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Awards have been given to those whose outstanding commitment to mental and social healthcare has improved the lives of people across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

The seventh annual Recognising Outstanding Service and Contribution Awards (ROSCAs) took place at Puckrup Hall, near Tewkesbury, on Friday (December 6).

The event, attended by approximately 120 staff, volunteers, service users and carers, saw awards presented in nine categories.

In addition, long service awards were presented to staff who have given either 20 or 30 years of dedication to the NHS.

Ruth FitzJohn, Chair of ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This was my first ROSCAs event as Chair of ²gether and I felt privileged to be able to listen to, thank and applaud so many people who devote themselves to making life better for the people we serve.
“We were able to thank not only our staff, but also the service users, carers and volunteers, who strive tirelessly to support, guide and advise our service users.
“I congratulate not only the award winners, but also everyone who was nominated, as they all truly deserve our gratitude for everything they do and for the passion and compassion in the way they do it.”

²gether’s Chief Executive, Shaun Clee, said: “The ROSCAs are a marvellous opportunity for us to recognise the outstanding contributions of our service users, volunteers and staff and thank them for all that they do.

“Every award winner thoroughly deserves the recognition they have received, and every nominee also demonstrates the very best of what ²gether stands for and is about.

“We were also able to celebrate colleagues who have given our communities either 20 or 30 years NHS service – over 1500 years of service in all!

“The ROSCAs are now in their seventh year, and each year I am incredibly proud of our staff and dedicated volunteers and the work that they do.  Together we work extremely hard to ensure that the services we provide remain some of the best in the country.”

Nominations for the ROSCAs are made by staff, service users, carers and the general public. The nominations are then judged by a panel, which includes staff side representatives, service users and carers, Gloucestershire Media (who sponsor the Unsung Hero category) and Trust Governors. 

The list of winners is as follows:

Unsung Hero – For Trust Volunteers

Winner – Jimmy Mckee, from Gloucester

Jimmy has been a community driver for about five years. His dedication is clear and he thrives on providing a safe and secure environment for his clients. The clients say that Jimmy is a very kind man and always makes sure they get to their destination safely by taking them to the door.

Also nominated were Anthea Foden, from Cheltenham and Jacqueline Thomas, from Hereford.
Anthea was nominated for supporting the Managing Memory Together team since January 2012. She is a very proactive volunteer. Her calm, friendly and warm approach, mixed with her commitment and personality has a meaningful and positive influence and helps service users, their carers and loved ones to feel at ease.

Jacqueline has been a volunteer for over five years with Herefordshire Mental Health Services. Her skills with the personal touch have brought glowing endorsements from service users and others. “It is hard to say how many hours she puts in as she is involved in so much,” they told the panel, adding:  “She is a real treasure”.

Carer and Service User Involvement – For recognising a genuine commitment to putting the needs of service users and the carers that we serve at the heart of what we do.

Winner – Gemma Coltraro, from Wotton Lawn, Gloucester

“Gemma has gone above and beyond the confines of her role to organise a socially inclusive event for the second year running, using her extensive experience and knowledge  to work in partnership  with service users and their carers”, said the nomination.

A service user’s family member and carer said: “What a change it makes to be recognised for the work we do as carers. So many people don’t understand how much care someone with mental health problems requires”.

Also nominated were Jo Teakle, from Collingwood House, Gloucester and Angela Ross-Gamble and Marie Stephens from Wotton Lawn, Gloucester.

Of Jo, the person who nominated her said: “Jo has been passionate about incorporating service user and carer perspectives into the heart of services and has been an advocate of this in a quiet way for many years now.
“Jo’s natural aptitude to include people has enabled people to feel confident that they have something to offer to medical education and comfortable in the delivery of their training to often very senior people”.

The nomination for Angela Ross-Gamble & Marie Stephens read: “Angela and Marie have invited as many people as possible to take part in the garden art development which has involved listening to ideas and views as well as creating templates for discussion”. Other service users said: “It was pleasing to be involved in such work that would have a lasting benefit for other patients and that their input had been welcomed, valued and respected.”

