Robert Webb: The day that public services proved their worth

Five years ago, four young men set out on a journey from Leeds. They arrived in London in time for the morning rush hour and proceeded to detonate four bombs - three on the London Underground system and one on a bus. As well as killing themselves in the blasts, they killed 52 innocent people, as well as injuring a further 800.

Robert Webb: sister was killed in 7/7 attacks
Robert Webb: sister was killed in 7/7 attacks

My sister was one of the 52 people that they killed.

There are many stories of individual heroism, of ordinary people who saved lives that day. But in the days that followed, it was public sector workers that picked up the pieces. Our ambulance staff and doctors and nurses, our police and security services. Local and central government.  

I make no apology for using personal tragedy to illustrate the need for our public services. Without them, our nation’s response to the bombings would have been much more limited.

There is a question over the future of our public services as budgetary pressures bite hard. To my mind, the worth of so many of our public services was proven that day. As communicators, we have a responsibility to ensure that the less visible bits of what we do are made visible.

And let’s not forget the role of public service communicators. Westminster City Council won a CIPR Local Public Services group award for their communications work in the wake of the bombings. This year’s awards open soon. At a time when our public services including our communications teams are likely to face cuts to staffing and resources, winning awards is one way that we can use to prove our worth and create understanding of what we do.

Robert Webb is a communications manager at Monmouthshire County Council and a member of the CIPR Local Public Services group.

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