Our Citizen and Celebration Event was held on 3 December at HMP (Her Majesty's Prison) Kirkham, near Preston. It was the first big team event I'd been invited to and I was amazed at the number of opportunities available to civil servants from across all government departments in our region. I knew about some of the work we do but learned a lot more on the day.
I really enjoyed listening to heartfelt stories from colleagues who had been involved in the Inspiring Young People programmes, working with primary and secondary schools as well as in partnership with Career Academies. Some of those stories were really powerful and moving. I felt very proud to be there when two representatives from The Larches pupil referral unit in Preston shared their experiences with us. It was clear that their school and students had made a real connection with our volunteers and were looking forward to building on that partnership to help motivate even more young people in need of support.
For our kids to attend an event like Civil Service Live and give the same presentation 3 times was an amazing achievement. They really enjoyed the experience.
Nina Bradley, Teaching Assistant - The Larches Pupil Referral Unit, Preston.
Civil servants who had worked with offenders on the Going Forward Project spoke about the challenges and rewards involved in helping young men plan for a better future once they leave prison. Even though I'd been involved in the programme myself, it was still wonderful to hear my colleagues speak about the difference we'd made to these young men's lives. We heard from some of the offenders themselves and being told that one of the "lads" - as we refer to the offenders we work with - is now studying for a degree in accountancy had me in tears, I was so moved!
Finally, the Government Access Point (GAP) team explained all about their amazing work with local hospices, bringing services to our customers at a very difficult time. Debra Green, who manages Trinity Hospice in Blackpool spoke very passionately about the professionalism of our volunteers and the real difference we'd made to patients and their families.
After we'd been led through our own journey of citizen programmes, Olly Robins, Director General of the Civil Service addressed the group. His theme was the history of the Civil Service and how we can take our heritage, tools and people to meet the needs of our changing society and make the UK Civil Service the envy of the world. Olly used words like innovate, create and respond - all in relation to the programmes we offer for citizens in the north west. I felt priviliged to be a small part of that.
When I think about what Reform means to me, I draw on stories like the ones I've heard today . . . thank you for being exemplars of what the Civil Service can be at its very best.
Olly Robins, Director General of UK Civil Service
Another guest from the Cabinet Office told me that she felt "humbled" by our journey. I totally agree and these stories are what make everything we do so worthwhile for me. There are plenty of opportunities for civil servants to get involved – so go on, volunteer today to do something different and make a difference to those around us.