Welcome to the October edition of the CLoG Learning and Development blog.
October 10 marked Word Mental Health Day and this year’s theme was about workplace wellbeing, something worth thinking about well beyond WMHD. We all have mental health just as we have physical health, and it’s as important to take of it, and seek help when needed. Coincidentally, we talked about this very topic in our ‘Team Ben’ meeting last week and everyone agreed that it was vital to support one another and look out for each other’s wellbeing. Heartening really! It was also great to see the ways in which World Mental Health Day was marked by BEIS and DCLG (there is a link to the video of the DCLG World Mental Health Day event on 10th October). General information and support can also be found on the BEIS and DCLG intranets. The national picture of mental wellbeing in the workplace, however, is not so heartening and the Government’s recent ‘Thriving at Work’ report found that 300,000 people a year lose their jobs because of mental ill-health. So in an attempt to make sure that we’re all taking a little time to look after each other, and ourselves, the below photos are (sort of) related to Mind’s Top Tips for staying well at work. I hope you’re already doing some of these, or feel inspired to try something new.
If you’re a fan of quizzes, you might also be interested in this quiz from DCLG’s Health and Wellbeing Network.
In this edition…
DCLG and BEIS
News and Reviews
Top tip: reclaim your lunch break. I took this photo last week, while leisurely strolling through the park with my tuna melt Panini.
1. New Starters
If you’re a new starter, or looking for a refresh, some of the below events are definitely worth attending.
Additionally, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with one of the most important tools of all for new starters: the CLoG career-charter-tool-box! The Career Charter sets out our commitment as a Unit to be a place where everyone feels supported to develop their career and pursue their personal career goals.
Being run throughout November
This is a mandatory course for anyone who has recently joined BEIS. It is recommended that you attend as soon as possible after joining the Department and within your first 3 months.
2 November, 2017 12:30 pm
6 November, 2017 9:00 am
The Policy Excellence Week is the foundation BEIS capability programme designed to develop new and current Policy Professionals by encouraging structured policy making through clarity on situation, evidence, options and solutions.
7 November, 2017 11:00 am
An opportunity to come up to the 7th floor (1 Victoria Street, London) and meet the Communications, Partnerships and Governance teams to find out more about the work we do to achieve the department’s objectives.
Wed 1 November – 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Thu 2 November – 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
This informal session is a set of top tips for doing your job well that have been accrued and combined together and some of the best pieces of advice that have been received by civil servants or which civil servants want to share with their colleagues.
Mon 13 November – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Book your place on this introductory course aimed at colleagues new to policy. Policy is a key part of what we do in DCLG. This course will give you a framework to help structure your policy thinking so that you can approach various policy challenges with confidence.
Thu 16 November – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Book your place to find out about the DCLG library services, browse our collection and meet the library staff. Ask about: Finding information – build an evidence base with reports, academic papers and more.
Mind say: “Hold a group activity – If there’s a green space near your workplace why not organise a game of rounders or football, hold a guerrilla gardening session, or a group walk? Take time to enjoy the outdoors and get re-energised for an afternoon of productive work.” The above is, of course, representative of the infamous CLoG Ping-Pong sessions.
2. DCLG and BEIS
An opportunity of relevance to all HEO/SEOs:
BEIS today announced applications are open for its latest cohort on the Aspiring Managers programme. It is aimed at HEOs and SEOs with the potential to reach Grade 7 in 12 to 18 months. It is particularly aimed at equipping staff with the management skills to lead and develop people and teams.
This opportunity is open across the Unit, regardless of your home department. As the article states, in the first instance please discuss this with your line manager if you are interested. If you do apply, the deadline is 13 November.
2 November, 2017 9:30 am (also taking place on the 6th of December)
During this 3 hour workshop, various coaching scenarios will be played out and you’ll learn to differentiate between when it’s appropriate to coach ‘on the go’ and when coaching should take place behind closed doors.
14 November, 2017 2:00 pm
This seminar starts by covering the common misuse of the terms, ‘literature review’ and ‘evidence review’, and then shows how evidence quality can be assessed quantitatively to determine what evidence is deemed to be of a high enough quality to inform policy development.
