TWO colleagues received national awards for their work supporting the local community.
Whiteley Shopping Centre’s manager Neil Carter and services manager Russell Wiseman were crowned winners at the British Land Excellence Awards at a ceremony in London’s Leadenhall Building.
The annual awards are held by British Land, co-owner of Whiteley Shopping Centre and 203 shopping and retail centres across the UK, in order to highlight colleagues who go above and beyond in their roles.
Neil, who has worked at Whiteley for three years, picked up the Skills & Opportunity award after making a success of the first Prince’s Trust Get Into Hospitality scheme at the centre.
Neil recruited local young people who needed extra help to get into work and offered support in areas such as confidence and interview preparation. Through the four-week programme, 14 young people were also trained on customer service and teamwork, as well as being invited into restaurants at Whiteley to complete work experience placements.
The programme was a great success, with the majority of candidates going on to secure jobs or returning to college to complete further training.
Neil also organised a ‘takeover day’ at Whiteley for students of Highbury College. This included hosting more than 100 students in work placements and activities in line with their courses including filming, radio, social media and project management.
Neil said: ‘Whiteley is a significant employer in our community and the vast majority of our employees live locally. I wanted to do something to bridge the skills gap in the local area and, since we were extending our leisure and dining offering at the time, it made sense to focus on hospitality.
‘Our participating restaurants were very proud to be involved in the scheme and we’ve received a lot of positive comments from customers and local residents alike.’
Russell, who has worked at Whiteley for three years, scooped his award in the Wellbeing category after he made a big impression on shoppers and colleagues.
After one family enquired to Whiteley’s lost property department about their little girl’s lost toy, Russell took it upon himself to replace it and deliver it to the family as a gift from the team.
Using his self-taught technology skills, he also fixed a colleague’s laptop in his own time to save them paying an £800 repair bill.
Russell said: ‘It’s important to be kind to people generally in life, and a big part of what makes Whiteley a success is that people know how friendly all of the members of the team are.
‘Little gestures can be very powerful when it comes to making an impression on people and I’m really proud to have been recognised for this award by my colleagues.’