28 Feb 2023

Yesterday we welcomed members, sponsors and partners to the ALARM South Conference in Slough for the first time. The 2023 theme is Sustainable Action and Reaction, focusing on the skills and knowledge we need to respond to and prepare for whatever lies ahead.

Karen Locke, President-Elect of ALARM welcomed everyone to the first South Conference in almost ten years.

ALARM offers great opportunities for networking and sharing best practice with likeminded professionals – it really is a family.

First on the agenda was Konnie Huq, our keynote speaker and longest-serving female Blue Peter presenter, kindly sponsored by RMP. Konnie energised the crowd with an interactive game of Heads and Tails. Andrew Steel from Plexus was the lucky winner of a coveted Blue Peter badge from Konnie’s personal collection.

Konnie reminded us of the importance of resilience and seizing opportunities. Originally on a pathway to becoming an engineer, serendipity saw Konnie sidestep into tv presenting. Her sixth form tutor encouraged her to drop her Further Maths A Level and use her free periods to take up a roving reporting role for TVM where she interviewed little-known bands (at the time) including Take That.

If opportunity comes to you, grab it.

As a British-Asian woman in a competitive and fast-paced industry, Konnie is an advocate for diversity and inclusion, a recurring theme in her children’s books.

Be proud of who you are and use it to your advantage. Difference is an asset.

Next up was Lilly Spillman, a private sector Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Practitioner who previously worked for the London Borough of Havering. Lilly co-ordinated the response and recovery to concurrent fires in July 2022, including in Wennington village.

I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of emergency planning.

175 firefighters tackled a 15-hectare cornfield fire in Pea Lane Upminster, while 100 firefighters responded to a 40-hectare grassland fire in Wennington.

It was like a warzone. London Fire Brigade said it was the worst incident they had responded to since The Blitz.

The recovery phase is just as important as the response. Providing knowledge and services to those at greater risk of wildfires, such as hedge cutting services at a reduced cost to landowners, is paramount to mitigating future events.

As the second greenest London borough, we can’t stop grassfires from happening, but we can educate our communities to minimise the risk.

On Monday afternoon delegates split into breakout sessions. Karen Gooch and Nicola Simpson from Essex County Council partnered with Perry Hill from DWF to share how the Council use Roads AI to maintain their highway network, discussing the benefits for claims defensibility.

Jesper Glasius from Zurich Municipal, set out the key building blocks to ascertaining organisational risk maturity.

As our sector becomes increasingly complex through rapid changes in communities, technology and finances, it is imperative our organisations expand risk maturity for a wider focus on resilience.

Annie Terry and Nathan Hankin from Aon, discussed how to protect against cyber threats and the importance of insurance in mitigating potential losses.

Steve Bent from Gallagher shared practical, human-science based top tips to ensure leaders create the right climate to keep the workforce engaged, motivated and inspired.

Demands on leaders have never been greater, and with the pace change set to increase, it’s crucial that leaders have what it takes to land and lead change with impact.

Caroline Sanders, Katrina Boyd and Perry Hill, from DWF rounded up the day with their ever-popular interactive claims game.

After an engaging day of networking and learning, delegates put their dancing shoes on for the evening disco, sponsored by DWF.