Our Outreach Support Service operating within South and West Essex has been successful in winning the ‘Forward Thinking Innovation’ prize at the Essex Supplier Recognition awards.

These awards, open to anyone who supplies a service to Essex County Council, offer the opportunity for providers to demonstrate their outstanding contribution to corporate social responsibility, forward thinking innovation, best use of digital technology or achievements which display the best local small – medium enterprises.

The Outreach service provides a highly effective and efficient housing related support service for people who need help to manage their homes, stay independence and link in to other services in the local area. Following a 30% cut to funding in April 2017, the team re-evaluated how best to continue to provide a financially efficient but high level service.

Through a combination of utilising new technologies and redesigning business processes, a number of significant savings were achieved which improved the standard of support for customers and reduced costs including:

  • The use of web-enabled tablets which gave staff access to the internet on visits to complete forms rather than returning to an office.
  • A substantial reduction in staff mileage following more mobile working.
  • Creating a paper free service which saves administration time.
  • Creating a larger number of community drop-in session which have increased convenience for customers and resulted in fewer cancelled support sessions.

So, despite a substantial funding cut, the service has continued to providing long-lasting, highly impactful, life-changing support to even more people in desperate need in the local community.

The judges explained the win was awarded for “embracing new technologies and ways of working by implementing a new software package called ‘Tableau’ and the use of their ‘Phablets’ (A cross between and phone and a tablet). By incorporating these technologies it has streamlined the process of taking assessments and reduced the time taken by over half, also the ability to access a live stream of data.”

Barbara Horne, Operations Manager covering the service, is really proud of the achievements of the team:

Being faced with a 30% cut in funding might have proved an insurmountable problem for some teams, but managers and staff have really pulled together to create an outstanding service for even more people. I am so proud to receive this award as it’s a real reflection of all the hard work that’s been put in.

Barbara, along with David Solomons, Director of Business Information, and Edie Connelly, Outreach Support Manager, collected their awards at the ceremony held at County hall, Chelmsford.