What makes us Oldham

COUNCIL STAFF:  From dinner ladies to binmen and social workers to environmental teams, our staff are delivering vital services to the people of Oldham.
COUNCIL STAFF: From dinner ladies to binmen and social workers to environmental teams, our staff are delivering vital services to the people of Oldham in an increasingly challenging environment.

THIS MORNING I spent time talking to Oldham Council employees at our staff conference.

We hold these events twice a year and invite up to 400 people from across the organisation – including binmen, highways and environmental teams, dinner ladies and social workers alike.

It’s really important to give staff time out from their day job to attend an even like this. It’s a great opportunity to talk with them about our ambitions and about how they can all play a part in delivering them.

It’s also important to thank them for the hard work that they do day in, day out delivering vital services for the people of Oldham.

Today we talked about how we can work together to build a co-operative borough – how we can all make small changes to the way we work to transform the relationships we have with residents, businesses and other organisations.

This is vital because we know – given the budget cuts the government has already imposed – that we can’t continue to improve our borough without working even more closely together.

We also talked about the work we’re doing to bring new growth, investment and jobs to Oldham.

This includes the major regeneration activity in Oldham town centre and our district centres, our investment in new schools and the improvements we’re making to our transport infrastructure, including Metrolink and the focus on fixing our major roads.

We are making a difference – and people are sharing our positivity and ambition.

Education is improving, jobs are being created, good quality family homes are being built and we are re-inventing the best town centre in the area. We should rightly be proud of what we are achieving.

If you believe what much of the national media tells you, you may think that council workers have it easy with their flexible working and ‘gold plated’ pensions.

But in reality our staff do very difficult jobs. They are helping the most vulnerable people in our society, keeping our streets clean, feeding children in our schools, working with young people, gritting the roads and so on.

They also do those jobs in increasingly difficult circumstances – facing year on year reductions in budgets at the same time as demand for many services is actually rising.

I often write about the great work of our services and teams but what most people don’t see is the additional effort that our staff give – that extra mile they go for Oldham.

As a co-operative council we ask more from our people. We challenge them to give something back to the borough, and so many of them are delivering just that.

VOLUNTEERING: Caption: Council employee Mark Prestwich with Eric Noi, Principal at Oldham Boxing and Personal Development Centre, helped secure funding worth thousands of pounds which has helped pay for a new roof at the Greaves Street gym.
VOLUNTEERING: Council employee Mark Prestwich helped Eric Noi, Principal at Oldham Boxing and Personal Development Centre, secure funding worth thousands of pounds which has helped pay for a new roof at the Greaves Street gym.

Last year hundreds of council employees used their time to volunteer for voluntary organisations and communities across the borough. Examples of what they did include painting community centres, acting as stewards for community events and giving advice about finances or websites to help community groups flourish.

They also raised thousands of pounds for the Action Oldham Fund (previously the Co-operative Oldham Fund) by taking part in events like half-marathons, cross -country bike rides, abseils and cake sales.

That money was all used to fund community activities and organisations like Keep Our Girls Safe – a fantastic local group that works with young women to increase their confidence and self-esteem.

More than 70 per cent of our 3,000 staff live here in the borough. They use our local services and many have chosen to bring up their own families here.

I know they share my ambitions for Oldham and care deeply about making it a better place and improving the lives of residents. As advocates for Oldham they are a truly powerful team.

My plea to you is to share that belief that our staff have – and to be ambassadors for Oldham. Tell people about the good things that are going on here, and what it has to offer people who may want to live, visit or do business.

That doesn’t, of course, mean closing our eyes to the work that we still need to do, the huge challenges we face and the improvements we know we must make.

But you should also always take some time on that journey to appreciate what has already been achieved and celebrate the excellent work that is being done.

Thanks for listening,

Jim

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