‘I've found it really hard not to be able to see people face to face’: DCMS perm sec Sarah Healey on working through Covid

2020 was a year unlike any other, with the coronavirus pandemic upending the work of government and changing how we live our daily lives. Senior figures from across the civil service tell us how the unprecedented 12 months affected them, and look ahead to 2021
Sarah Healey, permanent secretary, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Photo: Baldo Sciacca

By Civil Service World

18 Dec 2020


What are you proudest of government achieving in 2020?

Supporting the sectors hardest hit by Covid has been an enormous challenge especially while working remotely, but we have risen to it. Within DCMS, I have been particularly proud of the partnership working between ministers, officials and stakeholders in these unprecedented circumstances – which on several occasions has led to stakeholders getting in touch with my teams to thank them for the incredible work they've produced.

What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2020?

2020 has been a tough year for everyone – but as a department we've had some particularly difficult moments, and I've found it really hard not to be able to see people face to face to talk about those experiences. While we've worked really well together remotely, sometimes it would make such a difference to speak in person.

What are the main challenges facing government in the coming year?

The news of vaccines on the horizon is very exciting, and hopefully they will mean that we will soon be able to return to life as we knew it. However, the impact of this pandemic will be significant – and we need to ensure we keep up the hard work and professionalism to aid the country's recovery from this crisis.

People will have to be more creative about celebrating this year. How will you make the festive period on Zoom special?

We have already celebrated teams' achievements on platforms really effectively and will continue to do this into Christmas with drinks, staff events, fun presentations and quizzes (of course!). For me personally, my mum has decided she doesn't want to risk getting together at Christmas when a vaccine is so close, so we are hoping we can hook her up with the technology to be able to open presents with us on Christmas morning.


Share this page