August’s L & D Blog

Welcome to the August edition of the CLoG Learning and Development blog.

August 2nd 2017 would have been James Baldwin’s 93rd birthday. The American writer and social critic was born in Harlem, New York in 1924. He grew up in a large, poor family but school gave him the opportunity to show case his abilities. Baldwin’s literary talents were recognised early on by his teachers, particularly after he wrote one of his first plays, aged 9. He then followed in the foot-steps of his step-father to become a Pentecostal preacher aged 14, but soon realised that writing was his calling. In 1948, at age 24, Baldwin left for Paris, where he hoped to find enough distance from the American society he grew up in to write about, and critique, it. These occurrences are documented in Baldwin’s collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son.

Baldwin’s essays in particular gave voice to the complexities of racial tensions in the United States, highlighting the ways in which sexuality and class distinctions also shaped, and rebuked, existing narratives around identity.

I have really enjoyed learning a bit more about James Baldwin while researching for the post and I hope you’ll enjoy the selection of images and quotes below. Of course, it does no real justice to Baldwin’s brilliance to simply use a handful of his quotes, yet it is also a testament to the writer’s relevance that these can stand alone beyond the context in which they were written, carrying more than just platitudes and offering more than just momentary inspiration: they make you think.

If you haven’t already, I hope this post will make you want to delve into some of James Baldwin’s work.

In this edition…

  1. CLoG Activities

  2. Regional opportunities

  3. DCLG and BEIS

  4. Beyond CLoG

  5. News and Reviews – featuring fun and games!

    JB 1 James Baldwin in New York, 1963. Photograph: Dave Pickoff/AP

1. CLoG Activities

Quiet Leadership

We hear a lot about everyone in the Civil Service being a leader, but perhaps less about we all lead in different ways.  It’s easy fall into the trap of creating an ideal in your mind about what a good leader might be: comfortable in the spotlight, gregarious, vocal or, simply, “alpha”.  But over recent years there has been a growing recognition that modelling ourselves on such a template might not always be a good thing.  For some people, these sorts of behaviours come naturally, and it’s right to play to these strengths.  But, as teams, we should also think about the benefits of quiet leadership too.

We’ve all probably thought at some point about where we each fit on the introvert-extravert scale, with the reality being that we each have a range of different tendencies, behaviours and predispositions that fall across this spectrum, depending on the environment we’re in at a given time.  In the effect, this spectrum is just a way of explaining how different people respond differently to stimulation: speaking very crudely, introverts get their energy from inside themselves and need solitude to recharge, whereas extraverts get their energy from interpersonal interaction and recharge by socialising.  But research over recent years has highlighted that the most successful and creative organisations are those which encourage leadership and behaviours at both ends of this spectrum.  So, to challenge assumptions and form consensus, they embrace extraversion through collaborative and group-based ways of working.  But, to avoid groupthink and organisational inertia, they support introversion, by allowing individuals the time and space to reflect.

This raises some really interesting questions for us as a Unit: how can we ensure we encourage a breadth of leadership styles? How can we ensure everyone has a voice? How can we find different ways to reward success?  But the big message from all of this is that we should be open-minded to different types of leadership, whilst acknowledging that, in practice, sometimes we all need to operate in ways which don’t come naturally.  To help us to do so, the team has put together a Quiet Leadership Slide Pack which gives a background to quiet leadership and outlines core learning opportunities in this area, including personality assessments which teams can use to think about how to make the best of the range of skills they have within them.

Jo Cagney spoke about the Industrial Strategy team’s experience of doing so:

Our team has spent some time over recent months discussing the range of approaches to the way we work and how this impacts on our team and the Unit. We started with a self-awareness packtyping exercise that gave us a different language to use about our different approaches in the workplace. This was followed more recently by a discussion on quiet leadership led by Pete Northover. A key message from the session that resonated is, while quieter people need to challenge themselves to be more outgoing, everyone should reflect on their own personality types and how these might differ from, and complement, other people’s leadership styles. Using these tools and taking some time to reflect personally and as a team means that we can be more tuned in to other people’s needs as well as our own strengths, helping us to work together in the most productive way and with realistic expectations of other people.

