Jane Fallon: Moving the Midlands out of the shadows for public sector digital

Curium | 13 Sep 2018 | News | General News

Our guest blogger this week is Jane Fallon, Head of Digital at the Office of the Public Guardian, which is part of central government and based here in Birmingham. On 27 September, Jane will host a conference for 250 people from the public sector digital community to (in her words) “bring the Midlands out of the shadows when it comes to public sector digital”. Curium is proud to sponsor this event.

I’m Head of Digital at the Office of the Public Guardian. My wonderful team are based in Brum and Nottingham – both great cities with a wealth of talent.  According to Stack Overflow, there are more developers in Brum than any other city in the UK. There’s amazing space up for grabs, a real buzz to the city, and 5G coming our way baby!

Sometimes it’s a great idea that prompts action. Other times it’s a burning resentment and sense of injustice. Quite honestly, with me, it was a bit of both. That’s how Public Sector Digital Midlands was born.

Narked at the way the Midlands is often ‘skipped’ over, excited by the potential of the Local Government Digital Charter and, quite frankly, wanting to find some great opportunities for my team without them having to relocate, I’ve (hopefully) made something happen. I’m suitably proud of myself and so grateful to all the amazing people who’ve lent a hand.

I used to work at Government Digital Service, so I knew there were other central government teams based in the Midlands, some big local authorities, and a number of digital teams supporting the police, the NHS and other parts of the public sector.

My frustration was that there was no network to find out who was where, what they were doing, and how we might be able to work together, without having to communicate via London or visit it!

So on 27 September, we are holding our launch event for Public Sector Digital Midlands (I fully admit that doesn’t really trip off the tongue!). I have begged and borrowed, called in favours and generally made a nuisance of myself so we can put on this event for 250 people.

It’s been done around my ‘day’ job and being a single mum of seven-year-old twins, so it might be a little rough around the edges (I bought a multipack of lanyards off eBay!) but the response has been fantastic.

It seems a lot of people have been wanting the same thing. Most of the 250 tickets have sold and some fantastic sponsors have come to our aid on the way. Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor, is coming to support us, as well as Kevin Cunnington from GDS, and Paul Maltby from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Most importantly (sorry lads!), so many people from diverse teams, big and small, want to be part of this.

The aim of the event is to kick off a ‘movement’ to bring the Midlands out of the shadows when it comes to public sector digital.

We want to do three things:

  • Celebrate the fabulous work that’s already happening in the public sector in the Midlands
  • Work together to create an action plan for how we can better support each other and work in partnership across the region – no matter what part of the public sector digital people work in
  • Work together to find ways we can make the Midlands a destination for public sector digital teams, the suppliers who work with them, and the training providers who help skill up the workforce.

If we can achieve that, and then keep the momentum going, I will be so chuffed.

Curium will be sharing more content from the Public Sector Digital Midlands event, so watch this space or follow us on Twitter (@CuriumSolutions) and LinkedIn.

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