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Agencia celebrates National Family Business Awards success

The team at Agencia is celebrating after being voted the Best Small Business in the UK at this year’s National Family Business Awards.

We overcame competition from more traditional small business sectors including biscuit-making, DIY retail and a brewery to win the award which was presented during a marathon ceremony at Wembley Stadium.

Judges, who included previous winners and professional advisers, recognised and rewarded Agencia as a small business which is making a big impact by applying family values to complicated, international, modern-day challenges.

In confirming Agencia’s place on the shortlist, the judges said: “We feel you truly encapsulate everything that makes Britain’s family businesses so special and unique.”

They added that Agencia is clearly proud to be a family business, has a brilliant story to tell and is passionate about being a pillar of the local community. They also said they had identified clear loyalty to those who have helped Agencia on our journey, a fantastic brand with a great reputation and dedication and commitment within the business to growth and innovation.

After the national award was confirmed, the awards judges commented: “Agencia’s contribution back into society across the world, with their health and judicial work, is outstanding and speaks volumes about the culture and ethos of the family business which encompasses all that makes family businesses both special and unique.”

The awards are organised by Family Business Place, which works to promote family firms of all sizes and in all sectors by publicising their achievements and celebrating their success.

Helen Gibson, Agencia’s Managing Director, said: “We were delighted when we found out we were shortlisted in all three categories for the north-east. We felt like winners and we celebrated because the regional awards were presented during the first half of the ceremony.

“When the national awards came around and our name was announced we thought we had mis-heard. We were asking if it was really us. It took us a minute or two to realise we had won!

“We didn’t believe it. Now I think wow, fantastic, well done us because it’s so nice as a small business with some pretty challenging things going on. Sometimes you ask yourself if it’s worth it and whether you should have an easier life doing something else but then something like this makes it really special. It’s so nice to be recognised and acknowledged.”

Even before the big announcement had been made, Agencia had supported the awards charity auction by paying £4,000 to sponsor a well for a village of up to 2,000 people and their descendants in Uganda.

The well is designed to provide safe, clean water for a lifetime, in a post-conflict country, and Agencia’s purchase prompted businesses to fund a further two wells.

Helen said: “Nobody else was bidding for it. We had a room full of 350-plus people, some of whom were large, multi-national companies, but it was just something I felt compelled to do. We could just hand the cheque over and get a picture, but we have people who would love to get involved a bit more. I suspect one or two of us will try and go there to help.

“We showed some leadership in the auction and we demonstrated the ethos of our business.”


Examples of the ways in which Agencia is making a difference in the UK and overseas:

UK projects

·         Launched Primary Care Direct –  a “one stop shop” supporting GP practices and federations to grow and develop their business.  Primary Care Direct is providing this support via a consortium of professional services member organisations including DKJ Support Services, BHP Chartered Accountants, Capsticks law firm, and Pinx Creative.

·         Designed and run ‘Rewire’ – a pilot opiate painkiller addiction service.  Inspired by its service users, Agencia were keen to understand the problem, and find new solutions that will work at home and internationally.  Painkiller dependence is a “silent epidemic” and is on the rise. In the last 10 years, UK painkiller prescriptions have risen by 400 per cent. The UK is now ranked sixth in the world for painkiller addiction, but there are few dedicated specialist services to help people.  Rewire has proved highly successful in reducing painkiller misuse by patients, changing lives and reducing costs for NHS services.  It is an evidence-based, whole service system which is proving to be an effective and sustainable approach to tackling a problem many previously considered intractable.  The project received recognition at a national level, winning the award for Best Presented Paper at the Royal College of General Practitioners Conference on Substance Misuse.


·         Applied internationally recognised “Lean” methodology to increase the speed and efficiency of the criminal case management process for Humberside Criminal Justice Board, realising in excess of £100,000 of savings in year one.

·         Sole service provider of “Active Recovery Service” for registered drug users within North Lincolnshire. Combining clinical and psychosocial interventions, this innovative, nationally recognised new service has resulted in achieving above average recovery rates, and 99 per cent of service users saying that they would recommend the service to others. Agencia also achieved a 15 per cent reduction in the cost of providing the service, and has simultaneously secured £177,000 worth of additional external funding.

Active Recovery:

·         Implemented a review for the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development centred on examining the existing commissioning process, resulting in departmental reorganisation leading to more effective and efficient practices.

·         Developed an Integrated Strategic Plan for East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group which was facing authorisation conditions.  As a result of working with Agencia, all conditions have been removed and the group has now been fully authorised.

·         Evaluated the demographic profile of trainee doctors and dentists across London to inform an Equality Impact Assessment and improve provision of cultural competence training for the London Deanery.

·         Implemented a review of the London Ambulance Service to ascertain views on the quality and timeliness of emergency services from the perspective of its users and General Practitioners.

·         Operated in conjunction with 12 UK Local Authorities and four Fire and Rescue Authorities as part of Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships. Key deliverables included delivery of a feasibility study of the collaborative regional service delivery model for all directed contact for children, as determined by the courts.

·         Increased the efficiency of data intelligence systems to improve the quality of dementia care provided by Wigan Council; supporting the delivery of quality risk assessments and pilot interventions.

·         Facilitating Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust to adapt to new organisational structures and ways of working in the development of their commissioning models.

·         Implementation of services to support victims of crime within the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council area, including the delivery of a business case for the future commissioning of services to reduce domestic abuse and sexual violence.


·         Reformed and restructured the courts system to enable Croatia to meet the required standards to join the EU. Through the introduction of effective, standardised case management and bespoke training to Court Presidents, the 1.6 million backlog of cases has been significantly reduced.

·         Delivered a bilateral project with the British Embassy and the Ministry of Health in Tunisia on a new system for coding medical documentation. This coding will enable mapping of clinical pathways (including costing each component) so that the Ministry of Health can make improved intelligence-led decisions about where resources should be apportioned.

·         Implemented a three-year anti-corruption training strategy within Kosovo for judges, prosecutors, police and customs officers, focussing upon the management of intelligence, corruption investigation and the development of cross-border responses to financial crimes.

·         Supported the reform of the Supreme Court of Nigeria for RIPA International (part of Capita Group Plc).

·         Successfully designed and delivered an advocacy training skills programme for the Malaysian Inland Revenue Board.

·         Within a European Consortium, implemented judicial reform and developed alternative sanctions to custody in the form of a Probation Service in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

·         Developed the strategic planning capability of the Prosecutors Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and increased its capacity to tackle corruption, financial crime and money laundering.

·         Delivered training for Patient and Public Participation Groups for SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) midwives in Germany. The training was significant in the development and implementation of participation groups and it maximised the quality and relevance of information to further shape the health service for UK forces oversees.

·         Developed quality assurance and contract monitoring arrangements for five German hospitals providing medical services for UK forces and their families on behalf of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the UK Ministry of Defence.