Kathryn Ward, Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing
Kathryn Ward shares her week in the life of an Engagement Manager with the Centre.
I am due in London by 9 am tomorrow morning so have started the working week early. I have learnt from experience that the first weekday train from Blackpool to London is often delayed due to overrunning engineering and always means a very dark, early start. The Sunday journey ensures I am where I should be in the morning and gives me time to do some reading for the week ahead.
The first challenge of today is to find the host venue of Deloitte for DCLG’s Digital Awareness Day. Tip – always give yourself extra time to travel and have a backup plan B for when there are Tube delays!
Along with a colleague, my role today is to facilitate sessions on information sharing within the Troubled Families programme. We are delivering 3 sessions after lunch in which we will generate discussions around the Troubled Families programme – specifically focussing on information sharing so we can capture issues, barriers and opportunities from the audience.
We spend the morning listening to a wide range of case studies where information sharing is successfully taking place. Between listening, I make my own notes and tweet key points and topics from my Centre account – @KW_InfoShareCoE.
Our afternoon sessions have involved a lot of pre work to understand and ensure we are up to date with the lessons learnt and next steps on the Troubled Families programme. We’ve also had support from the wider Centre team who have helped us with presentational input, materials and the ever so important blu-tack and post-it notes.
We speak to about 50 people during the course of the three sessions, each of which have polar opposite experiences of delivering the Troubled Families programme – from nothing at all to leading this initiative in their local authority.
While everyone else enjoys the tea and fancy cakes, we collate feedback for the plenary session at the end of the day and have only have 90 seconds to deliver them – so it’s key that we pick the most important and consistent points.
After the session ends, I dash off to catch the train back up north – and miss my connection (happens a lot!) but eventually get home safe and sound.
I’m working from home and the first job is to reflect and summarise the event yesterday for the Troubled Families team and my colleagues. I also need to look at any learning I need to take forward.
Each member of our team contributes to (this!) regular weekly blog and as it is fast approaching my turn, I draft my article ready for publication. Our lovely Dissemination Team always manages to shape the ramblings into something readable!
As the team is located across the country, we have a buddy system to keep in touch and I gave mine a call this afternoon for a chat about the policy areas and places where we are both working.
I am on secondment from DWP and one of the ways I keep in touch with my home department is through a quarterly mentor meeting. My mentor is based in Bolton and I manage to get a lift from a DWP colleague today, who is working as part of the Universal Credit Elaboration workshops.
While I’m there, I take the opportunity to hot desk in the Universal Credit room and see how the workshops are run, observing the multi department decision making process while I’m at it.
I also speak to our Dissemination Team; about my publishing plans for the next couple of months. I have plotted out my forthcoming meetings, workshops and events that I’ll be attending and commit to a writing schedule of articles, blogs and tweets about them.
At the Centre, we use a communication tool called Yammer to keep in touch from our bases across the country.
We use the tool for letting colleagues know where and what we are working on and keeping each other updated on relevant items in the news. This morning I catch up on all the policy papers the team has been sharing around the Social Care Act and changing Universal Credit legislation.
On Yammer, we have also just introduced a “magic 15 minutes” exercise where we write continuously for 15 minutes on a pre selected topic each week. I write about how information sharing is used in a decision making environment. Luckily, with the Universal Credit elaboration workshop fresh in my mind, I have plenty to keep me going.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll be meeting with colleagues from the Public Service Transformation Network. In advance of this, I speak with one of their “northern” team members and find out that we are both DWP secondees. After exchanging an overview of our current work, we arrange to meet up formally in Manchester and continue our learning and joint working.
We hold our first Engagement Manager team telekit this morning and agree that we’ll continue the format on a fortnightly basis. With 7 Engagement Managers and 2 Heads of Engagement, we decide to use a speed dating style, and each give a 5 minute update to keep the meeting rolling.
The Centre has received a request from KMB Consulting which is preparing a webinar for local partnerships participating in a Big Lottery Fund programme. It is aimed at improving customer journeys for people with multiple needs. One of the things that the project managers have indicated is that they would like some case studies that illustrate successful development of information sharing protocols with statutory sector services. Before Christmas I had been working in Melton Mowbray, which is successfully sharing customer information between the public and voluntary sectors, so I speak with the Strategic Transformation Lead at Melton Borough Council to ask if he would like to be involved in this initiative – and he agrees.
I use the rest of the day to research and collate evidence for a triage tool I am developing. This has come about from seeing the holistic staff role being developed across the welfare agenda services in DWP and local authorities and the probation service.Next week, colleagues from the team are meeting up in Leicester to develop this further. I also referred to the project in my blog and asked for case studies that we can use in a pilot to test out the tool.
That’s about all I can fit in this week so I pack up and get ready for the weekend!
Read our previous blogs about the work of our team at the links below: