Happy Hanukkah – Jewish festival of lights


As well as Christmas, this time of year also brings the festival of Hanukkah. This is the Jewish Festival of Lights.

This year, Hanukkah began on the Sunday 18 December and ends on Monday 26 December. The festival lasts for eight days. Its origins date all the way back to 164 BC when Judah re-took the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, restoring and re-dedicating the temple to the Hebrew God.

Hanukkah, meaning ‘dedication’, commemorates the miracle of light that occurred during the restoration of the Holy Temple. There was only one vial of oil left to light the temple’s candelabrum, which seemed severely insufficient, but the candelabrum stayed lit for eight days, allowing more oil to be acquired to complete the full restoration and dedication of the temple.

During Hanukkah, it is tradition to have an eight-candle menorah in remembrance of this miraculous event, lighting a single candle each day to signify the eight days that the candelabrum stayed aflame for.

Hanukkah is seen as a ‘home holiday’, with no ritual taking place at the synagogue. Families celebrate Hanukkah at home with loved ones. Gifts are exchanged on the sixth night of Hanukkah between family and friends and many also make donations to charities.

We wish a happy Hanukkah to all our staff and service users who are observing the festival this month.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back”


Tracey Webster is a Branch Manager for one of our City & County care companies. Here she talks about why she works in care and the different roles she’s held:

How long have you worked in care?
“I’ve worked in the care sector for 35 years. I used to work in a care home but then I moved into dom care. I started my career as a care worker in Manchester but then moved to Wales about 21 years ago. I’ve had a very varied career in a nutshell.”

How did you progress to your branch manager role?
“While doing care work, I went on to become a care supervisor quite quickly, and then stepped up to become a care coordinator.

In 2006 went for a branch manager job where I was working at the time. I  felt I had the passion the role needed. So I went for it –  and got the job.”
Why did you choose to work in care?
“Main reason for me, was to look after people. I’d see old people struggling as they’re walking down the street, and my heart would go out to them. My grandma would often say ‘there’s an old lady down the street needs some help’. We would go and do her shopping for her and elderly neighbours and so on. They didn’t have any care in place as far as we knew.

It’s something I always wanted to do. Initially, I wanted to be a nurse but I decided on care instead due to the flexibility.

I’ve always wanted to give something back to the community.”

Our Care Coordinator of the Year – Claire Bulmer

Read our interview Claire Bulmer – winner of the ‘Care Coordinator of the Year Award ’ at our Care Heroes Awards 2022. Claire was presented the award earlier this year at a special awards ceremony. Claire currently works as care coordinator for Careline, Newcastle branch.

(Claire (left) receiving her award from Wendy McCall, Regional Director)

What does your role as care coordinator involve?

“I compete care rotas trying to ensure the clients have continuity; I also help social care get their care packages into place through our company. I ensure our compliance is up-to-date with CQC guidelines. I check in on our service users via phone calls.”

You’ve worked in care for many years – how do you stay motivated in your role?

“Knowing our services users’ care is being met and the care workers are happy keeps me motivated. It’s nice to know I help even if it’s a small part.”

How did you feel about winning Care Coordinator of the Year?

“I was very surprised to learn that I had initially been shortlisted. So when I won the award on the night, I couldn’t quite believe it! My first thought was – ‘are you sure?’. I was very shocked.”

What’s your relationship like with the rest of your team and your care workers?

“I’ve got an amazing team of care workers, I used to work alongside them when I was a care worker; we work really well together.”

What made you go for a job in care?

“I used to work as a nursery nurse. I started out working part-time in care because I needed a job that fit around my kids. So, I began doing g care work while my kids were at school during the day.”

You worked as a care worker for a number of years. What was the best thing about being a care worker?

“It’s so rewarding. No two days are ever the same. It’s so rewarding sitting with someone who doesn’t have any family. If you’re the only person they see that day, even for ten minutes, it makes a big difference in somebody’s life. It really does.

“Even as a care coordinator, I’m still out on weekends delivering care because when we are short staffed – I’m happy to do that. I’m happy to wear the t-shirt and pitch in.”

What would you say are the are the qualities you need to work in care? 

“You’ve got to have a clear head on you. A clear mind. Never be frightened to ask for help. You need to be sociable, be able to make small talk, people love it. You need a good memory – being able to remember the little details in people’s lives. When it comes to personal care – you’ve got to be able to do it without batting an eye. You’ve got to be able to make them feel comfortable and put them at ease.”

What would you say are the biggest challenges working in care?

“You’ve got to be able to be able to deal with all types of situations; some clients are easy going, some have mental health issues; some people need the care but don’t want it, they don’t want to rely on people. You’ve got to be able to deal with those challenges.”