Top tip: “Create clear boundaries between work and home. Try not to let work spill over into your personal life. If you need to bring work home, designate a separate area for work and stick to it, you’ll find it much easier to then close the door on work.” The above is a photo of my cat, and when I try and take work home, he just sits on laptop. So, get yourself a needy cat? This leads on nicely to the below ‘Pets as Therapy’ event!
Wed 1 November – 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Stressed-out and could do with a cuddle? Then come along to F225 on 1 November between 13.30 and 14.30 and meet Arthur the Labradoodle therapy dog and his obedient owner Emily Bliss. Find out more »
Mon 6 November – 10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Room GB, 5 St Philip’s Place
Policy is a key part of what we do in DCLG. This course will give you a framework to help structure your policy thinking so that you can approach various policy challenges with confidence. Policy officials are expected to provide succinct advice to ministers so that they can take well-informed decisions. Find out more »
Thu 9 November – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Thu 9 November – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Book your place to learn more about programme and project management.
Wed 15 November – 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Top tip: “Use the time on your commute home to wind down from work. Read a book or listen to your music to set aside some time to yourself. Maybe try cycling part of your journey or getting off a stop early to take a shortcut through a park or quiet streets. These little actions can really help you to switch off.” I took the above photo a couple of weeks ago when I decided to forego the tube altogether and walked home. (#nofilter)
3. Beyond CLoG
FCO Europe Faculty
Regions and Brexit: Differing Effects?
Speakers: Professor Philip McCann, Sheffield University and Professor Raquel Ortega –Argilés, University of Birmingham
Date: 6 December 2017 Time: 13:00-14:00 Venue: FCO, King Charles Street
Further information and registration details can be found here.
A fuller event list can be found here.
Tuesday 05 December 2017, 08:00 – 10:00
Wednesday 01 November 2017, 08:00 – 10:00
Top Tip: Start a To Do list – At the end of each day, go over your list and write up one for the next day, when your thoughts are down on paper, you’ll find it easier to not think about work.
Westminster Policy Forum
Thursday, 7th December 2017, Central London
Monday, 20th November 2017, 9am – 1pm (registration from 8.30am) Central London
Morning, Thursday, 8th March 2018
Tuesday 31st October 2017, Central London
Tuesday 07 November 2017 6:30pm to 8:00pm
All free public events at LSE can be viewed here.
Centre for Cities
4 December 2017 to 6 December 2017
Bringing together the metro mayors with international mayors, past and present, to share their experience and advice
12 December 2017 6pm | The Shard, London SE1
Professor Ron Martin as a guest lecturer discussing the resilience of cities following economic shocks
Top Tip: Are you often the last to leave work? We know you’ll have times when you need to work overtime to meet deadlines, but try to make this the exception not the norm. Long hours means you may be working harder, but not better – they’ll quickly take their toll on your concentration, productiveness and health.
4. News and Reviews
Farhana Hussain writes about her experience on a recent visit
We were invited by The British Plan to visit their current projects in Paddington and Canada Water.
We were met by Adrian Penfold, Mike Meadows and Tim Downes. They took us to their Marketing Suite, which just happened to be a (very awesomely done up) boat. Whilst eating our pastries, Adrian, Mike and Tim took us through the master plan for Paddington using a model, complete with trees and miniature people.
Following this, we were taken to 4 Kingdom Street. We were taken up to the rooftop which not only had amazing views of London, but also a rooftop basketball court. Of course, I had to shoot a few hoops.
Couple of floors below, we were shown around an empty office floor space; again, the clear windows looked out to North and South London.
Another one of British Plan’s current project is the Canada Waters regeneration plan. There we met Emma Cariaga, Miles Price and Roger Madelin who is the Head of Canada Water Development. We went to the 25th floor of Ontario Point, a residential building. The views were amazing there too – Looking out to North, East, South and West London. Paired with the blue sky, beautiful. The British Land has 47 acres of land in the area that goes into Southwark Park. Mental and Health wellbeing is key on their agenda as is training and education in Canada Water.
