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HETT North 24: A Recap of Inspiring Sessions on Tech, Diversity, and Allyship

Event wrap-up by OHT Fellow, Bernie Clarke

It was so lovely this week to be at HETT North following the success of last year.  This year the event had been upgraded to the main GMEX hall.  Its always a pleasure to go and have the first coffee and chats of the day in the speakers lounge,  as someone who has always found ‘networking’ at events to be a little daunting, having the speakers lounge to go to and the obvious thing in common that you are all speaking gives instant connection and makes breaking the ice that bit easier.


Last year at HETT North – Alex, Charlotte and myself delivered a standing room only session around female leadership in tech in the NHS, Alex was sorely missed at this years event but we will shortly be reunited when she joins us at Digital Rewired. 


After a wizz around the floor hall to see who was there and a check of the itinerary, I went to see Sam Shah do his opening address, Sam is always a great ally of our work with OHT and was nice to go and support him whilst he opened.  Yasmine Dar, The Lord Mayor of Manchester, followed Sam with the Keynote and she explained she was the first women of colour to hold the role,  she looked amazing with her formal attire. 


There were key talks I wanted to take in the first being Train, Retain, Reform – How will Digital Support the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan Delivery? Great to hear from Henrietta Mbeah- Bankas and Catherine Toole both straight talking women who spoke about the need for change and upskilling. 


Charlotte Lewis arrived and we did a short prep for our session which was happening later that day, focused on Diversity and Inclusion and titled “you got an (Ally) in me”. We set the room up and headed off to find people we know and join in the conversation. 


I don’t know whether it was being in the North or the sense of community on the day but I absolutely love seeing people you normally see on a teams call in person and absolutely love the amount of hugs given out!


Myself and Charlotte were both keen to listen to the NHS Frontline Digitisation talk and headed off to the Integrated Care Forum to listen to Anita Chanda, Chris Monk, Indi Singh and Richard Rees-Jones discuss support needed for EPR journeys. 


Nosheen Hussain joined us directly after this talk and it was so lovely to meet in person. Nosheen has been a superstar since joining our Manchester Hub, throwing herself in to helping us with preparing for future sessions.  So it was great to return the favour and support Nosheen with networking and introducing her to people we knew. 


After a bit more chatting and listening, we bumped into the lovely Angela Maragna who had come up from London to join us and offer support. It's always brilliant to see her and she has a hugely calming effect on me which is so helpful just before the nerves kick in when running a session. Thank you for always being our cheer leader Angela!


It was soon 2pm and time to start our Allyship session, you never know how many people will come along and get involved but we had a lovely number circa 25 people took part in the conversation.  It was brilliant to have a mix of men and women, brilliant to have a mix of NHS and supplier side people and brilliant to have a mix of backgrounds, ages and ethnicity.


We discussed:

  • What it means to be an ally

  • What difference having an ally would have made to our careers,

  • If imposter syndrome has played a part in personal experiences

  • Examples of where allyship can be demonstrated

  • What the lack of allyship can cause

  • What it takes to call out poor behaviour

  • How we can work on removing our bias and

  • How we can make our workplaces better places through allyship.


The conversation went on way past 3pm and I think and hope everyone enjoyed participating and contributing to the session, the more we talk about the topic the easier it becomes. 


And just like that the day is over and its time to go.  Until next year HETT North!


We are now well underway with our next event at Rewired and are looking forward to seeing you there.  We were also asked back to HETT in London in September so see you in March at Digital Rewired and HETT in September!


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