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
What was your highlight of 2019?
The civil service presence at Pride events around the country. In London we had a huge number of civil servants celebrating their diversity with an inspired float which attracted a lot of attention; our Civil Service Pride T-shirts, along with banners and placards, went to Pride events all around the UK.
What has been the most significant change in your network this year?
Two big changes really. We said goodbye to Dame Sue Owen as our champion and welcomed Jonathan Slater (pictured) as her successor. We’ve done some great work with him already and look forward to more next year. Also, my excellent vice-chair John Peart and our fabulous Bi+ lead Mary Peart (no, they aren’t related!) both stepped down, which gave us the push we needed to review how the leadership team works. We have now recruited a team of vice chairs to spread the work and improve our capacity for covering the range of work we need to. They come from a range of backgrounds, experiences, locations and departments, which is making our leadership team richer and helping us to better support our regional team.
Our Civil Service Pride T-shirts, along with banners and placards, went to Pride events all around the UK
What will be the biggest challenge of 2020 – and how are you preparing to meet it?
Embedding the new team in the fast-paced, constantly evolving environment that is the civil service. We are all used to operating in a flexible and dynamic way but the current rate of change and movement of civil servants can make it very difficult to manage volunteers because their workloads and priorities can change suddenly, as well as their line management, email address, phone number and their ability to interact. Creating a larger team is one way I feel we are better prepared to meet that challenge. We’ve gone from a small and overworked team to a much more resilient team where, if someone has to move on quickly, there will be others available to hand over work to.
Tell us a favourite festive memory from your youth…
For me this holiday is all about family, I don’t really have one specific memory that stands out but when I think of Christmas it’s in our family home, with my parents, auntie and uncle, cousins, grandparents and extended family, playing games and eating lots of food. It didn’t always go to plan – like the time the cat helped itself to the turkey while it was resting, or the year the oven broke part-way through cooking the turkey, so we knocked on neighbours’ doors to find someone who’d finished using their oven so we could borrow it – but we always had fun.