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# 6: No One Left Behind

The Surrey County Council Communications and Engagement team are pleased to announce the launch of the Surrey Matters podcast. Going behind the scenes of Surrey County Council, the county and the people who bring services to you.

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Episode 6 – No One Left Behind Surrey County Council's ambitions for residents .

We caught up with Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver to find out what his ambitions for Surrey are and what "No One Left Behind" actually means for residents. We also met some people helping to deliver that ambition including work in libraries, apprenticeships and Surrey Adult Learning.

  • Council Leader Tim Oliver – talked about his personal journey to becoming leader of Surrey County Council, what his ambitions for Surrey are and what he thinks needs improving.
  • Nicki Francis – works in Surrey Libraries and explained how the Period Dignity initiative is running and how libraries are supporting those who may not have digital access.
  • Collette Le Van-Gilroy – from the Health and Wellbeing team told us what they are doing to tackle health inequalities supporting people who might be experiencing substance abuse, homelessness, or are in contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Pete Parish and Emma Slade – told us how apprenticeships can offer an alternative career boost for people of all ages. From school leavers to those wanting a career change.
  • Francis Lawlor – is the Principal of Surrey Adult Learning and he told us all the great things that the seven Surrey Adult Learning centres are offering residents.

We hope you enjoy the show. If you have some ideas for an interesting podcast story please send us an email with the subject line 'Surrey Matters Podcast' to

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Episode 6 transcript

Welcome to episode six of the Surrey Matters podcast. Going behind the scenes meeting the people bringing services to you, talking to residents about what matters to them and their communities and letting you know what's going on in your county. Brought to you by the Surrey County Council communications team.

This episode I'm joined by Danielle Murray. Hi Danielle. Hi, CJ so who have you been talking to this episode Danielle?

So, I found out all about apprenticeships in Surrey and who can apply for them, and I also talked with Collet in Public Health about how we're helping those with multiple disadvantages.

Oh, what does that mean?

So, it means that people who might have experienced substance misuse, experienced or are perpetrators of domestic violence or maybe those in contact with the criminal justice system and experiencing homelessness. I also caught up with Surrey libraries and talk to them about how the period dignity campaign was going and she told me a bit about free computer access is available for residents across Surrey. So, who did you interview this episode CJ?

So, I caught up with the leader of Surrey County Council Tim Oliver to find out a little bit more about the person leading the Counsel, what he's most proud of and what he thinks the council can do better and exactly what is meant by no one left behind here in Surrey. I also caught up with the principle at Surrey adult learning to find out all the fantastic things they are doing in their seven centres across Surrey. First up Surry County Council leader Tim Oliver.

Morning, I'm here with councillor Tim Oliver and we're here in Weybridge. Hi Tim.

Morning CJ.

So, Surrey is a big county, where is Weybridge exactly?

So, Weybridge is up in the north of the county, just a little bit of the River Thames runs through it so that's sort of Northwest.

And this is your ward isn't there?

My division yes so yeah, I've, I cover the whole of Weybridge so it's about 12 thousand residents.

Okay so have you always lived in Surrey or where we brought up?

No, I was brought up, born, and bred in Reading


I went to university and then spent a bit of time in London and then the last 30 years I've lived down in Surrey.

And what did you do in a former life, what was your job after university?

So, I did law at university and then became a solicitor and so practised law up in the city for that period. I've built a business so actually a lot of my day was spent really running the business rather than necessarily practising law which is probably safer for everybody

OK and then during that time were you a councillor what I mean how long you been council leader now?

I've been the council leader for three years


but I said my interest started originally through my father who was a councillor in Reading


there and everything else so I used to go out delivering his leaflets and see what he did. yeah. I actually saw the impact that he had in our local community there and then when I was working in London and in the early years when we moved down to Surrey I didn't really feel very engaged with what was going on locally so in 1999 I first got elected to Elmbridge borough council and spent some 20 years on that council and then and did a spell on the County Council as well in the middle 2000s but really difficult to balance my day job and do that accounts with job properly. Yeah. So, I came off and then got re-elected in 2017 and so, what made you want to become a councillor?

