Jaimie Newman & Julia Vanoli on a 'year of challenges and new beginnings' for the government women's network

Written by Civil Service World on 31 December 2019 in Feature

As 2020 approaches, senior figures from across government reflect on their highlights and challenges of 2019, look ahead to the next 12 months and share their favourite festive memories

Vanoli remembers local swimmers taking a festive dip at Whitley Bay

What was your highlight of 2019?

For our network, 2019 has been a year of challenges and new beginnings. Our highlight of the year has to be the event we ran for International Women’s Day in March. Usually we start planning six months ahead but due to personnel changes we only started bringing ideas together in January. Despite this, we were able to organise a fantastic event for 45 members, who attended the day in the new high-tech offices of HMRC in Croydon. We ran personal development sessions on communicating with impact, as well as a coaching workshop. We were able to find out more from our membership about how we can organise regional activities and events and we heard all about the history of women and trade unions in the civil service from the FDA’s Rose Willis. We would like to thank departing members of our steering group – Rebecca Aron, Sabrina Marsh, Siobhan Sherry and Ellie Binks – for all their hard work this year. 

What has been the most significant change in your network this year?

Our most significant change has been to reform our steering group as many of the members named above stepped down or left for new jobs abroad. In September we selected new members and now we have all the resources and skills we need to develop further, including regional key contacts, and social network and communications leads. This will enable us to do so much more for our members in 2020.

What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?

"Our biggest challenge will be managing expectations, and providing a range of events and guidance for our network leads which will meet the regional challenges we have been asked to respond to"

Our biggest challenge will be managing expectations, and providing a range of events and guidance for our network leads which will meet the regional challenges we have been asked to respond to. We are looking forward to continuing to be involved in the Network Advisory Group headed by Rupert McNeil, where we can work closely with colleagues in other networks and the Cabinet Office diversity and inclusion team to develop our offer and help meet wider civil service objectives on diversity and inclusion.

Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth...

Julia: As a child I lived in the north east of England and every Christmas Day we would head to the beach in the morning to watch the dedicated Whitley Bay Swimming Team go for their daily dip in the North Sea. Such resilience!

Jaimie: As a child of mixed-race parents – Mauritian and Scottish – I had different festive traditions. On Christmas Eve we would have a very Mauritian celebration with Mauritian food only and fireworks. My mother would tell us about her travels to the UK and why she did it. She was – and still is – an amazingly strong woman to have brought up four mixed-raced children in the early 70s and still train to be an NHS nurse.

Christmas Day was my dad’s responsibility. It was very traditional: he would be cooking from the wee hours of the morning creating a feast for our family of six. After dinner he would read us Robert Burns poems and we would play games all night.

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Jaimie Newman & Julia Vanoli are co-chairs of the government women's network

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