Week Notes #5

It’s week 5 of Week Notes and I’m finding it to be a surprisingly soothing practice.

Much of the time I’m writing with a purpose, a specific subject matter or even in another voice, but I feel like I’m getting used to writing freely and reflectively again.

 I also feel like I’m starting the new week afresh having written down my thoughts and feeling from the previous one; so for anyone considering giving week notes a go, I’d say just dive in and see where it takes you.

It’s been another busy week in public health comms with visitors from the SHARPja, Novel Coronavirus support and lots of thinking about the importance of sustainability and legacy in the content we create.

It was great to host fellow WP2 colleagues from Finland, giving us an opportunity to discuss the work of SHARP and introduce them to Public Health Wales and our ways of working.

It was fascinating to gain insight from their previous work on joint actions and compare our very similar approaches to public health. Spending the two days talking, planning and workshopping with colleagues really reinforced the importance of face to face communications, bringing people around the table, around a particular subject and using the energy of that space to really propel ourselves forward.

Something I found myself talking about a lot (which was eagerly welcomed) was the legacy of the content we create. One of my key deliverables in this joint action is to create a blueprint for dissemination for future joint actions, and to help ensure the sustainable implementation of the joint action beyond its completion.

For me it’s important that we not only create content that can be shared and understood in a future context, but that we also document the journey of the action itself. As someone who has always taken pride in their ability to take individual stories and turn them into collective action, my hope is that I can work with the WP leaders to re-tell the development of the action in a way that inspires and informs future actions; particularly concerning sustainability and joined up working.

One thing that has plagued my mind a lot this week is the treatment of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by some media outlets.

I will emphasise that this is some media outlets, as the vast majority that I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with are taking their responsibility in this situation very seriously. However, there certainly feels like there are some using this as an opportunity to boost their views and post click bait headlines that are not only misleading but dangerous.

While many will think, ‘it’s only a headline’, what it actually does is cause panic. One person reads the headline and they talk about it with a friend, that friend post about it on their social media which gets shared across different networks; and then suddenly an entire region of the country is worried about a non-existent confirmed case.

Many of those people will then flood an already busy phoneline with well-intended but misinformed calls that could very well take up the place of someone who really does need the urgent support of a professional.

We then have the media attention given to things like panic buying.

Hard to believe this was captioned with ‘panic buying empties shelves’…… looks pretty full to me!

The problem we have is that panic buying is seen as far more newsworthy than the facts. And it’s a shame because for every person out there panic buying toilet roll and pasta (neither of which are confirmed as potential cures by the way), there are just as many people simply following the guidance. But we don’t hear about them because common sense doesn’t have news value. Nobody is going to click on ‘family continues to follow guidance as they go about their daily business’- that would be far to useful!

No, the problem is that disaster sells, even if its faux disaster in the form of one food store with a few empty shelves. The problem is that media outlets propel this narrative in order to capitalise on the issue and detract from more important messages. The problem is that there is not enough of a sense of responsibility to help people separate fact from farce which in turn creates distrust and confusion.

Just today I heard Nigel Farrage on LBC posturing that people who are still flying into the UK from Milan ‘probably aren’t’ being screened as they enter the country. And to me it’s so frustrating that this posturing is presented as and will be received as fact. I mean, why would he go to all the effort of checking to see if flights had landed but not explore the pivotal point of his non-argument and clarify whether or not people were being screened…..I’ll tell you why, because the answer ‘probably’ entails some level of common sense which we know has no news value!

On a more positive note…

This week it was my pleasure to co-host Discovering Leadership; a collaboration event between Heads Up and the Future Leaders Network in Wales (sponsored by Loosemores Solicitors). I was incredibly proud of the speakers we were able to bring together and the mixture of stories and experiences they shared that revealed a common thread across our diverse panel.

For me, the biggest takeaway from that event was that leadership isn’t a role or a position of authority, it’s an attitude and a determination to create change. It’s raising others around you and by consequence raising yourself with them not above them. It’s about becoming a vessel for change, not simply the actions of individual but the collective difference they can make.  

It’s incredible to see the same themes coming back again and again. I can’t recall a panellist that hasn’t spoken about, passion, a hunger for change, imposter syndrome or the importance of collaboration. It really does provide hope, especially when you see the way young people are working together to create the changes today that we should have been making a generation ago.

Read of the week

This week’s read of the week comes from David Clubb of Afallen. We all get caught up in the social media cycle which can be a fairly cruel place at times… but what if it didn’t have to be?

Thank you to everyone who has made this a great week and to those following along. If you have any tips, suggestions or requests for things you’d like to see included or discussed, please do get in touch.

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