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Awards season in full flow for Unitas Stoke-on-Trent

It’s been a busy few months for Unitas Stoke-on-Trent. On Monday (11th October) the team made their way down to Coventry for the annual Direct Works Forum Awards following two successfully shortlisted submissions. Competition was fierce, but Unitas put forward strong submissions for two categories: Inspirational Employee of the Year and Team of the Year.

Unitas’s very own Ian Mountford scooped the top spot in the award for Inspirational Employee of the Year! Ian has worked for the Council and Unitas for 42 years and can normally be found with a paint brush in his hand, responsible for undertaking painting and decorating work in a variety of contracts. When the Covid pandemic hit, Ian was seconded as a driver to deliver emergency food parcels to vulnerable people in the community. Ian worked tirelessly and willingly, with a smile on his face and on call seven days a week. He volunteered his time to help deliver food parcels to vulnerable residents across the city for over five months and delivered thousands of emergency food parcels to residents’ homes within eight hours of the initial request being received; in fact, he delivered almost half of the food parcel requests received.

Martin Heath, Head of Responsive Repairs and Maintenance at Unitas, commended Ian’s outstanding work by saying, “On many occasions Ian was contacted late in the working day to deliver food parcels as a matter of urgency and Ian always willingly helped out – and within the hour too! Ian always goes the extra mile. He worked seven days a week providing this service and at times went above and beyond by going to the local supermarket to collect items not included in the parcels including pet food, baby milk and nappies and sometimes even paying out of his own pocket. When asked, Ian would even put the shopping away for the residents too”.

Unitas was also awarded 2nd place and a commendation for their submission for the Team of the Year Award in recognition of the work they completed on the Macari Homeless Centre during the early stages of the pandemic.

The Macari Centre project was undertaken in a 22,500 sq ft disused distribution centre. This was in response to the Government’s emergency measures introduced during the first lockdown when local authorities were instructed to move homeless people from shelters to appropriate accommodation to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Unitas, in collaboration with other partner agencies, led the way in the construction of innovative accommodation.

In order to make the premises fit for purpose Unitas had to first upgrade the electrical supply and drainage system as they were insufficient to be able to supply the relevant utilities for the design. In addition, Unitas had to construct a boiler room from scratch, install fire prevention measures (firewalls and alarm system) and install emergency lighting to safeguard the centre’s residents.

The self-contained accommodation in the warehouse is twofold: firstly, there are 13 ‘pods’ that the Macari Foundation purchased. Much like “glamping pods” on a campsite they were delivered to the warehouse pre-assembled by the manufacturer. Unitas had to provide all the electrical supply to the ‘pods’ so that they had light and heat in them. Secondly Unitas constructed 12 self-contained rooms, each of which has en-suite facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet) – again all services to the units had to be installed as there were no pre-existing services in place capable of meeting the demand for electric, water and drainage.

It was a huge team effort by staff from Unitas and also other partners to get the site fully operational to provide temporary shelter to the vulnerable members of our society to help prevent the spread of Covid.

Wayne Booth, Director of Unitas commented “This is really great news, the Direct Works Forum is a fantastic organisation and held in high regards by many repairs professionals in the industry. Well done to Ian and the Macari Team this is a great achievement. Thanks to all the staff representing Unitas on the night, and to all involved in these projects and putting the submissions together. This is a great recognition of Unitas and what we can achieve together.”

These are not the only awards Unitas has been shortlisted for recently. Unitas picked up Silver in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Health & Safety Awards and were also one of four finalists for Health & Safety Team of the Year. They were also finalists in three categories in the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards; Best Housing, Regeneration or New Build Initiative, Best Service Team: Housing, Construction and Building Service and Best Public/Private Partnership Working Initiative. And the finalists didn’t stop there! Business Apprentice Katie Ford was highly commended for Learner of the Year in Management & Leadership at the In Comm Awards.

A huge well done to Team Unitas for all their hard work and achievements!

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