OneTeamGov North

The OneTeamGovNorth event and unconference was held in Manchester on 22 March. We brought together people with influence and interest from all levels of central and local government, third sector and private sector organisations who deliver or improve services for citizens.

The themes were:

  • How can we collaborate and share to deliver services that improve citizens’ lives?
  • How can we design services that represent an inclusive society?


Summary of the day

Deborah Blanchard and Maxine Paintain from DWP Digital hosted the day, which was very fitting as they had the original idea to bring OneTeamGov to the north. They set delegates the question ‘Why are we here today?’. It was great to see the range of opinions in the room and that ‘To collaborate wildly’ came out on top.


Vimla Appadoo (FutureGov) summed up why OneTeamGov is needed, because we need to start seeing ourselves as one government, understanding the relationship between what local and central government can do, the role that third parties play in delivering government services and what we can do to create seamless services for citizens.

Tim Haworth and Joanne Gartland from DWP Greater Manchester District Operations brought to life the reasons for joining up services for citizens across central and local government. They shared their enthusiasm for working in the Civil Service, and the importance of collaboration. Tim summed it up by saying

‘The starting point is today - if we try and don’t let go, we might achieve something.’
— Tim Haworth

Molly Watt (Molly Watt Talks) and Chris Bush (Sigma) brilliantly explained the importance of accessible and inclusive technology. Molly described her own experience of Usher syndrome, the barriers she has faced and the opportunities that inclusively designed technology can bring. Chris emphasised the need to include users of differing abilities in usability sessions.

Fritz von Runte organised the unconference, encouraging people to pitch and making it a warm and fun experience for everyone. We had 18 unconference topics, which fitted neatly into the grid for three rounds of unconconference.


After the unconference, Holly Rae and Emma Collingridge from Stockport Council shared their approach to service design in local government. They had wise words for everyone who is delivering or improving services for citizens: ‘We need to be brave, respect experience and expertise, and create space so that we join up services for citizens.’


Feedback on the day

We asked delegates if the day had helped them to better understand inclusive design. It was good to see that 41% of respondents said that it had, or that it was a good start (39%).


Delegates also gave a view on whether OneTeamGovNorth would help us to join up public services in the north. There was a split of two-thirds of respondents believing that it would, and one-third not sure, which is a fair result given that this is the first OneTeamGov event in the north.



We also had really useful, constructive feedback on the design of the day itself. Some delegates would have liked more of an overview of OneTeamGov to set the context, more structure and themes, and less of a focus on central government, all of which is fair feedback. We’ll pass these on to future OneTeamGov events.


Practical actions

Matt Turner offered help: ‘Breaking big work into microactions is brill - starting them all at the same is still the big piece of work. Prioritising & sequencing is key. I can help.’

Celine McLoughlin asked: ‘Is anyone from Newcastle here today and interested in getting together to form a Newcastle chapter?’

Dinah Turner asked ‘Is anyone here interested in connecting on education challenges - if I’ve not met you already!’



People who were part of OneTeamGovNorth have shared blog posts about their experience.

Debbie Blanchard shared her role as one of the founders of OneTeamGovNorth.

Joanne Rewcastle shared the role of digital engagement in bringing OneTeamGov to the north.


What next?

Follow OneTeamGov on Twitter. Join OneTeamGov on Slack.

Be inspired by the MicroActions. Create your own and share with OneTeamGov.

Share the practical actions you took from OneTeamGovNorth through blog posts and we’ll share them here.

Keep in touch with #OneTeamGovGlobal, taking place in London on 16 July.



People at OneTeamGovNorth shared their MicroActions:

  • I will keep calling out when people differentiate between ‘small’ change and ‘transformational’ change - small changes can be transformational too!

  • I’m going to challenge myself and my colleagues to think about inclusion and accessibility when recruiting participants in user research and service design work

  • Make issues tangible, make problems visual and visible for people to see

  • Contact local schools/organisations working with young people to see how I can work with them to encourage young people to aspire to work in digital public sector

  • Recruit based on attributes and not abilities to shield teams from future changes in the methods and technologies required for inclusive service design

  • Reassure that automation is about removing the boring and repetitive parts of people’s work and not the job itself

  • Ask ‘who will this exclude?’ in your decision making processes to avoid a less effective re-inclusion phase

  • Keep speaking up when things go wrong. Don’t shy away from the bad stuff

  • I will start the ball rolling getting a community volunteer day arranged for those that signed up from session 2 table A discussion! Yay!

  • I’ll invite and share our research with other departments with who we have overlapping services

  • I’m going to continue investing in the community that’s been created today, carry on the conversation, identify more MicroActions to make change happen!

  • I will keep in touch with people here today and keep the conversations going. I will keep on being curious and will wear my OTG lanyard with pride!

  • I will stop using acronyms and digital language that doesn’t make sense to everyone

  • I will run a co-design session

  • I will stop talking about doing it and just do it