Since my last update I have continued joining the dots between our wide range of stakeholders. I have been meeting members working in local authorities, within a wide variety of organisations and within our approved places of learning. Thank you to the county and regional EH groups who invited me to share CIEH updates across this time.
Over the last couple of months I have met with teams in the Association of Directors of Public Health interested in creating partnership approaches for mutually beneficial projects. We have also been participating in roundtable meetings with the UK Security Agency. I have been championing the work of members involved in mental health work as a public health issue and recorded a podcast on this topic. Thank you to members who have reached out to offer insights for strengthening our reach in public health which spans across EH. We are going to be approaching members to create a public health advisory panel in due course, so keep an eye on our platforms to access volunteer opportunities.
On the food side it was great to meet with members and non-members of the Herts, Beds, MK Food Liaison Group at their meeting in Letchworth Garden City where I ran into an EHO I used to work with at Cambridge City Council! I observed the work of our policy and campaigns team as we sought the views of CIEH members working in local authorities and in the private sector in the response to the recent FSA consultation on their proposals for a modernised food hygiene delivery model. I hosted the first day of our CIEH Food Safety Conference and attended the food safety coffee catch up. The events and conferences team are within my directorate and currently planning well into 2024. I have also met with stakeholders from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) to discuss policy priorities and positioning. We have agreed, given the unique challenges faced by port health members right now, that we will establish a member advisory panel for this area which we are going to create. Again, we will be reaching out to members interested in getting involved here too.
The work of our Housing Advisory Panel has been phenomenal with significant work undertaken by our volunteer members who are actively engaging on behalf of CIEH with the UK Government. This panel are providing expert input into the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) review of the Decent Homes Standard. The DLUHC review team recently held a special “CIEH Sounding Board” meeting which was attended by seven members of our panel. Also, two members of the panel spoke to BBC News on the topic of the Renters (Reform) Bill.
In environmental protection we are continuing to campaign for tighter regulation in respect of domestic fuel burners and a member of our Environmental Protection Advisory Panel gave evidence to the Environmental Audit parliamentary select committee on the issue of indoor and outdoor air quality targets. The panel have also been busy responding to the Welsh Government’s Environment (Air Quality and Soundscapes) (Wales) Bill, with several members giving evidence to the Climate Change, Environment, and Infrastructure Committee in the Senedd. They are also busy sharing their views to the Noise and Soundscapes Plan for Wales, as well as sharing their views on a Defra pre-consultation on extending the Domestic Fuels legislation in England.
Health and safety
I had a fantastic welcome from the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) when I gave my first presentation on the work of environmental health professionals to their members. Working alongside our colleagues here provides us with data and evidence to demonstrate the value we all bring by instigating controls which place people and their health first. Watch this space for more joint working with BOHS!
I am excited to be establishing new networks within health and safety. I attended the HSE AGM in Bootle and followed this up with conversations with members of the HSE Board, HSE policymakers and HSE professionals keen to establish closer relationships as a health and safety co-regulator. I am continuing to be active in the work being undertaken with the Occupational Safety and Health Alliance as we prepare to campaign jointly, with other stakeholders, on stress and mental health in the autumn. We are establishing ever closer working relationships with a range of organisations to enhance support for our members to take a risk-based perspective across EH. I am looking forward to meeting with the Health and Safety Advisory Panel in the coming weeks to exchange ideas and insights in this regard.
Growing our volunteer network
Internally I am working with colleagues to establish our advisory panels as a positive conduit for member engagement. We are currently reviewing terms of reference for the new panels which will support our volunteer members who are active here, which will in turn strengthen our policy positions and partnership capabilities across EH for the benefit of CIEH and our broader profession. The plan will be to balance skills and create opportunities to form satellite groups to undertake deep dives into work aligned with CIEH strategic aims and objectives. All of this is creating a sustainable golden thread of member engagement across CIEH and out into our communities locally, nationally and internationally.
We have held meetings with CIEH members who are reigniting a CIEH Enterprise Network which is being established to represent the work of members working in the commercial, industrial and third sectors. Members here are keen to create new initiatives from the autumn so follow CIEH social media to find out how to get involved. The network will be open to all members including EHO’s working within local authorities keen to learn more from this perspective. There is real strength when we can come together from across different sectors for a common cause.
Extending our partnerships
So much of what we do as environmental health professionals does not stop at our borders, so it is important for our voice to be heard at a global level too. Within a fortnight I attended two conferences with this aim. The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Conference – focusing on reducing food waste, cutting carbon and protecting critical water resources in London. I joined discussions with members of the Capitals Coalition who are working with a range of organisations including the finance sector to transform the way we do business to create more integrated decision-making across nature, people and society. Environmental health straddles social sustainability issues both in and out of work so delegates here were keen to hear how an EH perspective could strengthen this work. This is crucial if the work we value and care about is to be properly resourced. I also spoke to the board of National Environmental Health Association based in USA about how we can do more as partners on the global environmental health stage. Jon Buttolph, Associate Director of Membership and Professional Development and I, recently met with the World Health Organisation as we continue to campaign for improved resourcing of environmental health services. We also wrote to UK MP’s highlighting EH priorities as part of the CIEH manifesto and highlighted concerns regarding UK Government’s smarter regulation proposals.
Our work with accredited places of learning is crucial and it has been great to see so many posts on social media as environmental health students graduate. We are keen to involve students in a variety of volunteering activities and new opportunities will be opening up. CIEH Chief Executive Dr Phil James and I were invited to the Military Environmental Health BSc (Hons) course graduation and phase 2 pass-off ceremony at the Defence Medical Academy in Lichfield. It was inspiring to share our experiences in EH and meet CIEH members working in EH around the world for the military. I sat in on an equally inspiring session with CIEH mentors and met with our President Julie Barratt to discuss the role of the Presidential team. Having served myself as an elected Vice-President and President in IOSH I am keen to work together here to continue to build external visibility in all that we do. I have been working with Justin Turner, Associate Director of Operations as we review our professional development products with partners to deliver what members need whether they be working within local authorities, the commercial, industrial or third sectors.
As well as external affairs and member engagement my position in the Executive Management Team (EMT) means attendance at Board meetings, board sub-committees and working with Fran McCloskey, Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services to ensure we can deliver on time and on budget. This can sometimes mean making challenging choices. The EMT work closely together and we meet at least once per week to discuss day-to-day operational activities within CIEH internal teams.
Our internal teams within CIEH work incredibly hard to support EH initiatives and our members. More regular updates are communicated via our weekly member connect email. I can honestly say I am working with a highly professional and dedicated crew absolutely putting our members, CIEH and the broader profession at the heart of all they do. The real power is when we work in true partnership no matter where we work and across our specialisms to fulfil our vision of safer, cleaner, healthier environments for the benefit of all; placing people front and centre, both within work and within our communities.