Well I think it was, you know, we have a fantastic county here I mean it is a brilliant place to live and to work and I just wanted to put something back into the community, my wife was a GP, practising GP and kind of say you know you could sort of see some of the problems people had and I thought well actually I could see if I can help a little bit and do some things to improve people's lives so that's really what drove me to stand in the first place. OK and so three years as Surrey County Council leader, what are you most proud of doing your time as leader of the council?

I think, you know, it's a challenging role, you know, it's a big organisation and we have a lot of serious responsibilities I think the county perhaps it started to slip behind perhaps some of its other peer groups, other county councils. So three years ago or just a little bit before I took over we kind of set out on a transformation plan so how could we change and improve the way in which we delivered services and you know we went out and engage with communities and creative a community vision which is broadly that no one is left behind, yeah and I suppose that has meant that we've had to drive quite a change in the culture of the organisation to become a really can do really engaged organisation

So yeah I'm proud that I think we made some really good progress on that on the transformation programme there's more to do but actually you know we have an organisation now that really wants to deliver the best it can to our residents and so that's what you're most proud of what do you think we could do better or feel that you need to improve upon.

Well I think now I mean the last two years have been difficult for everybody you know for families who lost their loved ones and of course for organisations like the county that have been there to support those founders through those difficult times so I think now as we hopefully start to come out of Covid and we starts to look and plan for the future you know we got four key areas that the county needs to focus on is about our local in communities is getting people back into work that want to work making sure that our high streets are you know are thriving however we can do that we need to really focus on people's health and wellbeing clear mental health has become a real issue for not from anybody people bring the future climate emergency stuff is a key area for us to focus on then finally really kind of building on all of their community spirit that we've seen over the last year would be fantastic in terms of stepping up and looking out for their neighbours so that's what you know it's our fourth area that we kind of really need to build on

OK and you mentioned green futures and climate change what have you done differently to your carbon footprint ? Well the so by the first thing I've done has the most significant is to buy the electric car. Oh okay yeah. It's a great car yeah.

you know I'm working a bit more from home so not travelling every day to Kingston, Reigate now so I do try and walk and I cycle but you know just recognising that we need to all play our part I think that's this isn't an something that a County Council on its own is able to deliver, or the Government for that matter we need to put investment in to the right things but all of us just have to change our behaviour slightly you know to recognise that the you know we've got to hit our car zero carbon targets in 2050 So it's a busy job how do you keep your health and wellbeing you mentioned health and wellbeing being one of our priorities. What you do cause you obviously coz I say very busy job what do you do in your down time ?

So you know that it's a long day that bizarrely with zoom meetings and team meetings is probably more meetings now than they were previously so I try and get out on my bike, my road bike ride whenever I can at the weekends and also try and take the dogs out for a walk which is bit easier when the days are a bit longer and I suppose I on a personal level you know the last four years have been difficult for myself, my family with the death of our 21 year old daughter from a brain tumour so we work, my wife and I work closely with a brain tumour charity and shooting star and children's hospice so on. I will be doing a 10 mile walk for Princess Alice called talk the walk which is all about men and bereavements. okay. talking that through. Yeah. Trying to encourage people to be open about their experiences. So do you visit the Weybridge men's shed? Yes I do. That's a great initiative. The county council was able to put a little bit of funding into that and you know I think mental health whether it's men women children I mean it's you know isolation social isolation and all sorts of factors that just you know make people feel a little bit sort of down. The more we can do as a County Council to help support, to prevent people from falling into that sort of two problem this year is a key responsibility area. I mean if you take something like mental health between that isn't something that the County Council on its own can deal with it's really important that we work closely with our partners and we do whether it's NHS with the third sector you know the voluntary the charitable provision faith sectors and so on and they have been fantastic I mean the one thing that again I'll probably I'm proud of is that we have really pulled together key organisations I think across the county and kind of sat down and worked out what we can do collectively to improve people's lives and livelihoods so partnership working is a key needed requirement but and so much better now than we ever have done.

