Public Statement

Public Practice Seeks New Public Servants For Covid Recovery

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Public Practice has launched the recruitment drive for its seventh cohort of Associates: built environment experts who will take up placements of one year or longer within planning, housing and regeneration departments of local authorities and other public-sector bodies, such as NHS Trusts, from October 2021.

For the first time, Authorities within London and Sub-Regional Partnerships will have the opportunity to secure match funding through Public Practice for placements that help deliver the London Recovery Board’s economic recovery missions: High Streets for All, Digital Access for All, A Green New Deal and Good Work for Londoners. Associates recruited to economic recovery roles will help implement place-based projects, as well as support co-design, collaboration and knowledge-sharing across sub-regions and London as a whole.

The organisation is calling for expressions of interest from local authorities looking to bolster their in-house capacity with a diverse range of skills and expertise. The pandemic has placed local authorities under extraordinary strain, intensifying many of the challenges they already faced, and placing a renewed focus on place-based approaches to securing economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Functions such as economic development, community wealth building and high street regeneration are vital to the national COVID recovery. Public Practice’s most recent cohort, recruited amid the pandemic last summer, saw an unprecedented one in three Associates working on town centre recovery. The organisation expects this proportion to grow still further with this round of applications, reflecting a clear shift in councils’ priorities as the UK emerges from the pandemic.

Another key area of expertise in high demand from local authorities is environmental sustainability, as emphasis grows on the need for a green recovery from COVID. Past Public Practice cohorts have included sustainability experts ranging from environmental engineers to behavioural change specialists. As government action on the sustainability agenda ramps up in the run-up to COP26, expertise in areas such as active transport and green infrastructure looks set to be more sought after than ever, and Public Practice is calling for professionals in these areas to apply.

Since the first cohort launched in April 2018, Public Practice has placed 176 Associates across 46 Authorities. Figures compiled by Public Practice show that the talent attracted to the public sector by the programme is having a lasting impact on in house capacity. So far 91% of Associates have continued working within the public sector beyond the first 12 months. 93% of Authorities have returned to Public Practice for further placements.

Interested applicants should visit Public Practice’s website for full details, including an online open evening for applicants to find out more about applying to the programme and joining the public sector, which will be held on 29 April 2021.

Pooja Agrawal, Public Practice Co-Founder and incoming Chief Executive, said;

“The last year has been an incredibly challenging time for local government. Officers have responded with speed and creativity to the immediate crisis of COVID-19, from addressing poor health to food poverty and access to jobs. As we move into a phase of recovery, authorities have an important opportunity to take action that makes a long-term impact.

“What does a green recovery look like? What is the future of our town centres? And how do we build the resilience to overcome financial hardship? This is a vital moment for Local Authorities and government bodies to ask these questions, and Public Practice will bring multi-disciplinary skills of the highest talent to find place-based solutions in practice.”

Sarah Cary, Public Practice Board Member and Executive Director of Place at Enfield Council said:

“COVID-19 has shown in stark relief how our local places – our homes, high streets and open spaces – condition our personal health and the wider wellbeing of communities. It is clear we need a place-based approach to the recovery, and councils are leading the way.

“At Enfield, we have seen the value of officers including Public Practice Associates collaborating across disciplines and departments in areas like Angel Edmonton. The next cohort of Public Practice is an exciting opportunity for all kinds of authorities to use what we’ve learned over the last year to shape new ways of working, and in turn, shape the recovery so that it leads to fairer and more sustainable places.



Magali Thomson’s work has helped GOSH to look outwards at the public realm beyond the boundaries of the hospital from the perspective of children, and build connections with neighbouring organisations in Bloomsbury and Holborn.

Magali was placed as Project Lead for Placemaking at Great Ormond Street Hospital in Autumn 2019 with a brief to create a vision for a healthy, child-friendly public realm surrounding the hospital. Magali brought expertise as an architect and director at Marks Barfield, where she specialised in education projects, as well as experience advising The Children’s Trust, an organisation that provides rehabilitation to children with brain injuries. A focus has been tackling poor air quality, which has involved close collaboration with GOSH’s Head of Sustainability. Magali is staying on at GOSH to deliver the vision for Great Ormond Street; complementing GOSH’s primary purpose of caring for children who are unwell by creating healthier environments that prevent children from becoming unwell in the first place.

Vision of a future Great Ormond Street produced by patients at GOSH and local children working with artist Una Knox.

Tilly Ford has helped deliver Enfield’s Climate Action Plan through establishing a joined-up approach across the Council’s Place Directorate.

Enfield’s Climate Action Plan sets out how the Council will deliver on its targets of becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2030 and a carbon-neutral borough by 2040. Tilly, a sustainability professional with international experience spanning engineering and environmental design, joined Enfield through Public Practice in Spring 2020 to help put the plan into action. Tilly has developed methodologies for carrying out climate action tracking, carbon accounting and impact assessment in house, and has drawn on her experience of implementing low-carbon design solutions for educational buildings to pilot a scheme to decarbonise the Council’s schools estate. She has also helped to set up a cross-cutting Enfield Sustainable Buildings Board in collaboration with other officers including Rafe Bertram, Public Practice alumnus and Sustainability Facilitator for Meridian Water. Tilly is continuing at Enfield, with plans to establish Sustainable Design Standards for Enfield and manage the delivery of retrofits to ten corporate buildings.


Eleni Katrini has developed an online platform to engage communities across Newham in co-creating delivery plans to support the recovery of local high streets.

Eleni joined Newham Council in Autumn 2019 as a Senior Regeneration Manager. She initially ran a series of workshops with the Mayor of Newham and officers across the Council, including fellow Associates Yanni Pitsillides and Megan Charnley, using her previous experience of participatory planning and co-design projects in the US and UK. Six months into the placement, Newham’s town centres were hit hard by COVID-19, and the high streets programme pivoted into a delivery plan for the Council’s Towards a Better Newham COVID-19 Recovery Strategy. Eleni rapidly developed a new online engagement platform to enable remote public participation in the high streets programme, as well as increase engagement in decision-making on projects across the Council’s Regeneration Team and beyond. The High Streets programme was launched online in seven different languages, and is already being tested through co-design processes with communities in Green Street, Forest Gate, Manor Park and Little Ilford.


Jonathan Watson’s placement at the GLA has focused on bringing together boroughs, TfL, utility providers and other agencies to identify opportunities for a more collaborative approach to street works.

Jonathan joined the GLA’s recently established Infrastructure Team as a Senior Project Officer in Spring 2020 after previously working as a project manager at Network Rail. His work on improving collaboration across the Authority involved delivering 10 collaborative works sites within 12 months such as Fieldgate Street, in a dense neighbourhood next to one of London’s biggest mosques, where works were planned around community needs including religious holidays and flows of people coming to prayer. Jonathan has promoted street works as triggers for wider improvements to the public realm by integrating TfL Healthy Streets micro-interventions such as decluttering alongside utilities works. He is continuing at the GLA alongside fellow Associate Helen Markides, as well as a wider network of six Infrastructure Coordinators placed within boroughs.

Coordinated streetworks on Fieldgate Street, Tower Hamlets