Tina, Direct Communications Unit Manager at 10 Downing Street
Hello my name is Tina and I currently manage the Number 10 Direct Communications Unit. I started work in the Cabinet Office in 1977 straight from school.
Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister when I joined the Civil Service and I remember clearly watching Mrs Thatcher arrive in Downing Street as the first woman to be Prime Minister back in 1979. I was a Committee Clerk during my time in the Cabinet Office and had organised many of the Cabinet and war Cabinet meetings during the time of the Falklands war – it was such a very busy time. My first role in Number 10 involved helping in Press Office back in the early 1980s when press notices were still circulated or handed out on pieces paper.
I took a career break to have my children, but returned in 1989 to join Number 10. I worked closely with the Duty Clerks (then called the Confidential Filing Office) on the review of the Number 10 papers from the 1960s; a fascinating time in our country’s political history.
I also worked part time in the Honours and Appointments Unit, which had previously been based in Number 10; preparing papers for church appointments and their interviews etc.
Then, when the Freedom of Information Act came in in 2005, I was involved in setting up the process to ensure requests were dealt with efficiently. As you can imagine we were inundated with requests from the start.
In Direct Communications Unit where I now work, I have had the opportunity to take on many roles; however I have been the Head of the Unit since 2006. It is a privilege to support the Prime Minister with the important communications he receives from members of the public.
The Direct Communications Unit is always busy and as well as ensuring we have the day to day work covered we have to be quite reactive depending on public stories and media stories. The way that we have also become very reliant on IT is a major change that I’ve seen in Number 10, the IT unit used to consist of 1 person and I actually didn’t get a computer to use until the mid-1990s!
It has been a privilege to work here and I have some fantastic memories, being introduced to Mikhail Gorbachev by Mrs Thatcher after she spotted me in the corridor was quite a surprise, and then getting to meet Nelson Mandela on a couple of occasions is certainly something I will never forget.
I'm so grateful to have had such a wonderful career and have met and worked with such wonderful people. Everyone is extremely proud to support the Prime Minister and the government of the day and more importantly to serve the public. Walking through the big black door is something that I will never take for granted.