Yeah and I think you know you've been working hard with the team to get some of the funding that we've got from government and you know you mentioned Surrey Crisis Fund earlier but again it's that partnership working isn't it could because we're giving funding to The Community Foundation in Surrey and that's all about getting money to the most vulnerable people.

Yeah it is very much so you know there are funds available for people and there certainly sort of support in other ways you know I think we have to recognise that that there's large parts of this county that are affluent and compared with other parts of the country but equally you know we do have real areas that need that support and intervention. Do you think we're better at doing that now ?Most definitely yeah most definitely I think you know we've got to be the masters of our own destiny here, you know there's a national agenda around perhaps parts of the country that have been left behind yeah and I understand that and I recognise that we can't let that stop us doing what we're able to do ourselves here in Surrey.

So what are you most looking forward to this year in terms of what we're going to achieve as a council

So I'm hoping I think we're all hoping now that that we're through COVID now, it's starting to be become less of an issue you know we all obviously have to be careful of it and we probably have to be vaccinated on a regular basis but actually what I'm really excited about is now getting to manage our ambitious agenda you know we the last two years have understandably been about supporting those vulnerable Residents and you know and doing everything we need to get people safely through that. But I think you know we've got lots of things that we want to deliver you in those four areas that I talked about earlier and I'm hoping that you know we can now really get along with that and you know make that difference. Have you got a surprising fact or a hidden gem within Surrey that people might not know about?

There are lots of hidden gems here in Surrey and I think over the last couple years again for those people have spent more time at home they've gone out and explored the countryside here in Weybridge you know very few people know that the River Thames is just over the road. OK. So you know it's you that's what makes this place such a fantastic county to live and to work and to play you know there there's just you don't have to go very far to find some really good green space you know. And thriving communities you know it's a very friendly place as well so but I think I would encourage everyone to get out walkabout so they see what we've got because there's lots of good things here.

And isn't it the most wooded county in England? Yeah we are the most wooded but equally the County Council is committed to ensure that we plant 1.2 million trees over the next 10 years that's one tree for every resident here you know I say we've got to do absolutely got to do our bit for the for the climate and but yes I mean it's an it's a beautiful county very accessible to London into the airports and so which is why you know its interest such an attractive place to live but you know equally as an expensive place to live another challenge for you know for many of our residents.

What what's your favourite spot in Surrey? Well that's a good question I mean I've got lots of favourite places I would like to go when I cycle up to the top of Box Hill then I look across the county and it's spectacular. Very nice to meet you today on this cold day and good luck with the rest of the year. You too.

Surrey libraries are in the heart of our communities here in Surrey and offers so much more than just books Danielle went along to find out just some of the things that they are doing including supporting the period dignity campaign providing pre computer access for those who may not have digital access

I'm here with Nikki at Walton library and we're going to talk a little bit about the period dignity campaign and how that's been working in libraries across Surrey. Hi Nicki how are you? I'm very well thank you how are you? Yeah very well thank you how's Period Dignity been working across libraries in Surrey?

It seems to have been very well received so just last week we heard that Staines library had taken their products via a refuge for Afghan refugees so we were able to send them all of our spares over to Staines which was very gratefully received. I also heard the Cobham giveaway an awful lot of so much protection and Cobham Library based in a building with a children's social start centre and they have a lot of people coming in who need assistance a lot of people are said to assist as a good thing I said last people get very generous in just putting an extra packet in their shopping and then dropping it off in the in the bins in the library some re library I learnt that they've got a hygiene bank which they do in conjunction with one of the food banks where people can donate other hygiene products like deodorant toothpaste toothbrush that sort of thing again to help people who can't afford to buy these fundamental things about keeping some clean and healthier. The wonderful thing is libraries are at the heart of the communities they always right in the middle of the towns but there are libraries in lots of towns throughout Surrey so it's an easy place for people get too and it's all very discreet they just are a in a tray in front of the library so somebody doesn't have to come and say oh please can I have some they just can help themselves or they can donate.

