One of the things I love most about my role as a council leader is how varied it is.

One minute you can be in a big meeting discussing a strategic challenge, like the budget or addressing climate change. Big debates, complex issues.

The next minute you’re trying to help a resident resolve an issue they’re facing - talking to people one on one, trying to help in a very practical way. No two days are the same.

Most of all though, I am inspired by how so many of our council workers also go above and beyond the call of duty.

Take teachers, teaching assistants and support staff in our schools, who help our children learn and develop in a safe and inspiring way.

Staff in social care help support elderly or vulnerable people to lead independent and fulfilling lives – and save the NHS millions of pounds at the same time.

Staff in children's services help look after children who need us and support families.

Staff out in the community helping others, working in places like our libraries and supporting local groups.

Refuse and recycling collectors out in all weathers, and those looking after our public spaces. All struggling to do their job with less funding thanks to the last 14 years of cutbacks, yet trying to take pride in what they do.

Staff in many of our other services from revenues and benefits to planning and public protection, who work hard behind the scenes.

So many of these people also stepped up during the pandemic, transferring or adapting their roles to help our communities through those dark days.

Remember that in Wales, our test and trace service was run by the hard work of public service staff, not expensive consultants.

Local government workers are stars in our communities.

That’s why I agreed to be a panellist for Unison’s Local Service Champions Awards this year. Eight hundred nominations were received from across the UK, with 11 special nominees going through to the final. Their stories are an inspiration, but they’re just a microcosm of the work that goes on to help others thanks to our workforce.

Take our Play Service in Torfaen, who this week showed me their new provision in the civic centre – a more relaxed and fun place to enable children to play, perhaps when they’re with newly adopted parents who we’re supporting or where assessments or support is needed. Or our Inspire team, helping young people to engage with education and skills in new ways, including art, music, catering and mechanics.

This month I saw our staff from communities and skills teams who attended the recent jobs fair at Congress Theatre, helping people find employment or improve their skills. I also met with Business Direct Service team at the Unleashed Business event at the Parkway Hotel. They’ve developed a single point of contact for local businesses who are looking for support or advice. They can be reached on 01633 648735 or