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Making a Connection

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Keith and colleague with River Mersey in background

Since joining Civil Service Local North West’s People Connection programme two years ago I’ve seen it grow from a straightforward Civil Servant matching programme into the diverse, multi-strand programme it’s become today. I’m really familiar with the programme and have even promoted the programme at various events. However, when I was asked by Jo Nunnerley (CS Local) to actually host a two-day placement, my initial thought was “That’s well out of my comfort zone!” Not wanting to disappoint, I reluctantly agreed to it and began considering how best to approach the challenge.

I first enlisted the help of my colleague, Loren Jones, from the People Connections Programme, and together we approached it as a joint venture. As first time hosts on the programme , I didn’t really know what the placement should look like in terms of format, duration or layout.

We sat down together and tried to figure out how best to showcase CMG (Child Maintenance Group). We decided to tell the story of the lifecycle of a case, from the Initial Application stage, up to final Legal Enforcement stage. To achieve this we needed staff from all operational segments involved at each stage in a case to provide a brief overview of their role and their impact on the overall process.

Luckily, Loren and I have many contacts throughout the building. Between us we attracted plenty of volunteers from across the business and our growing enthusiasm began to rub off on others, as it seemed like everyone we approached was keen to take part.

Our next task was to draw up an agenda and we allocated 15-20 minute timeslots for each of our CMG lifecycle hosts to speak on the first day. Day Two, we decided, should give our attendee an insight into the operational delivery of the day-to-day running of CMG at Great Western House. Both Loren and I, in very unfamiliar territory, approached Senior Management to ask if they’d be willing to give an overview into the type of decisions they make and the impact they have at CMG. Like everyone we’d approached beforehand they were more than happy to assist and my initial fears we would not receive the support we needed vanished.

Like a jigsaw with only a few pieces left before completion, the placement was starting to take shape. Finally, after a lot of re-jigging to match participants’ availability over the two days, we were ready to host.

Come the first day, to say we were nervous was an understatement. This was our baby that we’d created from reluctant beginnings to a point where we had an agenda that incorporated an overview of pretty much all of CMG. The two days raced by and, while at times we flew by the seat of our pants, the placement was a resounding success! Never could we have imagined that everything would go so well for us.

The attendee himself said he got everything he wanted out of his visit and more and that, as hosts, we more than exceeded his expectations. The subsequent feedback we received from him was nothing short of outstanding! All our hard work had paid off - it was well and truly worth it.

Fancy hosting a placement yourself? Go on… do it! It might well surpass your wildest expectations of what you can do!

If Keith’s story has inspired you to host a placement or if you would like to know more about the programme, please get in touch with Jo via email to


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