SHL!ve Digital week – the ambition behind the project – an interview with the organisers

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

SHLIVE DIGITAL WEEK 21st - 25th September 2020

As a collective movement, Safer Highways has never been afraid of facing a challenge head on. From its inception it has never shied away, from bringing together an industry which operated in a silo mentality, to organising the first ever sector wide mental health survey and then last year launching the first ever industry-wide safety stand down event in SHL!ve.

With the impact of covid-19 having widespread ramifications across all engagement events the organisers yesterday announced SHL!ve digital week, a series of 25 webinars across 5 days in September designed to ensure that Health, Safety and Wellbeing remains at the forefront of business leaders consciousness – even in times of crisis.

Here we talk to the architects of this, Kevin Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Safer Highways, and Rachel Brent, Operations Manager of the same organisation, about what we can expect from the week.

SH: We have seen over the last few months as Covid has taken hold of the sector a move towards digitalisation of events but can you explain the rationale behind a full week of content.

KR: SHL!ve has, in effect not only become a very important event in the Highways sector calendar but also way beyond this. It delivers vital information and also offers the opportunity to network with peers and share best practice.

With our working life changing so significantly we had to adapt and as such a full calendar year without the opportunity to learn from our peers was simply not an option.

We looked at many alternatives between myself and the Ops team and sadly we couldn’t find a way to make this work on a face to face basis given current government guidance and therefore, we took the decision to make the 2020 event digital.

SH: SHL!ve is well known for its multiple streams tackling different challenges around Health, Safety and Wellbeing as well as Environmental issues and Social Responsibility, how do you intend to fulfil this mandate digitally?

RB: We have worked with our partners and sponsors to design 5 days of content which will each cover a specific content area; for example day 2 is entitled innovative futures and will tackle challenges we face around having an industry fit for the future.

A great deal of consultation has taken place with both our exec and board around subjects we cover and we are extremely grateful for not just their, but also our sponsors, support.

SH: So how will the week be structured?

KR: As Rachel said we have spent a number of weeks examining key topics, after all SHL!ve has 10 content hubs and we simply could not cover all of them so we have cherry-picked the ones we feel we can do justice to on this platform.

RB: As Kev has outlined our sponsors have been key in driving the agenda, as have all of our Safer Highways working groups.

Our aim is to have a programme which is flexible and allows people to ‘dip’ in and out of the week at points which they feel are the most relevant to them.

We are aiming to announce our full line-up by the end of June to allow everyone the opportunity to effectively review where they feel they should give up their time to engage.

SH: We have seen a number of organisations move their events to a digital platform and run a small number of webinars online, what you are propositioning with Digital Week, takes this to a whole new level from a logistical perspective how will this work?

KR: Firstly, when we held our Mental Health Summit Virtually at the beginning of May this was a massive task especially given we wanted to smash the norm of a voice behind a powerpoint in what is the commonly accepted webinar.

We effectively live-streamed a whole conference with those in attendance able to see both the presentation slides and the presenter. Our aim is to do the same for Digital Week and indeed we are exploring the possibility of some of this taking place in environments such as TV studios where social distancing can be adhered to.

RB: Obviously from a logistical perspective, running 25 webinars across 5 days live would be a tall ask. Therefore, certain industry briefings and interviews will be pre-recorded with a live question and answer session at the end.

This has been done to ensure the quality of output is at its highest, as this is something myself, Kev and Holly actively wanted to ensure.

SH: The most unique selling point of SHL!ve for delegates has always been the ability to see innovation at work in a simulated environment, how are you planning to showcase this virtually.

KR: In short innovation in approach from our partner organisations.

RB: We realise that a digital environment can’t ever replace the physical aspect of our event, however, with the advent of video technology, as well as the ability to ask questions in a virtual environment, we hope to come, in some way, close to this. The Friday will be given over to dynamic displays of innovation and we are currently working towards the most interactive solution we can find to effect a “show and tell” environment. With a board of contractors who sit at the front of driving Health, Safety and Wellbeing we are being challenged to drive the best ways of doing just this and our aspirations are that by the end of June we will be in a position to unveil this to the sector.

SH: Finally, what does this mean for SHL!ve? Are you planning to simply skip a year?

RB: No, we have had extensive plans in place for a number of weeks and indeed have been liaising with the HSE through out our thought process.

Our plan currently is that we will run our 2020 awards on a rescheduled date of the 15th December at the QEII centre in London, with SHL!ve 2021 taking place 21st-22ndApril 2021 at the new venue of the East of England Conference Centre.

Throughout this whole process it has always been our belief that maintaining dialogue was the correct approach and as such our desire to deliver the event at the earliest possible time has remained our priority.

For more information or indeed to become involved in our programme email

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