Kay Cairns

I began working for the Civil Service in January 2010 as a support clerk for HM Passport Office and quickly established myself as capable of more.

I regularly supported change and identified ways of improving our processes. I became temporarily promoted to a Passport Examiner and carried out this role on and off for a number of years, depending on business needs.

I applied for promotion a few times but wasn’t successful at even securing an interview. I decided I needed more development and applied for the Civil Service Local NE Academy. This is a 12 month development programme aimed at those who have the potential of becoming our future leaders but have identified areas that require development in order to achieve that goal. I was accepted and took part in this placement during 2017, and I have never looked back. I was able to work with colleagues across the whole Civil Service and develop a project that I was really invested in and passionate about.

By the end of 2017 I had secured a promotion to Passport Officer on a permanent basis, and had attended two interviews at Executive Officer/Operational Team Leader level. When the Civil Service Local NE Academy came to an end I didn’t want my development to be over, so I applied for an additional role as Volunteer Project Lead. This was also within Civil Service Local but was balanced with my ‘day job’, and my role was to promote volunteering across the Civil Service, not just in my local Passport Office.

From January 2018 I began making contact with other government departments in the North East to establish their current volunteer commitment and promote the opportunities I had secured with local charities. The opportunities offered had been so successful within my own office that I began planning a more solid structure to volunteering within HM Passport Office Durham. I made the proposal to our Head of Operations and received the green light to launch our own structured volunteer programme.

Staff now have a single point of contact, myself, to discuss the volunteer opportunities available and all information needed. Volunteering is great for the workplace as it creates stronger links to the community and encourages corporate social responsibility, actively showing support for under-represented groups of the community. But the benefits for the individual, the charity, and their service users are immeasurable. Staff feel a sense of self-worth, increased confidence and could have the opportunity to develop their key skills. This in turn will make them feel happier in the workplace and improve office culture. In turn, this contributes towards the Civil Service commitment of 30,000 days to support the voluntary sector per year.

I am currently on the merit list for a permanent Operational Team Leader role, and continue to monitor, promote and develop the volunteer project. As you can probably tell, that is the real area I feel most passionate about.