What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?
There have been many highlights for CSRF to choose from over the last 12 months. The one we would like to showcase is the amazing work led by our East and South East Asian (ESEA) Working Group on organising their first virtual hybrid conference during ESEA Heritage Month. The objectives of the conference were to educate the civil service on ESEA identities and challenges, empower ESEA civil servants to bring their whole selves to work, and to inspire the next generation of ESEA civil servants. The feedback from attendees demonstrated that there is a high demand for more events created to support our ESEA colleagues.
What was your most difficult decision in 2022?
Our most difficult decision during 2022 was to cancel some of our planned progression and capability events due to a drop in attendee numbers and volunteers to help us with events planning and co-ordination.
We understand the immense pressures on our members – some are still in their own personal lockdown unable to cope with hybrid working, the cost of living and energy crises and the various organisational changes which have impacted our colleagues.
As leaders of CSRF, we always look to prioritise the needs of our members in order to look after their mental health and wellbeing, especially for volunteers who use their spare time to help.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how are you preparing to meet it?
The biggest challenge facing CSRF in 2023 will be signposting and providing support to our members who will be struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. In addition to further industrial action starting in mid-December, there may be uncertain job security going into 2023. We are preparing for these challenges by flagging support resources available through HR, the Charity for Civil Servants and other services.
We will continue to develop our members through sponsorship, mentoring, coaching and capability sessions to alleviate any fears about performance issues.
And personally, as leaders?
Personally, as co-chairs our biggest challenge in 2023 will be the preparation for our next leadership election in June 2023. This will mean empowering all the different race networks across government, who sit under the CSRF. Additionally, we must continue to ensure governance is embedded across all networks and that we support all race network chairs/co-chairs/deputy chairs to build their capability as leaders within the civil service.
This includes supporting newer leaders with practical guidance and sharing best practice. We saw the benefit of this when we managed to coordinate South Asian Heritage and Black History Month – an event was provided nearly every day across the civil service, despite the numerous pressures of the day job. Coordinating amongst 68 leaders is a challenge, but it’s important to listen and ensure that we are continuing to improve what networks do for their respective members.
It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season?
The best experience working in the festive season is having to organise an inclusive social event with our members in order to make the most of the downtime. This is a great way to get together, say thank you and enjoy each other's company. We also use this time to recognise other festive milestones that can occur near the Christmas period such as Hannukah, Diwali, Eid, and Kwanza.