MBE for council catering manager Kim Phillips

MBE for council catering manager Kim Phillips

By David Parker | 04/01/2022

MBE for council catering manager Kim Phillips

 

A CATERING manager who oversaw the delivery of thousands of free school meals during the pandemic has been recognised by the Queen for more than 30 years of public service.

Kim Phillips, head of catering and facilities services at Rotherham Council, said she had been “floored” when she learned she would be getting an MBE in the monarch’s New Year’s Honours List.

The Wickersley parish councillor was chosen for the gong for working “tirelessly” to support essential frontline services such as cleaning, school catering and school crossing patrols.

Kim (54, pictured), who has lived in Wickersley for 23 years, was said to have “always led from the front”, having set up lateral flow testing areas and even set off at dawn on her days off to help prepare meals for school children during the holidays.

She helped to pack 3,000 school hampers during the Easter break for children who would otherwise get free school meals — even enlisting the help of her family.

In her role at the council, Kim is responsible for more than 1,000 caterers, cleaners and staff working across the borough — ensuring schools, libraries and other public buildings are well-maintained.

“With Covid, we have been doing our best to make sure everything is clean to keep people and our staff safe – such as touch points and frequent cleaning to help reduce the spread of Covid,” she said.

“[In schools] we have done quite a lot more cleaning to make sure parents, staff and children are safe and to make sure parents have got confidence in the environment that their children are in.”

Kim said providing free school meals during the holidays had been a challenge for her staff — but her husband Nick and daughter Rebecca had helped her with the logistics of delivering thousands of meals to children across the borough.

She said another big challenge had been staff isolating during the pandemic and ensuring she had enough staff to do the cleaning.

“Whereas before Covid we might have had that problem every couple of weeks, it is now almost on a daily basis making sure the staff and logistics are sorted,” she said.

“Along with the issues of setting up a lateral flow testing centre and demands within the school environment – they might have had an outbreak and want a deep clean – it has been an absolutely huge challenge.

“The staff are just as enthusiastic and turn out every day.

“This is recognition for all of them and recognition of the hard work of frontline staff.”

Kim said news of the MBE had “totally and utterly floored her”.

“It has been quite difficult not to tell anybody,” she said.

“It has been such a lot to think about — you don’t think anything like this is ever going to happen to you.”

Kim said Covid had helped to raise the profile of the cleaning industry — something she is working on in her role as chair of the Association of Building Cleaning Direct Service Providers and as a director of the British Cleaning Council.

“People used to think cleaning fairies came in and they only got noticed when things went wrong,” she said.

“They were an invisible workforce that nobody noticed.”

Kim previously worked for South Yorkshire Police for 15 years in various roles in Sheffield, supporting the force as it tackled issues such as gun crime and football violence.

She settled in the role of business manager, becoming responsible for finances, staff welfare, cleaning and catering.



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