And I suppose that's good for residents that and people that might be out and about in different areas wherever they may be if they get caught out and they need period products they can just pop into the library or I know so many in 52 or 54 I think for libraries across Surrey. So it's really good for schools and colleges they are also a hub where young mothers coming with them with their babies and their toddlers and these are all groups of people who often have less disposable income and might need this help.

What a great initiative that is across Surrey and that was done in partnership with the charity Binti international. Next up Danielle found out about free computer access which is also available in libraries. I understand that there are computers across all Surrey libraries or most of Surrey libraries for people to access if they might not have that same access at home.

Yes that's true there are public computers in all the main libraries have seen the bigger libraries have more computers they are they recently been upgraded that she's a fairly new ones running an up to date software which is very useful they are connected through a programme called net loan to a printing programme people can download and print off documents if they don't have printers at home whether it's their children's homework or whether it's a right to travel certificate there PCR results they can print them off again this is all very you can do it without talking to a member of staff or the member of staff is always around to help and we do have number of people who starts with the computers jobs hers people tend to apply for that job seekers allowance or housing benefits or people who need help with school applications or people who just want to print off an attachment on their email and then they're not comfortable using your computer the computers can be booked if you are concerned that you won't get space although a lot of a lot of the language normally just walk in and sit down and you get two hours free as a member if you're not a member there is a guest pass that can be purchased

So if they wanted to print something for like a job application or a CV or something like that but they are someone to help them we're not allowed to actually fill in job applications for people because of GDPR but we can certainly give a lot of help and pointless and tell people what they need to do and how to count to go about doing it you take the pressure off it for people stop being so scary or the other thing we will always try and help with people bringing their iPads or their phones to the best of our abilities will get help people.

Hi Collette how are you just give us a quick introduction just who you are and what your role is at Surrey County Council

So I work with indirect public reform but inside County Council and I work within the public health department so the functions really tackling health initiatives across Surrey and moving towards the whole agenda of no one left behind. Could you tell us a bit more about the work that your team does? My team is called the health and wellbeing team and we was many partners across Surrey put together a bid to the government for funds to help people who I know want to have what's called multiple disadvantage and that means that the person will have three or more of the following issues in their lives so it would be simply seeing the substance misuse or mental health problems and or homelessness or at risk homelessness contact with the criminal justice system or a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse so we put together a bid with a whole range of partners which support people with homelessness mental health and substance misuse domestic abuse and I know you mentioned about the changing futures programme so is that part of that strategy. Yes so the bid that we were successful in signing is called changing futures programme and I think there were 97 local authorities in the country that bid for the money and Surrey is one of 15 areas of the country that was awarded the funds so that's where our money is coming from to help us with the changing futures programme. But can you just explain a bit more about what the changing futures programme is about then what does that look like for vulnerable residents in Surrey ?

Some of the main themes that would put in to our bid and they were driving forward is to implement a complete trauma for informed approach across Surrey and that includes things like training trauma informed training for the voluntary and community sectors that work with the most vulnerable of people and in addition we're bringing in clinical psychological support to assist them if they feel that they need support because these are the people that work for a lot of these punishing community sectors that see a lot of very difficult situations out in the streets of Surrey but secondly we're putting in what's called an outreach service so that means for people who have multiple disadvantage we can be offered up to about 6 hours of care and support in the community we buy the volunteer community sector organisations. Could you give me some examples of that? It very much depends on the individual cause everyone very relevant but it can be supported with registering with a GP or a dentist or filling in forms like for housing benefit or any other benefits to be honest and include things like getting people to appointments so if somebody has to go for a mental health appointment or substance misuse appointment is physically going with them on a number of occasions or if people have been victims of domestic abuse is connecting them with all the right sort of support networks are available across Surrey and being with them I mean sometimes it can be you take people out for a cup of tea or coffee and you talk to them because many people are very socially isolated and where people have multiple disadvantage is sometimes very difficult for them to get on the right track of support in terms of the right worked you team do outside of the changing futures programme as well is there anything else that you could give us an example of in terms of what you're doing to help vulnerable residents.

