A day in the life of being a National Vice Chair in Covid time

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A day in the life of being a National Vice Chair in Covid time

A day in the life of being a National Vice Chair in Covid time: Carole Doherty

The night before I decide to collate all paperwork and minutes ready for the next day to ensure I am presenting as super-efficient (Ha). Boris Johnson announces we are going into the third lockdown. All of a sudden my in box fills with meeting invites! I never did learn the knack of prioritising so try to ensure I can attend them all…

8.30 am

First of a series of daily meetings with the NPS Exec Director for Workforce and the Recovery Lead to enable us to raise any concerns to ensure they get picked up in a timely manner (having gone through the local line first of course). Today we reinforced the need for very clear and unambiguous messages to go out to the regional probation directors to suspend Accredited Programme delivery, UPW and any further reopening of offices in light of lockdown, and to ensure trade unions are involved in all the Covid risk assessments and EDMs.

(It does puzzle me how messages change as they travel through the different layers of the NPS, and it’s no wonder how confused I feel in some meetings where I think “I’m sure that’s not what was discussed!”)

9.30 am

From here it’s straight into the National Health and Safety meeting with HMPPS and the trade unions, where we raised the need for very clear and concise guidance, in particular, we raise again the importance of having a detailed process in relation to what happens in an office should someone there test positive for Covid 19, and the need for appropriate ventilation which includes windows being opened. We also suggest that there should be health and safety training for those who are tasked with the completion of the general risk assessments, as they are then responsible for ensuring staff safety in those premises. Sadly we had to ask for a communication to go out to remind LDU heads of the need to complete EDMs and risk assessments in conjunction with the trade unions, as this wasn’t happening across the board. Importantly we also discussed the benefits of having a standalone bullying policy.


Quick call to Katie Lomas (National Chair) as to any developments I need to know about and vice  versa and then grab a coffee before the next meeting.

11.30 am

Catch up with the local reps as to how things are progressing and if there is anything we need to follow up. Also an opportunity to celebrate a positive outcome of a difficult representation which had caused a great deal of detailed intense and hard work.

I never cease to be amazed at the dedication and commitment demonstrated by our reps in their motivation to ensure fairness and justice for our members.


JUPA (Joint Unions in Prison Alliance) – A meeting between the many unions involved in working in the prison, from education, nursing, prison officers, probation etc working together to campaign for safer working in the prisons and to request a whistleblowing policy to enable people to safely report their concerns. It’s really interesting to hear and see how the other trade unions work.


I was invited to attend an LDU’s first joint NPS and CRC meeting and to answer any questions, particularly in relation to health and safety. So pleased I could answer most of them…. Phew!


Following this it was time for the weekly joint meeting with the Regional Director and the Chairs of the trade unions, where local issues/concerns can be raised and dealt with speedily whilst we are in the middle of a pandemic. It is heartening to see this increased engagement with the trade unions and a real commitment to working together.

(I am starting now to wonder who I am or where I am!!!!)


Time for my last coffee of the day and then into a job evaluation panel to finish the day. These panels consist of three people, 1 from HR, 1 from the wider HMPPS and 1 from the trade unions and are brought together to work through new job descriptions and to reach an agreement as to the banding level based on responsibilities and what they do day to day within the job evaluation guidelines.


Meet up with Siobhan Foreman to go through the next policy consultation paper on our ever-growing list


Right, what’s in the diary for tomorrow? The question I ask myself every day is How did they all manage before Teams? Now sat with a glass of wine and reflecting just what a privilege it is to represent all our members in our Probation Services, who are such a committed, compassionate and professional group of people, dedicated to supporting people to make positive changes. Thank You, everyone

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