Council unit wins prestigious prize

Mayor coun Myra Whiteside with chief executive Wigan council Donna  Hall and adoption support workers
Mayor coun Myra Whiteside with chief executive Wigan council Donna Hall and adoption support workers

WIGAN’S pioneering adoption service is celebrating its first anniversary in style after scooping two prestigious awards.

WWiSH adoption service – run by Warrington, Wigan and St Helens councils – won two prizes at the Improvement and Efficiency Awards 2013, a national competition honouring excellence in the public sector.

At a ceremony in London, staff from WWiSH were handed gold in the Working Together category and bronze in the Innovation in Social Care category.

WWiSH is one of only two council services to win two prizes.

The award success came only a few weeks after the service was praised in a government report.

The Department for Education cited WWiSH as a good example of local authorities working together in a report called Further Action on Adoption: Finding More Loving Homes.

WWiSH is the only combined service of its kind in the North West and one of only two in the country.

WWiSH was set up in March 2012 by the three councils who agreed to merge their adoption services to save money, improve quality and in response to the government’s pledge to speed up the process.

Since then, 55 children have been adopted and the shared service has been able to cut the length of time children must wait before being placed with an adoptive family.

A successful marketing and publicity campaign to recruit potential adopters saw a surge in those coming forward.

WWiSH had 34 prospective candidates approved and currently has another 42 would-be parents being assessed.

Ruth Fitzgerald, WWiSH adoption manager, said: “It’s been a great first year for the service and I’m delighted all our hard work has been recognised.

“Getting two Improvement and Efficiency awards is a great achievement and testament to the efforts of our staff. And I’m pleased the government, who have placed such importance on improving the adoption process, have also recognised our pioneering approach.

“It’s a real achievement to get 55 children adopted into loving, permanent homes in the space of 12 months. The process is complex and time-consuming.

“We merged our services to try and speed up that process and give children needing permanent homes more opportunities. So far, it seems to be working.

“We’ve been able to attract a significant number of new adopters in our first year. We currently have 85 children across the three councils in need of a new home.”

n Could you provide a forever family for a child awaiting adoption? If so, contact WWiSH - call 01942 487272, email or go to