I felt really honoured to be co-opted as Branch Chair earlier this year, but what a year to take the reins!!
Covid has forced us to meet virtually, and I do so miss the face to face meetings we had. Hopefully we will be able to stage these events again, but for the meantime IOSH have quite rightly told us that we cannot hold face to face meetings until into 2021.
Pre-Covid we met around 6-7 times a year. We organised some really great events, two or three speakers at a time, coffee and lunch, actually shaking hands and networking – even the odd sneaky hug for those colleagues who I have known for years.
We followed the events with a Committee meeting and were able to discuss and share ideas over coffee informally afterwards. This helped us gel as a Committee and I hope that I am able to encourage that same feeling in a virtual world. They are a great bunch, all with different talents and all volunteers, I am so thankful to them for their staying power.
Now we are living with Covid - what difference! The virtual world has limited us as a Committee as well as stretched us and has provided us with new opportunities that we didn’t have before. To explain:
Covid has limited us - humans are social creatures, and we are really made to get together in person and interact so, as with everyone, it has limited us socially and in face to face networking.
Covid has stretched us – in a strange virtual way, we are now more available to our members, and they rightly expect us to be available – because we have the technology and we can! We also now have to promote ourselves more as a Branch and are providing on average two events per month. There is such a choice of webinars and on-line events out there that we have to make ourselves attractive in our offerings. The events we are putting on, even though virtual, don’t just happen, they have to be organised, speakers arranged, and there is a delivery team in the background who are unseen, but so important. We are stretched also in learning how to deal with the technology and use it to its best.
However .…. Covid has also given us opportunities – we had always welcomed other branches and collaborated with them in various events, but we still remained quite locally focussed and East Anglia / UK-centric. But now, who would have thought that we would be welcoming members from our West Africa Branch to our East Anglia Branch meetings! We have had members join us from throughout the UK and Ireland, and from the world beyond. It just goes to prove the truly global nature of IOSH and you as an IOSH member are part of that global network.
So, the way forward as I see it is to continue to give our members value for their membership fees in offering some interesting and thought-provoking virtual events. We will try to offer events that are valuable and meaningful to you, our East Anglia Branch members, but that will also be helpful to our colleagues from further afield. I really hope that you will join us as often as you can.
The Committee and I are available to offer help and support to you, whether generally or with mentoring and advice with your IOSH journey at any level. Get in touch via:
Be careful out there, stay safe and stay in touch – Angela
Angela Abbs CMIOSH