City of Wolverhampton Council has won a national award for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The authority was recognised by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) today (Wednesday 16 December) by winning the ‘Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative’ category at the organisation's annual awards which recognise high quality public services across the UK.

The council's local support system comprised of a giant food distribution hub set up at WV Active Aldersley leisure centre in just a few days to feed vulnerable people who had been instructed to isolate at home. 

The speed with which it became operational made Wolverhampton one of the first councils in the country to start helping people who had nobody else to turn to during the spring lockdown and attracted national media attention at the time. 

The council also set up the Stay Safe Be Kind helpline to take calls from the public who needed help to collect shopping or prescriptions, advice or even just to hear a friendly voice if they felt frightened or lonely.

Both schemes saw council employees from across a wide array of different services being redeployed into different roles and learning new skills to be able to mobilise these vital new services at just a few days' notice.

The food hub went on to deliver more than one million meals to vulnerable residents.

The Stay Safe Be Kind helpline has received more than 5,000 calls and 3,000 emails and paired up more than 500 people with volunteer helpers.

Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, who himself made weekly deliveries of food to vulnerable people, said: “From day one of this pandemic, our primary objective was to be there for people who needed our help and for our city to look after our own.

“I am immensely proud that our efforts helped so many vulnerable people and this has now been recognised through this national award. We don’t do these things for awards or accolades, we do it because public servants genuinely care about their communities and go the extra mile to help.

“It is very rewarding that everyone’s efforts have been recognised on a national stage and for the wonderful people who work for the council to be acknowledged in this way.”