Innovation 2023 five minutes with… Christine Bellamy of the UK Government Digital Service

By on 16/03/2023 | Updated on 16/03/2023

In this sister series to our ‘Five minutes with’ interviews, we share insights from the civil and public service leaders that will be speaking at our free Innovation conference. Taking place in London on 21 March 2023, and available to stream on demand, during the event officials from all over the world will promote and develop new approaches to policymaking and service delivery.

In this interview, Christine Bellamy, director of publishing, GOV.UK, Government Digital Service – who will join the conference session on innovation in inclusion – tells GGF about enabling school children to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking inspiration from Singapore’s LifeSG app, and her most treasured possession.

Click here to register for Innovation 2023

What are you most interested in discussing at Innovation 2023?

I want to discuss how we can make sure GOV.UK is accessible to all, including the audiences of the population we currently underserve. I want to hear from my peers at Innovation 2023 about what innovative ways they reach their users, and the channels they use. 

What drew you to a career in the civil service? 

I wanted to continue working on products that make a difference to people’s lives, at times of urgent need. In my previous role at the BBC, I led the product team behind enabling school children to continue their studies during COVID-19, and also providing the platform for essential journalism for major events including COVID and the war in Ukraine. These experiences confirmed my ambition to work somewhere I can help people when they need it most, which led me to the civil service. 

What have you achieved in your career that you’re most proud of?

I had the privilege of leading GOV.UK’s response following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. At moments of global and national significance, GOV.UK needs to provide accurate, reliable and clear information, and I’m extremely proud of the team’s efforts to deliver for the millions of people coming to GOV.UK.

What do you like most about working in the civil service?

The amazing people I get to work with. Every day you work with people that have integrity, passion and care deeply about the outcomes for citizens. 

How might the civil service be different in 25 years’ time?

It will be, and feel, more digital. The Government Digital Service’s mission is to make digital government simpler, clearer and faster for everyone, and we are working hard to make that happen. 

Which country’s civil service are you most inspired by and why? 

I’m interested in what’s happening in Singapore. The nation is widely recognised as a digital leader and takes an active role in shaping international standards and discussions in the digital government space. I’ve particularly been following the government app LifeSG, which was relaunched in 2020. The app has a diverse range of government services available to users from end-of-life planning to registering a birth, and today eight in 10 child births are registered through LifeSG.  

What UK projects or innovations might your peers overseas find valuable?

We are always keen to share our work, and have this ambition enshrined in our tenth design principle: Make things open: it makes things better. We work in the open through our blogs (GDS Blog and Inside GOV.UK), coding in the open on GitHub and speaking at events such as Innovation 2023. 

If you weren’t a civil servant, what would you be?  

I’d make the move across the pond to be the product director for the New York Times (if they would have me).

What is your favourite thing to do at the weekend?  

I love fell walking, and luckily live close enough to head to the Lake District. Getting together with family, friends and the dog and all sharing the effort of a hike – followed by a pint – would be an ideal weekend for me.

What is your most treasured possession?  

My dad was a trawler skipper. My most treasured possession is his Dockcard which shows every boat he’s ever sailed on and the places he docked at over 60 years at sea. It’s his life’s journey laid out on four pieces of paper. I can even find the boat he was sailing on when I was born! 

More from this series: 
Laura Gilbert, 10 Downing Street chief analyst
Peter Pogačar, director general of Slovenia’s Ministry of Public Administration
Ann Dunkin, US Department of Energy CIO

Want to write for GGF? We are always looking to hear from public and civil servants on the latest developments in their organisation – please get in touch below or email [email protected]

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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