My main reason for going to our recent Discovery Session was that I needed a captive audience to get some feedback on our short film which intends to explain and promote the work of Civil Service Local in the north west. I'm so glad I picked this session though as the topic was really fascinating and I learned so much about how Westminster works, the history of general elections in the UK and all sorts of other Parliamentary facts and figures. I was so inspired that I've been reading up on the history of Parliament ever since.
Tony Shaw from Dods treated us to a fun, interactive session which really tested our knowledge of how politics works in the UK as well as teaching us some amazing facts. I started off well in the quiz as I already knew that the Speaker of the House's seat isn't contested, but then I started to falter when it came to knowing which is the largest and smallest constituency. But I now know who Black Rod actually is and what he does!
Tony went on to stage a mock election with each table forming its own political party and drafting a three point manifesto. The elected Party Leader then delivered their party's manifesto to the room and we had a vote - all very democratic. We were lucky enough to have an experienced election official present, so our Discovery Sessions Co-ordinator Mel Park was on hand to act as Returning Officer and declare the winner.
It was a quick and interesting way of getting an insight to the electoral process in our country, which helped facilitate some lively discussions on how the upcoming election will impact us all as Civil Servants.
As I said at the start, I also took the opportunity to premiere our Civil Service promotional DVD for the north west. Kicking off with an introduction from our North West Co-ordinator, Kathie Bates, we then saw and heard our colleagues from a wide range of departments in the north west talking with passion about their involvement. There were stories about our citizen programmes - working with schools, prisons and hospices - as well as inspirational thoughts about our personal development opportunities. All that, and some familiar faces too.
Feedback at the session was very positive, with some great suggestions put forward. One was to prominently advertise this very blog, so I'm all for that.
I enjoyed the short film. It shows that you don't necessarily have to be a teacher or a prison officer to have an impact in our community. As civil servants we have the skills to help, and now we have an opportunity to share those skills. That's the message I got from the DVD.
Patricia Simpson, DWP
As well as being the first people to see our film, the group also got to hear about our Academy, thanks to 2014 delegate Eve Clayton. Eve spoke very enthusiastically about her experience and the project she's working on now with her Academy "family" - the group she joined at the event itself and will continue to work with over the coming year. Eve summed up the difference the Academy had made for her by saying:
I used to think I just worked for Legal Aid. Since the Academy, I realise that I'm a civil servant. A civil servant who currently works in Legal Aid, but the possibilities are endless.
Eve Clayton, 2014 Academy delegate
This was the first Discovery Session I'd been to for quite a while. They're promoted as bite-sized learning sessions or 'Lunch and Learn (BYOL - bring your own lunch). I left feeling that I'd had a three course meal and I certainly won't leave it so long before coming back next time.