Dumfries and Galloway Council walked away with an excellence awards at the local government Oscars last week. The Cosla Excellence Awards showcase the very best projects in local government. Last week, our council was awarded one of the top gongs for its outstanding work, acknowledging the success and the difference the project has made to local people. The Council’s anti-poverty work was hailed as an example of best practice and delivered in ways that are innovative and creative.
The emphasis of the Cosla awards is on rewarding the most innovative and passionate developments, and on recognising projects that are changing lives. They reward those who are setting new standards and spread their good practice. 240 applications were submitted last year by councils across Scotland, showcasing their best projects across a range of categories. Bronze and silver awards are handed out to projects following early rounds of judging by the panel. 15 finalists then presented to the panel who then decided the Excellence award winners.
Dumfries and Galloway Council picked up the Cosla Excellence gold award for ‘Tackling Poverty in Dumfries and Galloway’ in the category ‘Tackling Inequalities and Improving Health’.
The Council is committed to tackling the causes and effects of inequality and poverty and introduced its Anti-Poverty Strategy in 2015. Since then, our Council has been working closely with partners, our communities and people facing the challenge of poverty to make sure we get the most effective approaches in place. More recently as part of Challenge Poverty Week we have completed a wide range of initiatives to promote the hard work of local organisations and volunteers in tackling poverty.
In order to make a positive difference, Dumfries and Galloway Council formed a Tackling Poverty Reference Group which includes, and is increasingly driven by, a group of service users with direct experience of living in poverty. The service users come from across the region and a variety of groups involved in supporting issues around poverty. In recognition of the vital role of our Poverty Reference Group, it was these representatives from the group who gave the presentation to the COSLA judging panel so that they could share their experiences directly with them, demonstrating the impact that our work is making to real people. The Poverty Reference Group were present at the Excellence Awards Ceremony last night to receive the award.
Chair of the Communities committee, Andy Ferguson, said “There were over 240 different projects that were submitted from Councils across Scotland for the Excellence Awards this year. To be short-listed as one of the final 15 projects was a great achievement, but to win the Gold award is a recognition that our work to tackle poverty in Dumfries and Galloway is really making a difference for people in our communities and our approach means that we are leading the way in how we deliver this important work. The anti-poverty reference group provide real insight into how we shape and deliver our services so that we are delivering them effectively to those who rely on them and need them most.”
Vice Chair of the committee, John Martin, said “Times are difficult in local government just now, with fewer resources available. However, it is refreshing that our team has created innovative, ground-breaking and industry leading solutions to deliver the best outcomes for local people. Protecting our most vulnerable people and improving the health of local people are priorities for this council. This award recognised our approaches to making this happen. This award sums up what this council is all about – innovative and joined up services, delivered by hard working staff, that are changing lives every day.”