Yes I think one example is that during the pandemic we had some funds that we set up some temporary crisis accommodation sites and again that was for people that were generally wholeness but had so In terms of Covid and obviously therefore no way to go because many of the hostels are shared accommodation so they had to be closed down and we work very closely with the districts and boroughs and we all collectively came up with an agreement that we would open up a few sites with cabins and then food was delivered with the in partnership with food banks and lots of local charities and sometimes neighbourhoods walkers that would come in and help us with all the food deliveries so they're in the cabins for 10 days and during that time there were offered support from a range of services obviously from a distance but they were offered the services that they required so that when they left the cabins they supported to go onwards. And those pods now being used for the same purpose now that with moving away from the pandemic hopefully. The pictures changed so we've only had a few people in with Covid but we have had an increase in the numbers of people using the cabins that are victims of domestic abuse or with mental health problems and only crisis accommodation situation so we adapt the cabins to the need of the individual and the support that's offered to the person is tailored to their needs one of the other things we are doing is looking at how we can use technology to help people so there are quite a lot of therapeutic tools that can be used to calm people down this example if they're in a hybrid state of alert during trauma and we're looking at all the kind of assistive technology that either under market or which we could pilot that might be able to help and it's lovely to see people coming out of crisis and being able to help others very rewarding. Well thank you contact for your time it's been really great speaking to you and about the work that you and your team did to. thank you. thank you.

Not everyone has the opportunity to go to either college or university so Danielle went to interview Pete who's an apprentice to find out how the apprenticeship scheme works

About six years ago I started as an apprentice in the recruitment team so I think it took me about 12 months to complete the course so you had one day that would be on focusing on training stuff and then the rest of the week I'll be learning on the job search. Took me about 12 months to complete all my assignments. And would you recommend doing an apprenticeship for other people that might be listening to the podcast?

Yeah definitely I wasn't going to go to university before while I wasn't sure I was going to go to university or not but I chose to just do the apprenticeship straight from finishing college and I figured it helped me to just get like the skills that I needed like just through and getting stuck in with work I was able to meet that loads of different people like in the recruitment team that was supportive and allow me to like shadow different areas of the organisations and different pairs of the recruitment team as well then to figure out what I wanted to do and then like left thankfully I was able to secure permanent role in the recruitment team after the apprenticeships are lovely give us those helpful for me to learn all those skills and then when I was able to interview after I was more confident and was able to speak about skills I've learned so far after and I was speaking to me about the different kind of roles available and I guess it's really good that there are so many different roles that people can go into. The skills you learn in any kind of team will be transferable to go to any kind of other teams when in the council they are definitely recommending this yeah you can get into a lot of different kind of jobs after completing your apprenticeship. You don't have to be straight out of college do you to start on apprenticeship you could be any age if you wanted to have the opportunity to develop your kind of knowledge in your skills. Yeah you might have started a career and not want to do it anymore and wanted to get your foot in or start something different.

Hi Emma how are you? . I'm good thanks how are you? Very well thank you so we've been talking to different services across the council about our ambition that no one in Surrey is left behind so part of that is about how we are working with local businesses and education providers to provide apprenticeships for people in Surrey so could you tell us a bit more. Yeah absolutely so we work with a number of different training providers on different apprenticeship standards to offer opportunities both within the council and outside of the council so to give you an example we've currently got over 300 people who work for the council on apprenticeship programmes and that will be across different programmes and therefore we use a number work with a number of different training providers and colleges both local and national they give you an example we've currently got 39 people on the apprenticeship at working towards becoming an operational firefighter in Surrey Fire and Rescue service and recently eight people completed that apprenticeship standard and successfully passed out as qualified firefighters. So apprenticeships now are for people of any age any working age so 16 and above and not limited to young people and they are often a way of upskilling or reskilling as well. As for those that are early on in their career journey so it's 12 months of study so that's the minimum they can be up to five years. Can anyone in Surrey apply for an apprenticeship? yes so certainly with Surrey County Council our apprenticeship vacancies were advertised on our website and on usual recruitment channels like all our vacancies so they're open to be applied by anyone and more widely outside of Surrey you know there are apprenticeship opportunities advertised on the Finding Apprenticeship website for example would be lots of other local employers in Surrey recruiting for apprentices as well.

