East of England librarian recognised as a ‘local service champion’

A Norwich librarian has gained national recognition for her exceptional work in delivering council services, UNISON has announced today.

Jo Foster-Murdoch is one of two runners-up for the union’s local service champions awards, which celebrate the incredible difference council staff make to the lives of people in their area.

Jo was chosen for the support she gives to LGBT+ communities across Norfolk.

She received her award from the shadow communities secretary and competition judge Lisa Nandy MP at UNISON’s local government conference in Liverpool earlier today.

Also recognised were overall winner Jade Carter-Williams, an environmental health officer from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who has established a staff disability network, and fellow runner-up Martine Horner, who secured funding to lead a six-person team helping asylum seekers in South Tyneside.

UNISON set up the awards in 2019 to highlight what it says are the amazing contributions council staff make to their communities.

The winner receives £500 of shopping vouchers, while each runner-up gets £250 of vouchers and all three take home trophies.

Judges* chose their top three from more than 800 council workers, nominated by colleagues, people who use services in the community and local councillors.

Jo was nominated by a colleague because of her work to further inclusivity across Norfolk libraries and beyond.

She has set up LGBT+ story times, runs an LGBT+ history club and has encouraged library managers to boost the collections by painting a filing cabinet pink and branding it the ‘queer history donation station’. This is now taken on tour across the county’s libraries.

Commenting on her award, Jo Foster-Murdoch said: “Libraries are the best place to work — because you’re meeting people, you’re not trying to sell them anything, you’re sharing experiences.

“There are loads of unsung heroes in local authorities going above and beyond all the time, so just to be nominated I was really honoured. When I heard I was in the top three I was just blown away.”

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Local government services touch every aspect of our lives, but all too often the amazing people staffing them are overlooked.

“Jo and her fellow winners thoroughly deserve this recognition for their incredible work. But there are thousands more local workers going above and beyond to support their communities every single day across the country who deserve everyone’s thanks and appreciation too.”

Shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy MP said: “It was a real privilege to present Jo with her award for the inspiring work she has done.

“Like Jo, staff across local government in every part of our country are doing extraordinary things every day to support their communities and it was brilliant to be able to celebrate them all.”