Margaret Coates, Area Lead for the Tees Valley, added:

Claire Denniss very kindly talked to us about quiet leadership at our recent team meeting.  It prompted some interesting points not least from Peter Campey about how we behave and are perceived externally, and if we can use what we are learning on quiet leadership to improve our relationships.  It also made me think about the importance of listening – about being open to lots of different voices and not just those I know best and am comfortable with.  I think it’s important for the success and health of the Unit that we all feel our voices are heard and this work really helps support that.   

We’re really keen that everyone across the Unit is given a chance to reflect on these issues, so if you or your team would like help to do so, please contact Pete Northover (peter.northover@beis.gov.uk) and Claire Denniss (claire.denniss@beis.gov.uk).

Two portraits side by side, left is black and white photo of James Baldwin under a blanket, right is painting of James Baldwin with yellow background

Left: James Baldwin / Carl Van Vechten / Gelatin silver print / 1955 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Right: James Baldwin / Beauford Delaney / Pastel on paper / 1963 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

According to Baldwin, an artist’s responsibility is “to illuminate the darkness” and “blaze roads through that vast forest” so that society does not “lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.” 

James Baldwin and Marlon Brando at Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., 08/28/1963.U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service.

James Baldwin and Marlon Brando at Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., 08/28/1963.U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service.

“Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.” — Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Pier Review

To celebrate the work of our Coastal Regeneration team and the success of the Coastal Communities fund, we are launching a Pier Review (yes, you read that right), which will run during recess from 24 July to 5 September.

As part of the Review, members of the Cities and Local Growth Unit from across the country will be travelling to seaside locations in the UK in their spare time and documenting our Great British Coast with photographs (ideally with a Pier) and reviews from each location.

We have set ourselves a target of 500 reviews over the next few weeks so watch this space, which will show up on the map below, which will be continuously updated. You can also follow the journey by signing up to TripLine or by clicking here.

The above can be read in full on the DCLG intranet: https://intranet.dclg.gov.uk/blog/pier-review-makes-waves/

MayaAndJames

Maya Angelou speaking about first meeting James Baldwin in Paris in the early 50s: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/maya-angelou-james-baldwin/7753/

“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” ― James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

Summer Policy Days

The CLoG central teams are going on a policy road show this summer! The teams will be visiting regional offices this August to talk about their policy areas and to have informal and open discussions about the work they are doing, while also learning more about the work going on in the regions.

2. Regional Opportunities

Policy

Westminster Social Policy Forum

The future for the Midlands Engine

Morning, Tuesday, 12th September 2017, Central Birmingham

WIG Events

Regional Workshop: Devolution & the West of England

Thursday 21 September 2017, 17:00 – 20:00

Bristol, Evening Briefing

Industry Visit: BT – The Internet of Things and what it means for the future

Tuesday 19 September 2017, 11:00 – 16:00, Ipswich Visit

Inside Government

Exploring the Next Steps for Devolution Across the Northern Powerhouse

27 September 2017, 08:45-16:40, Central Manchester

Leadership and management

Birmingham: Disability Confidence Workshop – A Core Curriculum Event

Tue 22 August – 10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Birmingham DCLG Office, 5 St Philip’s Place Birmingham, B3 2PW

This course is suitable for all line managers and not just those who know they have disabled direct reports.

Women’s mentoring scheme

Bristol: Crossing Thresholds, HEO/SEO – A Core Curriculum Event

Tue 5 September – 9:15 am – Wed 6 September – 5:00 pm

Crossing Thresholds is a 12 month career mentoring programme for women who want to develop their career in a structured and supportive environment. Aimed at women who want the time, space and support to explore the next steps in their career, it helps you be clearer about your career goals and how to achieve them.

