Unit to breathe new life into council services

David Cook (Chair of the new Live Life Aberdeenshire Sub Committee), Cllr Gwyneth Petrie, Cllr Gillian Owen, Cllr Anne Simpson, Cllr Anne Allan, Cllr Iris Walker and Cllr Anne Stirling (Chair of Communities Committee)
David Cook (Chair of the new Live Life Aberdeenshire Sub Committee), Cllr Gwyneth Petrie, Cllr Gillian Owen, Cllr Anne Simpson, Cllr Anne Allan, Cllr Iris Walker and Cllr Anne Stirling (Chair of Communities Committee)

Councillors and partners gathered in Inverurie yesterday for the launch of ‘Live Life Aberdeenshire’.

This is the new name for Aberdeenshire Council’s Sports and Cultural Services, now being run as a unique business unit. The ambition is to allow staff working in a range of sporting and cultural facilities the chance to deliver services in a responsive and flexible way.

A weekend of celebratory events with the theme ‘New Year, New You, New Us’ will be held on 26 and 27 January and will showcase some of the existing sport and cultural opportunities as well as some of the exciting new activities being developed over the course of the next year.

Leisure sites will be offering free come and try taster sessions such as children’s activities, swimming tuition, fun pool sessions, exercise classes and lots more. Libraries are holding storytelling, craft and social sessions. In addition, there are exhibitions and performances in museums. Full details of well over 100 free events taking place at the end of January can be found on the new website at www.livelifeaberdeenshire.org.uk
The new website also offers a range of free downloadable vouchers for items like free family swims, free Macduff Marine Aquarium visits, free cinema tickets and free exercise classes. Competitions for items like swimming passes and theatre tickets will also run across the Live Life Aberdeenshire social media platforms in the coming days.

Live Life Aberdeenshire will continue to be governed by Aberdeenshire Council but offers more flexibility for staff to deliver services in a different way, working with externally recruited industry experts to encourage more people to make use of the services within our communities.

Cllr Anne Stirling, Chair of the Communities Committee, explained: “Since the publication of our ten-year strategies for Culture and Sport in April 2018, we have been working hard on a new model of delivery which will allow elected members and staff to best ensure the needs and demands of Aberdeenshire residents are met and our strategic aims achieved.

“A considerable amount of work is ongoing by staff across several council services to make this possible and residents will reap the benefits in the improved quality of service that will be achieved.”

As part of the new way of working, a sub committee of the Communities Committee has been created to drive the new delivery model and help investigate ways to remove barriers to participation.

David Cook, recently retired Assistant Principal of Banff and Buchan College, is one of the externally recruited industry experts volunteering their time to drive forward Live Life Aberdeenshire.

David, who has held distinguished roles in the charity and business sectors, for which he won the UK Manager of the Year title in 2010, Chairs the Sub Committee. He commented: “I have always been passionate about the contribution that sport and culture can make not only to quality of life but also to people’s fundamental health and wellbeing.

“I am pleased my experience, which includes marketing and funding, will be put to good use and I look forward to helping lead the development of Live Life Aberdeenshire and the benefit this will bring to local communities.”

Cllr Anne Stirling added: “Aberdeenshire Council has stated in its Key Priorities that it will encourage active lifestyles and promote wellbeing with a focus on obesity and mental health. We have also recognised the valuable contribution sport and culture make to raising levels of attainment and achievement in our children and young people. We look forward very much to working with our industry experts and benefitting from the many skills they have generously agreed to share with Council Members and staff.”

John Harding, Head of Service for the newly created Live Life Aberdeenshire, is committed to empowering local staff to deliver services which best meet the needs of their local communities. He said: “We have had a long, hard look at the ways we work together across services and how we can act jointly to ensure we can improve the experiences of service users. This is an ongoing and sometimes challenging process but one that is very rewarding and productive.”

Live Life Aberdeenshire was launched with the signing of a Statement of Ambition which articulates how council services will strive together to make this new, more flexible service work. Live Life Aberdeenshire will be reviewed by the Council after its first year of operation.