May 2017


Gillian is a powerhouse behind the scenes

Warwickshire County Council has recently launched a new project to help people into work - and in Gillian Dale they have the perfect person behind the scenes.

Gillian, based in the council's Economy & Skills Group at Barrack Street, recently joined the council as a contracts and projects officer with responsibility for the Active Inclusion Project which has two strands: Helping people with mental health issues into employment and trying to put young offenders back on to a constructive life-path.

In both, the hands-on work is delivered by specialists in their field: staff from Rethink Mental Illness (a support service for people affected by mental illness) and Youth Justice (working with young people, parents and families to prevent and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour) respectively.

They do the 'front-line' stuff. But also crucial to the success and efficiency of the schemes is that, behind the scenes, all the relevant financial and legal matters are addressed.

And that is very much Gillian's specialist area. She is passionate about details - as befits her motto: "Happiness is a well-maintained spreadsheet."

"Number-crunching is what I do," she said. "It's where my experience lies and I enjoy the processes and pressures of making sure that everything is accurate and compliant. It's really important that all is done correctly.

"The project that I am involved with at the council will do excellent, life-changing work towards getting people into employment or education/training. And while we have great people who are hands on, so to speak, everything needs to fit together logistically. That's where I come in."

Gillian has arrived at Warwickshire County Council with heaps of relevant experience. Originally from Scotland, she graduated in physics from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, but moved down to Warwickshire 20 years ago when her husband began working at Jaguar Land Rover.

She worked briefly as a secondary school teacher in Coventry, then as a data analyst for eight years at Millward Brown. The last seven years she has spent as a contracts officer at Advance, a Solihull-based organisation which had helped hundreds of people with disabilities, into work. That was work which, Gillian thoroughly enjoyed, and had no intention of leaving until fate took a hand.

"I loved it at Advance and was not looking to leave," she said. "But one day I was browsing some job-sites for a friend and came across this one at the council. I thought, hold on, 'that's me!' It's in exactly the field I have been working in for years but is a lot closer to home.

"The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. So I was absolutely thrilled to get the job - and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I have joined a really good, dedicated team and have a couple of important project strands to get my teeth into."

Both those strands to the project, as to be expected from the importance of the work they do, come with a considerable amount of paperwork. So Gillian, is spending a lot of time with Coventry-based Rethink  and the Warwickshire County Council-run Youth Justice,  based at the court building in Leamington Spa, to get to know people and systems.

"There are a lot of regulations and compliances to meet and some people think it is a massive challenge, but really it's not," she said. "It's just a question of knowing what you are doing and being thorough and well-organised."

You need, above all, somebody who knows exactly what they are doing. And in Gillian, Warwickshire County Council have exactly that.


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