Cabinet Office comes to Cambridge

Summary

Teacambs welcomes Jane O’Loughlin from Government Digital Service (GDS)

Don’t say Puffles didn’t tell you! We were lucky to have the presence of Jane O’Loughlin from GDS at Teacambs the day after Puffles’ visit to GovUK Towers. I first met Jane back in early 2011 when I stumbled along to my first Whitehall Teacamp gathering in January of that year. (I was still in the civil service back then). So it was lovely to have her visiting to provide some much-needed rocket fuel to help give its local offshoot a great boost to its profile – which we more than received.

Prior to Teacambs, we headed to Shire Hall to meet some senior managers at the County Council. It’s one of those things where the presence of someone from Central Government alone can potentially go a long way. This is one of the things that I found when in the civil service on visits outside of London. The fact that someone from London had made the effort to visit & listen spoke volumes in itself – even if on several occasions it meant taking an ear-bashing! Amongst other things it showed to local people that whatever it was they were doing was on the radar of someone inside the corridors of power.

Jane’s presence alone showed not only to the County Council, but a host of other local organisations and public sector bodies that this grassroots gathering of social media advocates is something worth getting involved with. This was reinforced by Jonathan’s presence – and that of his colleague Sam Egbayelo too. I had met Sam at one of the social media awareness workshops I had delivered for the City Council earlier this year, and struck me as one of the people who already got not just social media as a series of tools, but also the mindset around it. As Sam has to deal day-to-day with the local general public, I felt the presence of him – or someone in a similar role with a similar outlook is essential for the success of Teacambs in the medium to longer term. The reason being his experiences will be of interest to other public bodies who are further behind the curve, that he ‘gets’ social media perhaps in a way others in an organisation as large as the City Council do not, and that he’s also a front-line institutional link between the Council and Teacambs. One of the challenges for me is to find other people like Sam in other public sector bodies in the county!

What did you discuss at June’s Teacambs? 

There were about 15 of us for June’s Teacambs, talking about social media and culture change in public sector organisations. Both Jane, along with Jonathan James, Head of Customer Services at Cambridge City Council, gave detailed insights on their experiences. There were three themes that I picked up:

  • The IT systems changes that needed to be made
  • The changing patterns of interaction from service users and the public
  • Trying to change the culture & mindset of staff

My main interest was in the third bullet point, but there were others there who were interested in the other two. We had a couple of people who had enough technical expertise and understanding to discuss the first bullet point, and the same with the second, including former councillor Amanda Taylor. Also *Thank you* to Keith Edkins (pictured here with Puffles at Cambridge Beer Festival) for taking a few photos of the gathering too! We were also pleased to have Tara Crabtree of the East of England Ambulance Trust joining us too. Thus we had a nice mix of local residents, local political types, representatives from public sector organisations and civil service input.

I’ll upload some more detailed content on the Teacambs website going into a little more detail on the issues we discussed in the bullet points.

Next month – the last Thursday of July – we hope to have Councillor Nick Clarke, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council talking about all things broadband. I’ve also had confirmation from Cambridgeshire Police and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue that a couple of their staff are coming.

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