07 Jan 2019, Meredith Jones Russell
TELL US ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL.
The Partnership Council includes a representative from each nursery and acts as the public face of employee ownership at Childbase. We debate things like employment or contract terms. For example, we recently got the hours in our full-time contracts reduced from 40 to 37.5. Or sometimes we discuss things that seem relatively small, like staff getting access to Wi-Fi so they can use social media in their breaks.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GET INVOLVED?
I’ve always been a bit of a geek, so I thought finding out more about the business side and helping the company make decisions for the benefit of everyone would be interesting. I was elected to the council eight years ago and, in 2017, after Childbase Partnership moved to full employee ownership, I became the first elected chair. Recently I won the ‘Employee Owner of the Year’ award.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AS CHAIR INVOLVE?
I look after councillors, set the agendas of our quarterly meetings and hold the executive team to account. One of my first tasks was to introduce a training programme for councillors so they can question the executive team confidently and say if they don’t agree with an answer. It’s very exciting to be able to do that. The first training session was on finance.
HOW DOES YOUR ROLE AS DEPUTY MANAGER INFORM YOUR WORK ON THE COUNCIL?
The things that people want can change quickly. I think the executive team appreciates having people who are still on the shop floor who can notify them of changes.
WHAT WILL THE COUNCIL BE LOOKING AT THIS YEAR?
We are going to focus on employee ownership as the group is expanding. The management team has supported me to go part-time at Woodcote, which will enable me to spend more time in other settings. I want to make sure staff fully understand employee ownership and realise their voice makes a difference. Part of that will be getting my face out there so they know there is someone in their corner. Employee ownership is still very unique. It is a great thing, and is the reason I don’t ever intend to leave.