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A bit more about Alison: Winner of Behind the Scenes Award

Updated: Jan 24

Most people who join Kemble either as carers or office staff have the pleasure of meeting or at least speaking to Alison first.

She spends time chatting to potential carers on the phone before they’ve even set foot in the office, helping them to feel relaxed and welcomed and before sorting all the vital paperwork necessary for them to carry out their work. She is the one who thinks about the detail, making people feel more at ease and also adding little details that make the environment a much nicer place to visit and work in. She has the wonderful combination of seeing the importance of the detail and being creative as well as being super organised and positively brilliant at admin work. As Dominic recently said, “Alison is the heart of Kemble” And it is no surprise that she was voted for and won “Behind the Scenes Kemble Award” at the most recent Kemble Awards.

I asked Alison to talk about why she decided to work for a care company, and she laughed and said, “because they offered me a job!” She had become very disillusioned in her work at the council and knew that the only way things would change was if she handed in her notice. That was seven years ago, and she hasn’t looked back. Her role has changed from HR Assistant to Office Manager. Alison really enjoys the opportunities she has been given at Kemble and likes the variety of her job. She is generous in her praise for Kemble “It’s the best place I’ve ever worked; here, you are allowed to shine.She sees that she is trusted to get on with her work.There is a huge amount of trust. Little things like that are really important.

Alison’s job is really varied. How many jobs can there be where you are doing admin one minute and chopping up bunting the next? she laughs. And she explains that there are two main aspects to her work; the serious part – the admin work which can include a range of tasks including reading through and selecting applications for potential carers, responding to everyone who applies as well as helping them through the process. Requesting references, sending off for DBS checks, collating all the paperwork of new carers like sending out payroll forms, contracts and next of kin forms. She has slim lined the paperwork and got rid of unnecessary forms that served no purpose and were wasting time.

Knitted rabbits sitting on a shelf in front of some plants

The other main part of Alison’s work she describes as the fun part – where she gets creative and ensures the office looks lovely and conveys the right message for everyone working at Kemble. And keeps up everyone's spirits. A lot of thought goes into making the space a pleasure to work in and taking good care of everyone. She sends out lovely thank you messages to carers, waters the plants, makes bird boxes, organises cake Fridays, drop in days for the carers and bigger events. She keeps the freezer topped up with ice-creams in the summer and has made miles of bunting from the old uniforms. There are examples of her sense of humour everywhere. “We are at work for a long part of our day, I like making it look beautiful - it started because I saw blank, boring walls and thought that they didn’t look very inspiring.

Alison has a great sense of humour and can be relied upon to make jokes to keep up everyone’s spirits. She is very loyal and likes the way everyone pulls together to help each other. She recognises that everyone has different skills to offer within the team and admits she would not be a good carer as she wouldn’t know what to say to the clients. She shared a story about when the operational team were having to stay behind to sort out lots of hand-backs late into the evening – tea plans were cancelled, and Marisa had to bring her little girl to the office after school so that she could continue working. Alison could only offer moral support but when it got to about 7:00pm she took Marisa’s little girl home with her, via McDonalds, and looked after her until Marisa was finally able to leave the office. We’re all good at that, doing what we can to help.”

Outside of work Alison is a dedicated animal lover. She has been the chairman of the South and East Warwickshire RSPCA branch for the past 21 years. She is heavily involved in running that and raising money throughout the year for the branch to operate. Over the years she has fostered plenty of animals, fox cubs, badger cubs, ducklings, hedgehogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and a little pony called Bandit. These days it is mostly dogs and cats. She is a keen gardener growing lots of flowers (she says that vegetables are too high maintenance!) A top tip from Alison is to go for easy options so buy plants with bigger flowers rather than lots of tiny flowers which take ages to deadhead! She loves spending time with her children and grandchildren and enjoys felting. She doesn’t really see it as a hobby and describes it as a therapeutic way to get to sleep, instead of reading with something to show for it in the end!

Alison is the heart of Kemble, getting on with the necessary paperwork efficiently behind the scenes and making the space much more beautiful, friendlier and welcoming. We all are drawn to her office, for a reassuring chat and a giggle and it certainly wouldn’t feel the same without her.

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