Working in care can be quite stressful at times, what do you do to look after your wellbeing, mentally and physically?

“I find exercise and a healthy diet helps. I also make sure I have time off to switch off and relax.”

What do you do in your spare time – outside of work?

“I enjoy a swim in the morning before work this sets me up for day. I do this four mornings a week. I love spending time and doing activities with my young daughter.”


Emma Dixon, Branch Manager at Careline Newcastle, nominated Claire for the award and commented, “I put Claire forward for the award as she is amazing. If it wasn’t for her the branch wouldn’t be what it is today. She is kind, caring and very understanding. She is always happy to help her team and wouldn’t see anyone struggle.”

Midway Care Group Awards – celebrating outstanding care


Friday 11 November saw the first ever Midway Care Group (MCG) Awards taking place at Edgbaston County Cricket Ground in Birmingham. The event recognised the inspirational work of staff at MCG, which delivers care to over 200 adults from across the West and East Midlands.

The awards event was a special occasion to shout about successes and thank those who have given so much to so many. Altogether there were eight different award categories, with 300 nominations received.

Well done to all those who won or were shortlisted – you are all a great example of excellence in care.

The care worker awards presented on the night were:

• Support Worker of the Year – Jennifer Ghent

• Changing Lives award – Owolabi Oyakhire

Dignity in Care Awards – two well-deserved winners


Two of our care workers from MiHomecare (Holloway branch), recently won at the 2022 Islington Dignity in Care Awards.

Well done to:
Sarah Nakato – who won Carer of the Year (Domiciliary care and Reablement sector)
Ahad Kaidoo – who won Carer of the Year (Supported Living sector)

Both winners have been commended for their excellent and professional attitudes, being described by their nominators as “polite; calm; professional; empathetic; helpful; happy, and chatty”.

Thank you – Sarah and Ahad – for being great role models for the care worker profession.

“Be extra conscious of the power of kindness” –  James Thorburn, CEO


Sunday 14 November was World Kindness Day and we wanted to highlight this event. 

Kindness is a core value for everyone in care. The way we work together and how we behave makes such a difference. Kindness helps us to feel connected with one another. It is good for our mental wellbeing. It motivates and inspires. It spreads happiness.

I’m proud of everyone in the City & County family who day in day out show kindness and compassion. I see such fantastic examples of this amongst our care workers and branch teams when I visit them and go out on care calls.

Our Care Heroes Award winners this year are great examples of kindness is action, but I know there are many more of you out there who are going above and beyond every day and making a world of difference to our service users lives with simple acts of kindness.

So, whether you are on the frontline, working in a branch, or in a central operations support team, let’s always try to be extra conscious of the power of kindness and the difference it makes as we go about our busy lives.

Thank you to all our City & County staff for everything you do.


BBC Award for Angela Read


Congratulations to our care worker Angela Read, who recently won an award at the BBC Essex ‘Make a Difference Awards’.

Angela has been with Guardian Homecare (a City & County company) for 18 years and is a valued member of the team.

More information about Angela and the awards can be found in the article BBC Make a Difference: Essex heroes who go ‘extra mile’.

Well done Angela on this amazing achievement!

CRISTAL clear win for City & County staff

We’re delighted to announce that staff from Careline and Comfort Call had a successful night at the CRISTAL Care Awards ceremony on Friday 14th October, where they picked up two awards.

The CRISTAL Care Awards recognise the dedicated work that benefits people receiving care across Tameside and Glossop from an independent provider.

Vicki Kinder – Leads the way

Our first featured winner is Vicki Kinder who received the award for ‘Leading the way’. Vicki currently works as branch manager at Careline, Tameside, and has been in the role since 2021. She started off as a care worker, moving on to care coordinator and is now branch manager. Vicki currently manages three coordinators, three senior carers and 68 care staff. Vicki has been noted by colleagues for her professional attitude, and the positive way in which she leads her branch.

When asked about her win, Vicki said, “I was over the moon and so pleased to be recognised…I’m very lucky, I have an amazing team of care workers, seniors, and branch staff – all of them are brilliant. We work as a team and have good relationships with one another.”

One of the initiatives Vicki has been recognised for is the weekly social club she has started. The club runs once a week at the branch office – Poppy House. The club is open to all service users and gives them the opportunity to take part in a range of activities. It particularly benefits service users who are less mobile as it provides them with a weekly outing, away from their homes, and a chance to socialise. So far, the club has been a real success with around 18 to 22 service users attending each week. Activities include bingo, quizzes, and birthday parties and more. Recently the club has hosted pumpkin carving in preparation for Halloween and held a Queen’s Jubilee party in the summer.

Vicki was driven to work in the care sector due to her experiences of seeing her dad being cared for when he was ill. Unfortunately, her dad passed away at a young age and this made her even more determined to work in health and care. She wanted to make a difference.

