Public Service Options
Helping and inspiring public servants across the UK
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Public Service Options is mainly run on the basis of weekly, themed updates.  Here is where we keep text and links from previous themes, so they don't vanish.  The weekly cartoon or image can be viewed in the cartoon gallery or the image gallery (when we have one)
16 April 2011 theme:

Business - the new rock 'n' roll?

If you're leaving public service, do you have a business in you? Do you have a bright idea? This week's blogs are here to help you. We have ex-local authority music librarian turned music promoter Pete Feenstra on his career and his lessons learned in business; Michael Learmond of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) on how the FSB can help you; and Ameeta, a former civil servant who has pursued her passion and become a henna artist.
And if you're thinking about whether colleges have something to offer the prospective businessman, we have a contribution from Orpington College Business Futures which set out a wide array of opportunities, including apprenticeships and funded courses.
Darren Weale, owner, Public Service Options
8 April 2011 theme:

Stress, depression, and back room staff

 This week the BBC reported a 40% rise in drugs prescribed for depression.* It covers the story of Caitlin, from Manchester, "who has struggled with mental health problems since adolescence. But financial problems in the last year have made it worse and she has recently been prescribed anti-depressants. She used to work in a residential care home for children, but has been out of work for 12 months."

In 2011, public servants of all types from care home staff to police to charity workers to businesses working with the public sector are feeling the impact of funding and job cuts. Those in work will feel they have to show even more commitment to keep their jobs, yet recently "a study of 7,095 British civil service workers revealed that those who toiled 11 or more hours per day had a 67 percent higher risk of

coronary heart disease than their 9-to-5 officemates." **

Little wonder that public servants will be feeling extra stress and even becoming clinically depressed. I’ve seen it happen. That reinforces why it is so important to help and inspire serving and former public servants, as this site aims to do.

Public servants stress might be reduced if they could be reminded to be proud of what they do. For instance, I really value my binmen. They work really hard in unpleasant conditions and are some of the most cheerful people I know. I also valued the process experts I knew in the Civil Service who helped the police find ways to work better at less cost and drive up public (and police staff) satisfaction.

That pride should include the back of office people that enable the "frontline" to work directly with the public. Efficiency savings often concentrate on reducing "bureaucrats" and support functions, such as HR, training, secretaries and administrative staff. Yet people in support functions - like those process experts too - are often the oil that keeps the whole machine working, and deserve to be appreciated too.

Finally, I welcome a new partnership with the Benenden Healthcare Society, who will be helping to provide useful information about health through this website.

Darren Weale, owner, Public Service Options

Sources/further reading and help:

* BBC news on depression

** Civil Service study

Benenden members can call their 24-hour Stress Counselling  Helpline          
on 0845 050 5247
Benenden has advice available to all on healthy lifestyles here.

Army personnel can also call on their service Trauma Risk Management here.

1 April 2011 theme: 

"Sharing for success"

The theme this week is sharing for success, also known as purposeful collaboration and conversation.  You would think that with all the e-tools and apps today, those in public service can easily find and talk with each other to better deliver for the public, but this is far from the case. 
Conseq's Communities of Practice for Public Service are helping, as is this site by taking a cross-UK and cross sector approach, and so too are the NHS Networks , which are a year old - Happy Birthday to them and their 24,000 members.  Today's blogs (see left) feature fine examples of online and offline collaboration and tools you may not have heard of.
Yet barriers remain.  I tried to contact a government department this week with an idea that would boost an initiative from the Budget.  The first two departments passed me on to a third, and along the way a Press Officer said "we only talk to accredited members of the press".  I doubt the owners of Facebook are accredited press, yet they can reach more people than any single British newspaper.  In the third department I was given the names and numbers for two people.  They denied being the right ones. Back to the enquiry line, a new person said the other should not be giving out direct numbers and to e-mail the department.  Now, this is actually a better experience than going through the multiple menu options that many big businesses hide the people you need to speak to behind, but it still stifles the chance to have a great idea acted on quickly.  This week's theme shows that there are ways to interact across boundaries and that you do not always have to struggle to speak to someone you need to - and sometimes to get a great idea acted on quickly.        
25 March 2011 theme:

 "Not up to the job in the first place?"

A Civil Servant in his department’s redeployment pool recently said:

"The problem is, if I apply for a job it is assumed that because I am in the redeployment pool, I was not up my job in the first place and am not good enough for one now."

Across the public services, redeployment pools, surplus pools, and pre-surplus pools are sucking in more and more people who are have been doing a good job. Then there are the stories in the media which often focus on examples of failure in one public service or another and which might dampen the enthusiasm of private sector employers to take on the growing numbers of ex-public service staff looking for work.
This website will be more encouraging, featuring stories about people like Vicky, a school office manager who led a campaign which raised £26,600 for a school swimming pool.  The target was just £10,000.  Read about Vicky here.

This site aims to help and inspire public servants, and to show that they are not just up to their jobs, but are also capable of taking on new careers and starting businesses. It will:

  • Celebrate some of the successes of public servants;
  • Show that ex-public servants can succeed in new careers;
  • Provide information for staff in public service which could help them do a still better job or prepare for success in a new career.  Or to climb out of a redeployment pool

This site can also be used by people in the private and charity sectors  too. No one should have to sink in a pool without receiving a helping hand.

20% of any profit from the site for the tax year ending 5 April 2012 is going to 3 charities. These are the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust ( ); a local charity to the site owner in Kent, to be decided, and 1 other charity to be decided by a poll on this site.

Good luck to all of you. Enjoy the site and get in touch with your contributions, stories and ideas.

Public Service Options