Author Bio ▼

Heather Beach is Founder and Managing Director of The Healthy Work Company and has been running businesses in health and safety for over 20 years. Having run Barbour, SHP and Safety and Health Expo, she is now running her own business. The Healthy Work Company provides solutions which drive the wellbeing agenda to enable thriving in the workplace at all levels. Offering more than simply training, it delivers strategic support for your wellbeing programme. "We are driving the mental health agenda towards how human beings thrive in life – often through work, not in spite of it!"Heather can be reached on [email protected].
April 3, 2023

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women in health & safety

What is Safety Thirst events and what does it have to do with Equity?

SHP hears from Heather Beach, from Healthy Work Company, as she discusses Safety Thirst, gatherings aimed to create a local community network within health and safety. 

Women in Health and Safety began in 2015 and was born out of Safety & Health Expo, now running in partnership with Healthy Work Company and SHP.

We’ve run over 50 major events around the country since then and have an ongoing programme of webinars, started during covid.  However, the fastest growing area of our activity (and what keeps us busiest currently) is the Safety Thirst events.

Safety Thirst event, Essex

Past Safety Thirst event, Essex

Very short history of Safety Thirst

At Safety & Health Expo in London last year during the Women in Health and Safety networking event, a few of us from the committee were discussing how we get face to face events running again as it was just so good to get together in person.

The challenge with running a face to face event from an organiser perspective is that it needs to be hosted somewhere and catering needs providing. As we don’t charge people to be a member of the network, we need a willing host organisation to work with us to do it and many have – including Mace, Shirley Parsons, the HSE, HSE recruitment to name but a few.  Usually in London; sometimes in Birmingham or Leeds.

Running events in the past has felt very labour intensive as it required a pro-active host too!  It also required choosing an area which people to be close enough by that they could come for the afternoon/evening. (Our next event by the way is at Visa on 20th April – and we have a wonderful host there in Jay Vekaria!)
Clare Saunders came up with a corker of an idea. Why not just allow people to host these in pubs or free places around the country? They buy their own drinks and nibbles and it is just incredibly informal.

What is a Safety Thirst?

Safety Thirst is an informal gathering of women in health and safety (and their supporters) to get together in a way which is local to them.  Normally around 10 to 15 people show up. They buy their own drinks and nibbles and as the reports of these events from hosts have said “they have a natter”.  Forming relationships with other women in the community who are in health and safety; finding a mentor or mentee; sharing a problem. All without the formality of an officially run event.

How does Women in Health and Safety run these?

  • You approach us by emailing [email protected] you tell us your area and the pub or venue you have in mind
  • We put an event on Eventbrite, send you the link and “market” it to our list of UK women in health and safety – around 1300 people.
  • We and (we encourage you to do this too) post on LinkedIn
  • A week prior, we send you the email addresses of those coming so that you can encourage them to make sure they get there.
  • You send us a number of attendees, a photo and also post it on LinkedIn

Past Safety Thirst event, East Midlands

Why do I mention equity?

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. And, yet another challenge with running events for women has been what time to run them.  We have had criticism that running them in an evening means that women can’t get there because of childcare issues.

Maybe this isn’t how things should be.  But it is somehow the way they are.

Running them in the day can be equally unpopular. Men tend to prioritise networking in a way which women often don’t. Women may perceive their value in doing a good job and may even feel guilty taking time away to network especially if they are doing shorter hours.  Then we have the fact that we are now often working from home which makes a trip to the nearest city even more unpalatable.

Hence Safety Thirst is an accidental support for equity! It is so much easier to go fifteen minutes down the road and build your network that way.

If you would like to join our mailing list please do so here. If you would like to run a Safety Thirst near you please email [email protected].  To find an event near you – go to Safety Thirsts on Eventbrite

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