick works in the council’s day care services and has been employed by the council since 1985. She is a leading member of the Platt Bridge Morris Dancing group, which has 80 members. They dance every week and travel around the country entering competitions.
Annmarie, who has been dancing for more than 40 years, said: “We have dancers from aged three to 47. It’s a great way to keep fit and get involved in something fun. I’ve been dancing most of my life and spend every Sunday dancing and teaching girls to dance. I absolutely love it.”
Annmarie, from Whelley, is also one of the council’s cancer champions supporting people who have been diagnosed and providing advice and information to the public. She said: “I think The Deal is a great idea because initiatives like this can make a big difference.”
Karen Hewitt is a facilities manager for Wigan Council and in her spare time helps run a Sunday school at Mount Zion Independent Methodist Church in Pemberton. It involves organising church services, fundraising events, Christmas parties, outings and Walking Days. Karen said: “I’ve been helping to run the Sunday school for eight years and at the moment we have about 20 children and young people who come along. I really enjoy getting to know them and their families.
“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s worth it. On a Sunday, after the school has finished, I get this lovely feeling inside knowing I’ve made a difference. I’d recommend volunteering – even a little bit can have a big impact, which is why I think The Deal is such a good idea.”
Wigan Council is promoting volunteering opportunities as part of The Deal. This is in addition to the £2m the council has already given to groups through its Community Investment Fund, which is being reopened this year with another £2m on offer.
As well as encouraging the public to get involved in their communities, The Deal includes a commitment for the council and residents to work together to transform public services, minimise the impact of spending cuts and help make Wigan Borough a better place.
Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “It’s amazing how much our staff already give to their communities. We want to encourage this as much as we can and hopefully persuade even more employees to give something back.
“The Deal is important internally because so many of our staff live in the borough. They can help us meet our aims and promote the campaign to the rest of the borough.
“We are working on a staff version of The Deal too, which will be focused on what kind of employer we are and how our staff can help us achieve our ambitions.
“I’m really pleased our recent staff survey shows satisfaction levels are increasing. We’re also working hard to cut staff sickness levels. In January alone, cutting sickness saved us £96,000. I believe this is because we are becoming a more supportive and approachable employer.
“For example thousands of our staff have been to listening sessions led by myself and the council leader giving them an opportunity to raise ideas and issues they may have. We want to encourage this kind of activity through The Deal for staff.”
More information about The Deal is available at www.wigan.gov.uk/thedeal