Nearly 100 members attended the 33rd Women in Napo conference which was held in London in early April.
The conference theme was “Time for Change – Let’s get active!” a title chosen to reflect the turmoil in probation – and at national level the political log-jam over Brexit.
What we hadn’t bargained for when chosing the conference theme was just how much these issues would impact on our list of confirmed speakers from professional and political worlds, as a number of them had to pull out due to ramifications and consequences of one or other twist or turn in both the probation turmoil or Brexit crisis.
Conference delegates were disappointed that the advertised line up of speakers were unable to make it – but they did not let this get in the way of stopping their enjoyment of the event.
Given that this was the first Napo national conference since the National Audit Office probation progress report, the HMPI/Dame Glenys Stacey report, Working Links going into administration and Interserve going bust – our probation panel debate was always going to be one of the main features of the conference.
Special thanks are due to the speakers who stepped in last minute to be part of the probation debate; Becky Hart, NPS Operational Lead – Director General’s Office, Mary McFarlane, Director/Vice-chair Probation InstituTe and Patricia Johnson, chair of Napo London branch.
Patricia’s speech was one of the highlights of the conference giving an overview of the last few years of TR turmoil, reminding us of the campaign local branches organised to try and stop TR, how the programme has impacted on them and their members – and that Napo are now being vindicated in our stance against TR.
Another conference speaker with a CJ theme was Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London. Sophie gave the conference a distinct London feel – and London members commented on overlapping work they have been involved with and Sophie Linden’s team.
From the trade union world were pleased to that Nicola Smith, Joint Head of Equality and Strategy at the TUC was able to speak to the conference.
Both the quality of the speakers – and the comments and questions to them from the conference delegates members was very high.
The afternoon of the conference was given over to workshops.
Susan Murray, visiting TUC tutor led a workshop on occupational stress. Susan’s workshops were packed – reflecting that stress at work, mainly caused by high workloads, is such a huge problem for our members. By marking on body ‘maps’ members showed where work makes them hurt and they also completed the Napo stress survey. Suggestions from the workshop on what could be done to allievieate stress included launching a campaign to encourage members to complete the Napo forseeability notice, to re-issue Napo advice re NPS sickness absence procedure and to raise our concerns around poor quality of the clinical supervision contract.
Nicola Harding, criminologist at Lancaster University ran a workshop on the impact of women on probation. Members said they would feed lessons learnt back into their day job.
The other workshop was run by Katie Lomas, National Chair on our
ACTIV8R campaign. Her workshop led to comments on the conference feedback forms that following on from the conference many of the women wanted to get more involved in Napo.
The day finished with drawing the WiN raffle – the proceeds of which we will use for WiN events going forward.
Coming at a crucial time for Napo it was great that the conference had a real sense of excitement and purpose. Lots of women attended who we hadn’t seen at Napo events before. We hope that the good vibes from the conference will feed into our strategy for growth and probation re-unification campaign.
Thanks to Napo London branch activists who helped organise the conference – and helped out on the day.
Napo National Official and lead for Women in Napo