The British Land collectively owns Print Works with Kings College London. Print Works was previously owned by Daily Mail and Evening Standard. Kings College London and The British Plan are currently in talks of working collaboratively to come to a joint decision on how to regenerate the building. In the meantime, the building is being used for various events, i.e. the building has been used by Mulberry for London Fashion Week.
To conclude, the British Land have an awesome master plan for the regeneration of Canada Water and Paddington. They have taken into account various issues such as health and wellbeing, education and increasing biodiversity, especially in Canada Water.
Piers Barber provides a write up of Paul Roswell’s ‘History of Local Government’
On 12th October Paul Rowsell, Head of Governance Reform and Democracy, guided DCLG colleagues through the colourful history of local government, from the creation of county councils in 1888 to the introduction of metro mayors in combined authorities today. Along the way have come referendums, disputes over tax and accountability, and numerous remodellings of how local government works and what it’s meant to achieve.
While helping to put together the enormous two metre-long timeline that accompanied Paul’s talk, I was struck by how relevant the specifics of local government policy have often proved to be in shaping national stories, and impressed to hear about the department’s and its predecessors’ long history of innovation and achievement. Here are a few other valuable lessons I picked up from the session.
Knowing our history can help us understand what works and what doesn’t
The talk provided an ideal example of how maintaining a sense of the past can shed light on what works and what can go wrong. The story’s journey through shifting government priorities, tier structures and power allocations revealed the evolution of more efficient and streamlined ways of working. It also showed how some accomplished ministers and MPs have made important interventions in refining the idea of what local government should be and how it should all work – for example, Michael Heseltine, twice Secretary of State for the Environment, and George Young, who held several Ministerial appointments, were when they were out of Government the only two Conservative MPs never to have voted in favour of the troublesome poll tax.
The role of referendums
Referendums cropped up throughout the story. In 1979, for instance, one was held to decide the future of devolution in Scotland. Rather than just a simple majority, it required that 40% of the total registered electorate agree to the proposal in order for it to pass – not an approach used in more recent referendums… As it turned out, 51.6% voted in favour, but with a turnout of just 64%, this represented just 32.9% of those registered to vote. . Referendums continue to play a role within local government. New council tax proposals, introduced in 2012, require that all councils adhere to a centrally set rate – unless a rise is agreed to by residents through a referendum. So far, no such increase has been approved.
Relations haven’t always been smooth
Dealings between central and local government have at times proved fraught with tension and disagreement. Particularly dramatic examples included the so-called ‘rate-capping rebellion’, which saw councils whose budgets were restricted refuse to set budgets for 1985-86 – with the goal of forcing the government to either directly provide public services or withdraw the powers. Ultimately, though, all 15 councils eventually backed down, and in Lambeth and Liverpool rebellious councillors were surcharged. After 1997, meanwhile, Tony Blair’s mistrust of local Labour parties caused further tensions and disputes. But relationships have also often been productive; today, with greater consultation and prosperous devolution discussion ongoing, a more cooperative spirit has prevailed in many areas.
Local government has often been a key terrain of political conflict
Goings-on in the world of local government have repeatedly cropped up as key political battlegrounds. In 1976, Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Shore’s warning to council leaders that “the party’s over” signalled the start of increased central government pressure to reduce local spending. As our timeline indicates, 1979-1990 was another period of upheaval, as Margaret Thatcher again focused substantial attention on perceived council overspending. Her introduction of the Community Charge (better known as the poll tax) provoked considerable resistance from local residents, and although initially a local issue, grew into a national concern, prompting a riot and ultimately contributing to bringing about a change in Prime Minister. Local government looks set to continue to both influence and be influenced by events and discussion at national level for years to come.
GRaD’s two metre-long timeline of the history of local government is now up on the wall in the NE Quadrant, 2nd Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street.
Last but not least: Ask for help – If you feel your workload is spiralling out of control, take opportunity to discuss it with your manager or supervisor. If you can’t resolve the problem of unrealistic goals, organisation problems or deadlines in this way, talk to your personnel department, trade union representative or other relevant members of staff.