Work to help refugees recognised

15 February 2017

THE work of a council officer in helping refugees fleeing Syria's civil war, as part of the government's national programme, has been recognised.

Housing Options and Safeguarding business manager, Leanne Monger, who works for Newark and Sherwood District Council, received the prestigious Mark Henry Award for her 'exceptional achievements' in helping to re-settlement extremely vulnerable families who at risk, in need of medical care or survivors of torture, living in camps bordering Syria. 

In their citation for the council's annual Pride Awards, the Judging Panel said: "In the past, resettlement of refugees has largely been done in cities and larger towns where there is considerable experience and knowledge about how to successfully support vulnerable refugees. 

"In Newark and Sherwood we have little recent experience of this type of work but we were asked to consider playing our part in dealing with this humanitarian crisis. To understand and plan for the needs of such people has been daunting and challenging for an organisation with no previous experience in this field.

"Leanne demonstrated outstanding leadership, commitment and compassion as well as impressive powers of persuasion in ensuring that we have been able to accommodate refugees in the district.

The citation continued "Leanne has lived the values of this organisation through this work, showing sensitivity, compassion and commitment. She has made her colleagues and the organisation as a whole very proud and we are delighted to announce that she is the winner of the Mark Henry Award."

Leanne said: "The refugees that we have helped to resettle are the most vulnerable of families, all with very young children who arrived with just a suitcase, having lived in conditions we could not even imagine in western society. They have a new life now and are so keen to make a contribution to society and become part of the community here."

The Judging Panel only makes the Mark Henry Award, introduced in 2012 following the untimely death of valued colleague Mark henry, at its discretion and this is only the second time it has been presented.

Also honoured in this year's awards were housing officer Lisa Winter who, at her own initiative, created an activity programme for children residing at the council's homeless hostels over the school summer holidays. The activities meant that homeless children in the hostels over the summer holiday were given opportunities to learn and enjoy themselves - making what could have been a potentially difficult and miserable time for them easier.

The Unsung Hero Award went to Amanda Wasilewski for her charity and voluntary work. Amanda, an active supporter of Newark Castle and the National Civil War Centre, is also an avid 'crafter' and in her own time has made individual quilts 'stitched with love' for the children of the Syrian refugee families.

The Team of the Year Award went to Martin Chapman and Paul Froud from the Waste Management team for their work on the council's reliable and effective garden waste recycling scheme.

The Pride Awards provide the council with an opportunity to recognise the level of employee commitment and the outstanding contributions they make in delivering excellent public services. Each year employees are encouraged to nominate colleagues who they believe have gone above and beyond the call of duty when discharging their roles. 

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