Cardiff: Crossing Thresholds, HEO/SEO – A Core Curriculum event

Thu 14 September – 9:15 am – Fri 15 September – 5:00 pm

JB home

 James Baldwin at home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France, in 1979. Photograph: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images

‘Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality’, “Eve Auchincloss and Nancy Lynch”, Conversations With James Baldwin

3. DCLG and BEIS

DCLG

Working with Ministers/ET

Drafting for Ministers 

Mon 21 August – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; Fri 13 October – 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

One of the greatest skills a Civil Servant can have is to ensure you get your message across – and enable your Minister to do the same. This course will focus on how the style and substance of how you draft can change depending on its context.

Working with the Executive Team

Wed 13 September – 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, 4B SW

The Executive Team is responsible for driving and managing the daily business of the Department. This short workshop will help you to understand more about the Executive Team, their offices and how to work more effectively with them.

Leadership and management

Time Management Zoo

Wed 16 August – 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Policy development

Legal Awareness Session: Introduction to Bills (inc. Handout Bills)

Wed 16 August – 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

How does a Bill become an Act of Parliament? What are the roles and responsibilities of key players in the Bill process? What is the process for Handout Bills? This introductory session is designed for attendees without experience of working on either a Government Bill or Handout Bill or for those who need a refresher on the basics.

Diversity and Inclusion

Building your Resilience – a Health and Wellbeing Workshop

Tue 15 August – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Fair Treatment

Mon 18 September – 10:00 am – 11:30 am

This event has been set up to offer training to all staff to build awareness and understanding of what fair treatment looks like and how to make DCLG a fairer place to work.

Mindfulness sessions in August

A network between Home Office and DCLG runs a regular series of lunchtime mindfulness sessions – just 30 minutes a few times a week and open to all staff in 2MS.

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.” ― Baldwin, Collected Essays

BEIS

Digital

Digital Communications Drop In

1 September, 11am- 12pm

Parliamentary

Parliamentary Unit drop in sessions

Urgent Questions drop-in session 7th August

Oral PQs drop-in session 21st August

The PQ process drop-in session 4th September

SI drop-in session 11th September

The Debate Process drop-in session 18th September

The PQ process drop-in session 3rd October

Oral PQ process drop-in session 16th October

SI process drop-in session 23rd October

The PQ process drop-in session 13th November

SI process drop-in session 20th November

Leadership and management

Leadership Talk: Keeping the Lights on – Energy Industry Leadership Perspective with John Pettigrew CEO of National Grid plc

11 October, 2017 1:00 pm

Leadership Talk: The new Style of Leadership in the modern UK Civil Service with Clare Moriarty – Permanent Secretary of Defra

2 November, 2017 12:30 pm

Diversity and Inclusion

Mental Health Awareness

14 August, 2017 12:00 pm

Health Kiosk

15 August, 2017 9:30 am

Health Kiosk is returning! There is a limited opportunity for a complimentary health check from CS Healthcare: covering vital health signs such as body fat content, body mass index, blood pressure, heart rate and hydration. Advance booking is required.

Active Listening

17 August, 2017 11:00 am

Wellbeing event to give you awareness, understanding and tools you need to become an active listener.

Parental Support Network: Maternity Leave

19 September, 2017 1:00 pm

Will you or your partner soon be going on maternity leave or returning from maternity leave? Would you like to talk to others in a similar position or who have successfully navigated this transition? If so, do join us for this event. Do also join us if you have recently navigated the transition yourself and can offer some helpful advice to other parents in BEIS.

Policy

UK Governance focus groups – sign up to participate

14 August, 2017

The UK Governance Group (UKGG) is looking for volunteer civil servants to participate in research focus groups, being run on behalf of the UK Governance and Devolution team, it is conducting into civil servants’ engagement with a number of governance and constitutional issues later this month.

Volunteering

BEIS Volunteering Network’s Summer Programme – sign up now!

Volunteering is a great way to give something back to the community, as well as providing an opportunity to build new skills (for example coaching and mentoring), meet new people and get a better understanding of the public we serve. BEIS is keen to support staff volunteering – every staff member can take three days’ paid special volunteering leave each year. Check out our volunteering page on the intranet for more details and FAQs.

