Last year, my fabulous team Positive Steps into Work were proud to be nominated by G4S for the ERSA Partner of the Year Award. First of all, it was a real boost to the team to be nominated, as that sent out a clear message to them that their hard work was valued and appreciated by our prime contractor. We’re a relatively small team and service in comparison to many in the sector, so it meant a lot that a small (but perfectly formed) service like ours would be considered as a high performing partner, impacting significantly on the delivery of a large contract.

We’re a delivery partner for G4S on their Journey2Work programme; a voluntary programme that offers bespoke, personalised employment support to people for up to a year.  It’s the first voluntary programme we’ve delivered for a while, as we were heavily involved in Work Programme delivery, so it was a refreshing change to work with people, keen to move back into paid employment.  It also gave us the opportunity to rekindle all of the important relationships with our former referral partners that had been lost through the delivery of a mandatory programme. That really has been the key to our success on this particular contract and we’ve pretty much smashed all of our targets as a result! 

So, back to the award. Some of the team went down to the Big Smoke for the awards evening and were over the moon when the announcement came that we’d won the award! I’d kept my phone on so that I was ready for an update, good or bad, and got a text at some ungodly hour with the good news.  Our G4S colleagues were also there and the two teams partied hard into the wee small hours. 

On reflection, over the last 12 months, winning the award has spurred the team on to stay ‘on top’ and achieve even better outcomes for our customers. They remain the best performing partner on the contract and that’s all down to their hard work, perseverance and expertise in supporting people back to work. We’ve used the ERSA ‘winning team’ logo on our emails, used the award as a lever for some internal publicity to raise the profile of the invaluable work that the team do and how it contributes to the overall aims of Blackpool Council, and it still gives us all a buzz to see the actual award in our reception area every day. Good luck to this year’s nominees from all at Positive Steps into Work – we might see you at the 2019 Awards!

Vanda de Freitas is Head of Work and Health Programmes for Blackpool Council's Positive Steps into Work Service