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Civil Service

Civil Service Awards 2020: The Collaboration Award

CS Awards 2020, Shielding Team, MHCLG

The Collaboration Award was taken home by the Shielding team from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Their Shielding programme was a mammoth operation across multiple departments and agencies, set up in March 2020 to provide advice and support to those most vulnerable to COVID-19 in order to keep them safe.

Delivering 4.7m food boxes

In collaboration with a huge number of departments and agencies, involving local government and local delivery partners, in just four months, 2.2 million people were contacted by the programme and 1.2 million signed up to the website. Furthermore, the team helped deliver 4.7 million food boxes to over half a million people at highest risk from COVID-19.

The award was presented by Mike Driver, Interim Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, and Rhona Parry, Chief Executive of Indesser. Reflecting on how it felt to hear them announce the Shielding team as the winner, Ben Llewellyn, Director of the programme, said it was, “amazing” and “such a team effort.”

Accepting the award, Ben said:

It may be a bit of a cliché talking about something being a team effort, especially as this is the collaboration award, but it really was exactly that - people across departments working together to protect those most vulnerable to the virus - saving, I’m certain, many lives as a result. Thanks to all those that literally worked night and day to set up the shielding service in a matter of days and building it up to what it is now - this award is for all of you.

Helping save lives

The team remains motivated by hearing positive feedback from the people they have helped. “Hearing from those shielding about how we’ve supported them gives us a real sense of purpose. We all feel strongly that we’re helping to save lives.”

They also have some key advice for anyone else working in crisis response, at a fast pace and in a pressurised environment: “In the context of responding to crisis situations - don’t let the best be the enemy of the good. Establish something good enough and improve from there.”

Ben describes his Civil Service career as interesting and fulfilling, sharing that he particularly enjoys the collaboration that is required on a daily basis, saying: “We all had our small parts to play but it adds up to something incredible.”

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, Ben notes that “One way or another, we’ll all have roles to play helping get the country back on its feet. I’m sure the can-do spirit fostered during the crisis will help us do an amazing job.”

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  1. Comment by ruby dixon posted on

    Jacqui - I must add that Jacqui and the DWP team pulled expertise from across the UK to put the whole system in place at pace, with surge staffing and real time iteration and learning whilst the system handled thousands of calls each day. Incredible feat!

  2. Comment by Ruby Dixon posted on

    Yes, well done to Jacqui and the DWP who articulated a massive list of things that needed to happen for us to set up the automated telephone line. I remember waves of anxiety when I rang her about whether we could do it as MHCLG doesn't have that sort of operational expertise and Jacqui was so brilliant. An hour later the whole team was on the line guiding us through it. This is a fantastic achievement for everyone in every corner of government who worked together to keep vulnerable people safe.

  3. Comment by Liz H posted on

    Well done to all involved but particularly our team in DWP! Well done Jacqui and team.