Service User and Carers Choice – Nominations for this award can only be made by service users and carers who have contact with ²gether NHS Foundation Trust. It allows service users and carers to nominate an individual who, in their opinion, has made an outstanding contribution in any area of work.

Winner – Mirella Stratford – Fieldview, Gloucester

Mirella has been nominated by members of a family she has supported. When the benefits system changed Mirella helped with all the paperwork, speaking up on the carer’s behalf to ensure the correct benefits were retained, enabling the carer to continue providing care for his father round the clock. Of Mirella, the family said:  “We would describe her as a rock, and it is like having another mother!”

Also nominated were Jane Vickers, from Cirencester and Tracey Boden, from Weaver’s Croft, Stroud.
One person who nominated Jane said: “Jane has devised and runs a Skills Training for Recovery Group. Were this not worthy enough by itself it is the fact that the whole course was put together in her own free time that she deserves recognition.” Another proposer said: “I certainly would not have experienced the very hard journey of self- discovery that I have over the past 18 months without the help, guidance and dedication that Jane has shown to me”.

Service Users nominated Tracey for this award because she “always goes the extra step, over and above what is expected of her. Her expertise and professionalism are second to none”. They added: “She has helped both my husband and myself beyond measure”. Another service user said: “I feel lucky to have her as my nurse and helper”.

Valuing Diversity – This award looks for shining examples of individuals or teams who have been creative in recognising and valuing diversity which as a result has produced benefits for all.

Winners – Dementia Education Nursing Team – Tina Kukstas, Sue Keane, Mary Keating, Robin Willmott

This team adopted an innovative and creative approach to engage with Black and Minority Ethnic communities to promote dementia awareness, training Black and Minority Ethnic community members to have the skills to ‘educate’ their communities about dementia. They recognise that diversity is not only about race; they look at other characteristics and make the service as truly inclusive as possible.

Also nominated were Kate Evans and James Wildy, from Westridge, Stonehouse and Lucy Garden, from Wotton Lawn, Gloucester.
Kate leads on Autism training and has introduced a co-trainer James, who is an ‘Expert by Experience’. Carers who attend the training have a first-hand account of what it is like to have autism.This results in people living with autism receiving better, more individualised care.

Lucy took up a part time project based role working for ²gether in close alliance with Gloucestershire Young Carers in October 2012. The aim of the work is to develop sustainable family based interventions. Among the many positive outcomes of this work has been to identify and support young carers who have been seldom heard. Young carers have commented about the positive and empowering effect that this work is having on them and their whole family.

Clinical Team of the Year

Winners – Bed Management Team – Leon Meek and Amy Alexander

Those who nominated Leon and Amy said: “These two staff members work in the interests of all patients all of the time. They manage high pressure situations and competing demands for beds every day and always find a solution.
“In all this time I have never known such a small team make such a positive impact on service users and all the staff with whom they come into contact”.

Also nominated were the Westridge Staff Team, from Stroud, and the Laurel House Staff Team, from Gloucester.
The Westridge team have been challenged for a prolonged time and there has been much scrutiny from internal and external services. Yet the team has remained strong and coherent throughout the difficult year whilst maintaining and delivering excellent nursing care. They have been praised for treating patients holistically and with an individualised approach, demonstrating excellent team working skills despite very difficult circumstances.

The Laurel House team was nominated by a variety of service users. A typical comment included in the nominations was: “The team go out of their way to ensure access to services, e.g. voluntary work and drama initiatives. They make sure all my needs are met”.
Another comment included: “Their team work has helped me grow as an individual. Their encouragement and patience is endless.”