Hi I'm here at Sunbury Surrey adult learning and I'm here to meet Francis Lawler how are you today ? Fine thank you. And can you just give the listeners an overview of what your job title is and What Surrey adult learning is all about? I'm the principle from adult learning. The role of Surrey is too provide inspiration and inclusive learning to everybody over the age of 19. Our primary focus in many ways is to make sure that people progress in their learning. We're also here to ensure that those who have say, a desire to get an English or math GCSE in their adulthood or to improve their essential digital skills and also to make sure beginning to learn English as a second language. We also have another diverse aspects of things called community learning in which we look to ensure that adults some over the age of 50 come later, for the leisure and pleasure with an expectation that it improves their ability to communicate with others. So today will go and see for example some furniture improvements or going to see say people making a sculpture and water colours as well as you'll see. Others have got learning needs and we helped to make sure that they can maintain and develop their skills so you'll see a real diverse provision here this morning.

OK and you mentioned digital skills what are we talking about there? are we talking about learning how to use social media or are we talking about just basic computer skills like how to do online banking that sort of stuff? We're looking at learners who can't use the phone properly access the Internet make sure that they can say maybe do the direct debit to pop on their phones it's that cater skill so it really is pretty essential and hence why they're doing essential digital skills qualification. And how do residents hear about this sort of thing coz we were talking about digital skills so obviously they're not going to be on Facebook maybe so how do you talk to them is it by outreach ? It's with some partners that we're working with. And lots of people come through via word of mouth some through their families or friends and they often see these seven sites that we have and they come in and visit reception and ask about the provision here.

You mentioned English courses and stuff because I know we've been working on socialising Afghan evacuees in Surrey and obviously English is covering part of that is that Is it something that Surrey adult learning have been involved with? Yes we've done it in association with everyone else over the County Council we've begun offering. We have 60-70 adults looking to see if they can improve their English and their learning ranges from those that used to be doctors right the way down to basic those who have done other jobs, it really is a range.

So you provide a vast range of courses is it free or is there funding or how do people sort of enrol and then do they you know do they have to pay for courses how does that work? Very good question actually we get funding from the government so the vast majority of it is free but we also charge for some provision.

Francis come and show me some of what you're doing here. You can see that already classes in here it used to be a primary school. Here is a class with people with learning difficulties and they've been making a Valentines Card which they are going to give to their mums and dads and help them with other essential life skills and help them to build up their self confidence. It's busy. So in here it's a beginner's upholstery.

A big classroom and the really great thing and this is where you can start off already with something pretty big with bits of wood with a big project or something really simplistic with a skeleton idea and not only do you see what you've produced at the end of it but it's about the process. And often the people coming along to do this afternoon have WhatsApp groups and they meet afterwards they can do social things on a Saturday as well as the end product. So it's the value added effect not just the end product but the social aspect too. Yes I met Weybridge men sheds which was very much about people doing and talking at the same time so you know there's a social benefit too.

Here we can see that people have been painting. So you can see the diversity of what is taught. So here they've started with something and we can see they have progressed and then the progression. Yeah I think even the starting points rather good. We do lots of classes in the evening and we're trying to make sure we are able to offer courses anytime so that people can come along and learn at any time. Brilliant okay thanks for your time today Francis it's been really interesting and if people wanted to find out more about Surrey adult learning what's the web address? The web address is Lovely thanks a lot.

Thanks for listening to episode 6 of the Surrey matters podcast. If you'd like to get in touch with us with a question or an idea for what you'd like to hear about in future episodes, you can email us at You can also subscribe on your podcast player of choice and sign up to our e-newsletter which goes out every month at

This show was hosted by Catherine Jevans. Music and production was by Richard Neale and Surrey Matters is the production of the Surrey County Council communications and engagement team.