Comfort Call’s inspirational team

Our second featured winner is the care team from Comfort Call, Tameside – awarded in the category for ‘Inspirational and Innovative Practice’.

Local District Nurse, Farrer Amjar, nominated the team for their enthusiastic involvement and achievements in a pilot scheme where several care workers were trained to administer insulin to service users who are living with diabetes. This was the first pilot of its kind.

The care team at Comfort Call now has three care workers who are trained in insulin administration: Mcauley Edwards, Jordan Cusak, and Debra Dodds. The training took six to eight weeks to complete and addressed the specific needs of each service user.

Mandy Hall, Branch Manager, said “Our team was absolutely delighted to win this award. The pilot shows that care workers can and are willing to take on more variety in their roles. Our trainees did a fantastic job and have demonstrated a level of responsibility not usually given to them. We hope this achievement inspires other branches to develop their care workers’ skills even further so they can make an even bigger difference to people’s lives.”

Happy Diwali!

Happy Diwali to all our care workers, support staff and clients who will be celebrating the festival.

What is Diwali?

Diwali is an important festival for those who follow the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain religions. It also known as the ‘festival of lights’ as families light candles and traditional oil lamps in their homes.

When is Diwali?

The date for Diwali changes every year because it is based on the Hindu lunar calendar. It usually falls sometime between October and November and this year Diwali is on Monday 24 October.

Why is Diwali celebrated?

For Hindus, the festival celebrates the ancient legend of Lord Rama, and his triumph over of the evil spirit Ravana.

For Jains, Diwali is the day when the Lord Mahavira, attained nirvana (enlightenment).

For Sikhs, Diwali celebrates the victory of their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, who escaped imprisonment from an Emperor in 1619.

The overall meaning of Diwali, for all, is the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and wisdom over ignorance.

How is Diwali celebrated?

Diwali is celebrated with religious worship; the sharing of traditional Indian sweets and food; exchanging gifts; fireworks displays; and the lighting of candles.

We would like to wish a “Happy Diwali” to all those who will celebrating the festival of lights on Monday. Enjoy the celebrations!

Care Heroes spotlight – Specialist Care Worker of the Year 2022 – Ben Kelly

This week, we are shining a spotlight on Ben Kelly – winner of the ‘Specialist Care Worker of the Year Award’ at City & County’s Care Heroes Awards 2022.

Ben has worked in care for 14 years and has been with his current client for the past eight, offering 24-hour support to him three days a week.

Branch manager, Jackie McCormack, at Guardian Homecare Blackpool, nominated Ben for the award due to his commitment, professionalism, and resilience.  Jackie said, “The client can be aggressive and very demanding, we only have a small cohort of staff who will go into this location, but Ben’s commitment and patience has kept his service user in his home and inspired his entire team.”  This client’s aggressiveness goes beyond what is manageable to most. But there is one person the client can always count on to show up day in and day out: Ben.

At one point, the council was pushing to put the client into a secure facility, but Ben pushed back. He has figured out what can keep his client calm, he knows how to manage his personality shifts. Ben deals with his client’s physical and mentally challenging behaviour daily – so we sat down with Ben to uncover the secret to his unflappable dedication. (Ben is pictured below, with HR Director Judith Lyons, at the Care Heroes Awards ceremony).

It sounds like there are some very hard days. How do you stay motivated?

I don’t take anything personally. If he gets aggressive or insulting; I know he doesn’t mean it. He does it with everyone. I see past his actions and focus on the fact that he is struggling and needs my help.

What is the biggest challenge of working with this client?

The unpredictability is definitely the hardest part. I never know who I am going to get. It is a challenge trying the empathise and be patient with all his personalities, which change throughout the day. I must always stay on my toes.

I care about my client, and I couldn’t accept the idea of him being locked up. I know at his home, with my support, he can have a much better quality of life. We go on outings, cook together, chat and have the freedom to explore. He has a car that was fitted for him that he drives us around in and he loves that.

What brought you into care?

My family. My sisters are support workers. They are nurses. My mum is a registered manager in care. My mum used to do respite with clients with Learning Disabilities. They would come to our house, and I would interact with them. It came naturally to me.

What do you like about your job?

It doesn’t feel like a job.  I like helping clients who are unable to help themselves. If my client didn’t have a staff member, his life would be much worse. I like being able to give people better lives.

Do you feel supported by your team?

I have an incredible team. The Blackpool branch manager and team leaders go above and beyond to make sure I am ok and have the support I need. They are always at the end of the phone, and they are happy to step in, roll up their sleeves and help if I need it. I couldn’t have lasted without them. I know that I am never alone.