'It’s important to be kind to one another': DCMS's Sarah Healey shares her pandemic lessons

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The DCMS perm sec tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
"A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer": lessons from paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmods. Photo: Richard Gillin/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

By Civil Service World

30 Dec 2021

 

What was your highlight of 2021?

There were a lot of tough moments in 2021, especially at the beginning of the year in lockdown. But for DCMS there have been many highlights too: the Culture Recovery Fund; just recently the Future Tech Forum; and our Data Reform consultation. 

My personal highlight was seeing our theatres, museums, festivals and sporting events opening up, supported by our Events Research Programme. 

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021?

When people have been under so much pressure, it’s important to be kind to one another and remember that everyone is doing their best in difficult circumstances. I was really inspired by Ellie Simmonds, the Paralympic swimmer, who said the best advice she had ever received was that a happy swimmer was a fast swimmer. Looking after our people’s wellbeing is important for doing our best at work.

"Everyone is doing their best in difficult circumstances"

What is your number one priority for 2022?

Well, 2022 is an exciting year for DCMS with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Women’s Euros tournament, the Unboxed festival of creativity in the UK and, of course, Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Our priority is ensuring the whole of the UK has the opportunity to enjoy these events. As well as delivering gigabit broadband, obviously!

Which historical, mythical or contemporary figure would you most like to join you for a New Year’s Eve celebration?

To be honest, I just want to see my family and friends this festive season. But it would be amazing to have Mary Wollstonecraft - though she would be so interesting she might distract me from my other guests. 

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