Building on the success of all of the great volunteering that has taken place over the past year, this year’s Summer Programme is packed full of volunteering and giving opportunities. From organising an event for your team to having a clear-out and donating your old work clothes to our giving programme, there are plenty ideas for how to get involved.

James Baldwin with Bayard Rustin at the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.

“There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.” ― Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

4. Beyond CLoG

WIG Events

Policy

Priorities for National, Long-Term Infrastructure

Tuesday 05 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:30 London, Breakfast Briefing

Delivering on the UK’s emissions reduction targets: A collaborative approach

Thursday 07 September 2017, 12:30 – 16:00 London, Workshop

Transforming the Sustainability Landscape: Ben Ratliff, Head of Innovation, Specialist Services, DHL Supply Chain UK & Ireland

Tuesday 12 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Roundtable

Jonathan Jones, Treasury Solicitor, Government Legal Department – The Article 50 process and The Great Repeal Bill

Thursday 21 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Dame Kate Barker and Dr Craig Berry, The Industrial Strategy Commission

Thursday 12 October 2017, 08:00 – 10:00, London, Breakfast Briefing

JB MLK

James Baldwin, Sammy Davis JR and Martin Luther King JR, 1963

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” ― Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

 Leaders

Louis Taylor, Chief Executive, UK Export Finance

Wednesday 06 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary, Department for Education

Thursday 07 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England

Wednesday 13 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Sir Robert Devereux, Permanent Secretary, Department for Work & Pensions

Thursday 14 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Stephen Haddrill, Chief Executive, Financial Reporting Council

Wednesday 20 September 2017, 08:00 – 10:00 London, Breakfast Briefing

Tamim Bayoumi, Deputy Director, Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, International Monetary Fund

Tuesday 26 September 2017, 17:30 – 19:30

London, Evening Briefing

Government / Public Affairs Directors Roundtable: Ilan Jacobs, Director, Global Government Affairs, EMEA , Citi

Thursday 28 September 2017, 08:00 – 09:30 Roundtable

Kevin Cunnington, Director General, Government Digital Service

Thursday 05 October 2017, 08:00 – 10:00

London, Breakfast Briefing

Michael Gibbons, Chairman, Regulatory Policy Committee

Tuesday 10 October 2017, 08:00 – 10:00

London Breakfast Briefing

Dr Peter Ammon, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom

Tuesday 10 October 2017, 12:30 – 14:00 London, Lunchtime Briefing

HE Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Wednesday 11 October 2017, 12:30 – 14:00 London, Lunchtime Briefing

Development

Enhancing Personal Impact & Presence

Thursday 07 September 2017, 09:00 – 16:30, Development Seminar

Heads of L&D Roundtable- From Expert to Leader

Thursday 07 September 2017, 12:15 – 14:00 London, Roundtable

WIG/Executive Action Workshop: So you want to be a Non-Executive?

Wednesday 13 September 2017, 09:00 – 17:00 London, Development Seminar

WIG alumni network: an evening with Dr David Halpern, Behavioural Insights Team

Thursday 14 September 2017, 18:00 – 21:00, Evening Briefing

Women’s Leadership: Courage & Presence

Thursday 21 September 2017, 09:00 – 16:30 Development Seminar

Commissioning Academy Alumni: Asset Based Commissioning, Better Outcomes, Better Value

Thursday 28 September 2017, 10:00 – 13:00

London, Commissioning Academy

Powerful, Persuasive Presenting

Thursday 05 October 2017, 09:00 – 16:30 Development Seminar

GDPR – What does it mean for your organisation?

Monday 09 October 2017, 14:00 – 18:00

London Workshop

The Secrets of Group Dynamics: How to influence and manage people in groups

Wednesday 11 October 2017, 09:00 – 16:30 Development Seminar

james BALDWIN

 

Whitehall EU Network

Civil Service Learning

Effective Statutory Instruments and Explanatory Memoranda workshop

Do you deal with Statutory Instruments (SIs) and Explanatory Memoranda (EMs)?  Do you have one coming up in the near future?  Would you like to increase your capability?  Take advice from those dealing with SIs and EMs every day in Parliament in a practical workshop.