Best Supporting Colleague

Winner – Fi Baxter – Staff Bank, Wotton Lawn

Fi works as a Staff Bank Administrator and received numerous nominations. The Judging panel said: “To receive so many nominations from people who had never met Fi is testament to her personality and ‘can do’ attitude’. One nomination said: “There is a collective sigh of dismay when Fi is not in the office. “Fi is an absolute diamond who deserves to be recognised as such”.

Also nominated were Keith Noble, from Collingwood House, Gloucester and Andrew Swithenbank, from Oak House, Hereford.
Andrew is based at Oak House, in Herefordshire. Consistently going above and beyond what was required is what got Andrew on to the shortlist. His involvement in a trip to Saundersfoot organised by the Mental Health Reference Group for service users in his own time deserved particular acknowledgement.

Keith works as a Mental Health trainer alongside his other role as an Approved Mental Health Professional. Keith went way beyond his daily role to support his colleague during a difficult 6 month period of serious ill health in the family. Giving up his free time when his colleague’s car broke down was another example of his generous behaviour.

Non Clinical Team of the Year

Winners – Wotton Lawn Porters – Mark Tandy and Paula Reis

Those who nominated Mark and Paula said: “They may be rushed off their feet but in the 6 months I’ve been here I have never heard a cross word uttered. Always smiling, always cheerful, the only indication you might get as to how busy they are is a slightly raised eyebrow and a wry grin! They are the backbone of Wotton Lawn”.

Also nominated were the Clinical Systems Team – Linda Castle and Sue Harries and our Human Resources Operations Team.
Someone who nominated the HR Operations Team described them as: “Always helpful and cheerful at a moment’s notice. They are very responsive and give good quality help and input from simple requests for information to their innovative work on contributing to complex projects such as tenders and management of change issues”.

When nominating Linda and Sue, their proposer said: “Both Linda and Sue regularly and cheerfully help me in my role by regularly completing tasks that are not part of their remit. They are always happy to assist me and are a pleasure to work alongside for which I am always very grateful”.

Best Supporting Manager

Winner – Denise Evans – Fieldview, Gloucester

Denise manages the teams at Fieldview covering Gloucestershire Community Learning Disabilities Team and Gloucestershire Community Mental Health Team. Multiple nominations highlight how well regarded Den is among her team. They say: “Den would never draw attention to herself or that she was worthy of highlighting and considers what she does is simply her job and that should be recognised.She is brilliant and we love her!”

Also nominated were Kelly Tidmarsh from Acorn House, Gloucester and Tim Wallin from Etnam St, Leominster.

Tim manages the North Recovery Team based at Etnam Road, Leominster. The nominations say that Tim leads by example, supporting the team through organisational changes and offering advice, support and encouragement.
“Tim is unfailingly supportive”, they said.

Kelly is the manager of the Vulnerable Children Service based in Acorn House. Quotations from the nominations include: “Kelly is probably the best manager I have experienced in over 20 years of nursing” and “She has remained human, supportive, attentive, always there when we need her and always putting her team above herself and often above her own needs”.

CEO Award for Innovation

Winner – Michael Humphries, Herefordshire

Michael is a support worker in the Herefordshire Assertive Outreach team and was the recipient of this award last year. This year his nomination is for an entirely different innovation. Through his personal contact with an animal shelter he has organised regular times for service users to take dogs for walks. The proposer said: “I was struck by how something so simple could have such a positive impact on someone who was struggling with their illness”.

Also nominated were John Cooper and the Children and Young Person’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies team.
John is an Occupational Therapist who has developed a new assessment, collaborating with academics around the globe to develop this assessment to a place where it is ready to be published for international use.
Someone who nominated, said: “John is a real example of someone who has believed in an idea which would benefit his clients and has dedicated a significant amount of his personal time to make the development. He lives the values of the organisation.”

Children and Young People’s IAPT, their proposer said: “Is not just about learning new skills but it is a service transformation project which requires the application of skills. Service users can now access evidence based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in a way that was not possible before. Their hard work will underpin the changes needed to modernise the service.”