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December 15, 2006

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Branches share secrets of their success

Sharing best practice is something the health and safety profession is renowned for, and this year’s Branch Officials’ Conference aimed to give branch volunteers more opportunity to find out what other branches are doing, while keeping them up to date with the latest developments at IOSH.

The conference, which took place either side of the AGM and Annual Dinner on 15-16 November at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, did away with the normal formal approach to encourage people to relax and share information in a friendly setting.

Ruth Doyle, director of communications, said: “Branch Officials’ Conference is about helping branch volunteers to improve the service they offer to IOSH members. It is about sharing the things that branches do well so that other branches can benefit.

“But it’s also an opportunity for us to let branches know about developments, future campaigns, and initiatives that we’d like them to get involved in.”

This year’s conference included ‘quick-fire rounds’, with 10-minute snippet presentations; a range of workshops; and an opportunity for the branches to share some of their best practice. Topics included making branch meetings unmissable, the research and development fund, putting media training into practice, developing a national campaign at a local level, and revitalising branch meetings.

Nattasha Freeman, chairman of the Midland Branch, said: “In the six years I’ve been coming to the conference, I’ve never known it to be so heavily focused on the lifeblood of IOSH — its branches. The workshops were an excellent opportunity to develop ideas that will contribute to future branch projects and the whole two days were about making the branches more effective and appealing to our members. I think everyone went away feeling positive.”

Max Bancroft, secretary of the Edinburgh Branch, was also positive: “The Branch Officials’ Conference is a great idea as it pulls people together from branches across IOSH to share ideas. That’s something I find really helpful.

“The ideas we get from other branches are always useful. I now know more about the West of Scotland Branch’s Certificate of Merit scheme and think it is a splendid idea that more of our branches should be doing, or working together on. I’ll also be taking some of the ideas on how to run branch meetings to our Executive Committee.”

And John Holden, chair of the Manchester and North West Districts Branch, said his branch is going to be looking to involve students from local universities in his branch’s decision-making after hearing Yorkshire Branch chair Tim Briggs’ talk: “We’ve had strong links with local universities in the past, and it’s certainly something we should develop in the future.

“I felt it was an excellent and really well-organised event. I felt the short, sharp shock treatment on presentations worked well, and it meant there were no numb bums. It was also pleasing to see president Lisa Fowlie and immediate past president Neil Budworth taking such an active interest.”

If you’d like to get involved with your branch, please visit

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