Date: Friday 15 September 2017.  Time: 09:30 – 13:00.  Location: London, WC2N 5HX.

Further information and registration details can be found here.

The Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Masterclass – Britain’s place in the world

Speaker: Professor Ngaire Woods, inaugural Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance.

As the UK leaves the EU, our interactions will change: not only with the other 27 Member States but with many governments and international organisations for whom our EU identity has shaped their approach to working with us.

Date: Tuesday 26 September 2017.  Time: 13:30 – 16:30.  Venue: Whitehall, London, SW1A.

Further information and registration details can be found here.

Government Digital Service

The GDS Academy is here

Whether you’re a specialist or non-specialist civil servant, the GDS Academy will help improve your digital awareness by giving you a better understanding of the user-centred methodologies which are at the heart of government transformation.

Westminster Policy Forum

Policy

Improving Apprenticeships in England – quality, assessment and options for policy

Morning, Tuesday, 5th September 2017, Central London

Growth in the UK creative industries and priorities for the Industrial Strategy

Morning, Thursday, 7th September 2017, Central London

Next steps for housing in London and the South East: affordability, meeting demand and the future for social housing

Timing: Morning, Wednesday, 13th September 2017 Venue: Central London

Developing the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford Corridor: infrastructure, governance and economic growth

Thursday, 7th December 2017, Central London

Priorities for UK broadband connectivity: infrastructure, investment and the Digital Strategy

Morning, Tuesday, 12th September 2017, Sixty One Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET

Diversity and Inclusion

Improving equality at work for BME employees

11th October 2017

Mental health in the workplace – improving support for employers and employees

Monday, 20th November 2017, 9am – 1pm (registration from 8.30am) Central London

Civil Service College

The Legislation Process: From Policy Development to an Act

Understanding the UK Legal System

Behavioural Public Policy

14 November 2017, from 10:00-17:00

Operationalising Policy: Hitting the target but missing the point?

19 October 2017 (10:00-17:00) St James’s Park, London. The course is priced at £550+ VAT.

Inside Government

Policy

Tackling Homelessness and Rough Sleeping

28 September 2017, 08:45-16:00, Prospero House, Central London

Delivering and Investing in Future Infrastructure Projects

Tuesday 31st October 2017, Central London

 

 Getty, Ullstein Bild

“It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror.” ― James Baldwin, This Morning, This Evening, So Soon

LSE          

In case you missed it:

Good Growth by Design – A Vision for London

Recorded on: 10 July 2017

Speaker(s): Sadiq Khan, Professor Ricky Burdett, Professor Sadie Morgan, Jackie Sadek

For this one-off event the Mayor will describe what good growth will mean for London and Londoners, and how he intends to work with London’s developers, architects, planners, local authorities and communities to deliver it.

Play | Download: Audio, Video

The Evolution of Global Inequalities: the impact on politics and the economy

Recorded on: 5 July 2017

Speaker(s): Professor Branko Milanovic

Play | Download: Audio, Video, Slides

Upcoming events

The Role of the Attorney General: in conversation with Shami Chakrabarti

Thursday 28 September 2017 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Economics for the Common Good

Tuesday 17 October 2017 6:30pm to 8:00pm

When Jean Tirole won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics, he suddenly found himself being stopped in the street by complete strangers and asked to comment on issues of the day. His transformation from academic economist to public intellectual prompted him to reflect on the role economists and their discipline play in society.

5. News and Reviews

Whitstable

15 of us made our way to sunny Whitstable for a day of team bonding. Questionably seasoned cockles (too much vinegar) were sampled by some, while others stuck to a trusty has-never-been-and-will-never-be-99p 99 cone. We were hosted by members of the coastal team and it was a great opportunity to see tangible examples of the sorts of issues the unit is trying to tackle.

