Carlton Espley, Tenancy Sustainment Officer, Stafford Borough Council has been recognised for the practical support he has been providing to keep rough sleepers off the street during lockdown and to secure tenancies after lockdown.
Carlton was nominated for the West Midlands Employers (WME) #EverydayHeroes campaign by his Chief Executive and a number of other managers for his role during the pandemic. When the government urged councils to ‘get everyone in’ and make sure rough sleepers were off the streets and safe Carlton was on the frontline, working around the clock, to make this happen.
Whilst there were just a small number of rough sleepers when lockdown started in Stafford this number soon increased as those sofa surfing or in unsustainable housing found themselves needing help.
At a time when other support services suspended face to face contact Carlton was determined not to let those in need of support down. He has been the only support worker and, as a result, has been working day in day out to deal with a variety of crises and help rough sleepers keep their accommodation.
There are numerous examples of how Carlton has helped turn people’s lives around and building their confidence is very much part of what Carlton does. One man used to live in a tent just off the high street and has been in and out of prison many times for petty crime, often drug related. The lockdown gave him a roof over his head for the first time for years which meant Carlton could help him secure his first ever flat and provide additional support to ensure he keeps it.
Tim Clegg, Chief Executive at Stafford Borough Council, says, “Carlton makes me proud to work for a district council. He knows our local community and has continued to support our most vulnerable citizens at the most challenging time any of us can remember.”
Carlton joined the Borough Council three years ago, coming from a bigger team in Stoke. Prior to this he spent 18 years working at the Royal Doulton Pottery, from age 16, doing various jobs including working on the Royal Doulton Ladies figurines on quality control after being in the kiln. When the factory closed he did some voluntary work with the homeless hostel in Stoke and gradually worked his way up.
He loves his role at the Borough Council. Carlton says, “I get a massive sense of achievement doing good things for people. If you really want to make a difference to people - who are at rock bottom and feel there’s no way out – you really can be the one to make that difference – that’s so rewarding.”
As more people look for jobs Rebecca Davis, Chief Executive of West Midlands Employers says, “Carlton’s story is a great example of how someone has used their transferable skills gained from previous job roles to move into local government. He clearly had the core values in terms of wanting to help others, which has led to a career path supporting homelessness.”
Local authority improvement body WME, owned by 33 councils across the West Midlands, launched the campaign to recognise #EverydayHeroes – council workers who are working around the clock to keep essential services running and keep us safe through the coronavirus crisis.
Press Release No 5671