In the run-up to this year’s C’llr Achievement Awards, we are interviewing previous winners about their proudest moments. In the third of the series we hear from Val Gibson, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Wolverhampton City Council.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
Which award did you win?
Innovation Achievement of the Year Award – 2015
What is your proudest achievement as a councillor?
Safely bringing down the number of looked after children from just under 800 in December 2014 to 640 today. We looked at how children’s services were being delivered and how we would ideally like them to be. Our transformation was not just staff re-organisation but a whole change approach from rescuing children to supporting them and their families to wherever possible, keep them safe at home. This is supported by improved quality supervision to improve practice and a detailed staff development programme.
Which of your projects has made the biggest impact for your community?
A joint project with the private and voluntary sectors created a Youth Zone for Wolverhampton. Like many authorities, reduction in our Government grants meant we had to close our underutilised Youth Clubs. The Youth Zone opened in January this year. It caters for children and young people from 8 – 19 or 25 with disabilities. It has a range of facilities from boxing ring to dance studio; climbing wall to beauty salon. It provides support for anyone with personal issues and support for young people to get into work or start their own business. It now has over 4,000 members – a far greater number then those accessing our previous youth clubs!
What’s the highlight of your time as a councillor so far?
It’s difficult to pick out one particular issue. I particularly enjoy speaking at our looked after children awards and presenting the awards but if were to pick one it would be heading up our Foster Carer recruitment campaign. I was able to secure funds for the big red minibus which our recruiters use when out and about recruiting. I have also, jointly with the Mayor, hosted afternoon teas for our Carers to say thank you for all of the work they do for our Children. They really are a special group of people.
How was the awards ceremony?
I was thrilled to win the award. When I heard the criteria the judges were using and the fierce competition, I felt there was no way I would win. I couldn’t believe it when my name was called. Everyone was so nice with their comments and congratulations. I am really proud of the award which is displayed prominently.
Help us to recognise the fantastic work being done by councillors you know.
Closing date 22nd August.