An amazing journey in Thurrock- ending in a service award in 2020!

13 January 2021 · Categories: Awards, Communities Care, Innovators Learn

I first met Les Billingham back in 2014 when he was Assistant Director of Adult Social Care and Community Development at Thurrock Council. He was keen for Community Catalysts to actively support the Council to develop community micro-enterprises in the borough. Back then, no one had heard the term “community micro-enterprise”…now it’s on everyone’s lips!

In the early days of Community Catalysts I had the pleasure of supporting Sue Wellard, a commissioner (employed by Thurrock Council), to adopt our innovative approach and use our tools and resources to support local people to help other people by setting up their own community micro-enterprises. Sue quickly developed her programme and has loved the opportunity to work with local people at every level – individuals with good ideas, as well as local organisations and businesses with great community assets that can benefit entrepreneurs. Over the years, the project was extended, culminating in Sue’s post becoming a permanent one…Music to our ears! Since then, Sue has stayed in partnership with us at Community Catalysts and now acts as a great support to our other local Catalysts across the country.

In December 2020, Sue’s work was nationally recognised by the Association for Public Service Excellence who celebrate the best in local government. She won the service award for the ‘Best Community and Neighbourhood Initiative (inc. Community Safety)’category – what a great way to end the year! See here for more info APSE Service AwardsRead more about the award entry.

Community Catalysts are so pleased that Sue’s work and the council’s commitment to transformation has been recognised.

Helen Allen
Operations Manager – Community Catalysts

“I have had the privilege of being supported by “Comm Cats” to develop the Micro Enterprise Programme in Thurrock.  From small beginnings nearly five years ago and a handful of enterprises, the scheme has now grown until we now have over 140 entrepreneurs offering a really wide range of support; everything from personal care and support at home to community gardens, lunch clubs and specialist support for people with disabilities.  I produce a monthly booklet that is widely distributed and is now becoming the first port of call for Social Workers and Housing colleagues who need to find a local service to support a particular person.  The list is also distributed to a range of partner organisations such as the DWP, local Hospital, and Women’s Aid and there is a growing confidence in using local people to provide specific solutions for people in the community.

The pandemic has unfortunately seen a rising increase in unemployment and people furloughed from their substantive job roles. However the upturn to this situation has been an increase in referrals to the programme from local residents taking the opportunity to change career and achieve a better life/work balance by setting up a local enterprise and this will no doubt continue as the country comes out of the present situation.

Throughout this period, local community micro-enterprises have been adapting, offering services online where possible and collaborating with the Council to work together to support local residents.

I am incredibly proud of being a part of this movement and of the local entrepreneurs who work so hard and really do deserve this award.”    

Sue Wellard
Micro-Enterprise Development Manager – Thurrock Council


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