Whitstable

GRaD

Provided by Antonia Holdgate

Over the past year I’ve been working on the secondary legislation to implement devolution deals. I’ve been enjoying my work in the world of legislation and combined authority policy but I had never seriously considered working in Private Office. I always thought the hours were too long to make it enjoyable. So when I was asked to cover Rachel Meehan’s old role – responsible for the Secretary of State’s event invites, visits and the daypack – for 3 weeks covering the week of the General Election until the end of June, I said yes. On paper it looked like an exciting opportunity to see Private Office at a busy time – post-election and pre-summer recess – with new Ministers potentially on the horizon. With the potential for long hours in the office plus an hour and a half to two hours commute each way, I learned to get savvy when it came to making the most of my time – enter #OvernightOats for the morning commute and a stash of emergency food.

The first few days were about settling in and familiarising myself with the role, seeing the departure of Steven Howell and a welcome to James Nation as the new PS for Housing and Planning. This was followed by a brief period of excitement as the General Election took place and we waited to hear of our Ministerial line-up.

Week 2 and Sajid Javid was back in the office. I wrote my first ever box note (hint – it needs to be easy to read and concise, with a clear purpose). I learned quite quickly that organisation reigns in private office, and that knowing what is coming in and when is incredibly important.

Then on 14 June, a fire started in a tower block in West Kensington that rapidly consumed the building. I first heard of it as I was waiting for the train in Essex – my auntie in the Philippines messaged me over Facebook simply to say “I hope you are ok”: Cue confused googling and checking BBC News. I didn’t initially realise the scale of what was happening until I saw it on the 4th floor TV screens which surround you with a constant stream of images.

The fire prompted a massive rapid response from the Department, with colleagues working overnight and through the weekend. I saw herculean efforts from every single member of the private office team, especially as the scale of disaster began to unfold and the Finsbury Park attack added to pressure. Colleagues worked tirelessly to keep Ministers updated and to understand the problems themselves, eventually settling into a more even rhythm the following week. And they did it all without a massive sense of humour failure.

Despite all of this, routine business continued. Submissions were sent, box notes continued to be drafted, briefing was requested and invites to events continued to flood in. Although it was easy to be swept up into supporting the Grenfell work, it was important to ensure the routine items carried on. Some invites provided a bit of light relief – an invitation to a Christmas tree handover in December deserves an honourable mention.

So I ploughed on with the invites as well as chasing updated CRIPs, and briefing for the daypack. One of the highlights of the cover period was working alongside Beth Lambert in the MSU visits team to organise, in under an hour, a successful visit for the Secretary of State to the Westway centre. I also got to stand with the rest of the team and Grenfell response colleagues when the PM came to visit – close enough to see the leopard print on her pumps.

I feel that I saw Private Office in the most extraordinary of times. I certainly have a new appreciation for the deadlines they set and how work is prioritised. Here are a few of the things I took away from those 3 weeks:

  • Preparing box notes takes time. Talk to the private secretaries and meet your deadlines.
  • If you’re not sure about a commission – ask.
  • Remember the routine work – even if it doesn’t seem like a priority or you feel it’s unimportant, leaving it until later can leave faces red if you’re not careful.
  • When you’re all under the cosh, take a bit of time to talk to your colleagues, small things like making a cup of tea can be helpful and also gives you a bit of breathing space away from the desk.
  • Take care of yourself and allow yourself to recognise that it’s ok to feel stressed – your feelings are not invalid simply because you’re not experiencing the situation first hand.
  • Plastic containers are much better than mason jars for overnight oats – you feel 90% less hipster and more confident about chucking your bag around on the trainTo end the cover period I took 3 days off before returning to my normal role. This time allowed me to de-compress, rest up and get ready to throw myself back into the exciting world of combined authorities. Would I cover again? Yes. Would I consider a role in Private Office? Yes, although I would definitely need to live a bit closer. The work-life balance IS manageable; not every night is a late night but it just didn’t work out for me personally. Most importantly I enjoyed it. The people are great, the work is fascinating and it’s changed the way I look at the department for the better Plus I got a handshake from the man himself.

Finally, if you’re heading off on holiday this summer or simply fancy something different for the train home, have a go at Gemma’s holiday themed word-searches:

TRAVEL WORDSEARCH

HOLIDAY WORDSEARCH