In this blog, Lesley Bullen, Head of Information Governance (Data Protection Officer) at The Guinness Partnership and Chair of the Effective Information Sharing & Security (EISS) Programme, reflects on how iNetwork has benefitted her throughout her career in the public sector and how it has enabled knowledge sharing and supporting organisations.

I can’t believe that it has been 20 years since iNetwork was Established. I was at Oldham Council when it started and I remember attending workshops that iNetwork put on for Data Protection and Information Security and finding a sense of reassurance that colleagues in other organisations were facing the same issues.

I left Oldham and went to Rochdale Council to manage the Performance Management and Information Governance Team in 2008 and at that time Rochdale wasn’t part of iNetwork. I believed in the work of the iNetwork so much in terms of how it supported our organisations and enabled knowledge sharing that I made a bid for Rochdale to join iNetwork. Happily this was agreed and Rochdale became part of iNetwork with me later joining the EISS programme group.

I then left Rochdale in 2013 and went from the Council to join the Guinness Partnership, a Social Housing Provider providing general needs housing across England.  Guinness were at the start of their Information Governance and Security journey so again knowing how much iNetwork could provide support we joined iNetwork and the WARP and happily again I joined the EISS programme group, providing updates on what was affected housing associations and how this aligned with the work Local Authorities and other third parties were also undertaking.

So I feel excited that I have been part of iNetwork’s journey and seen it grow from strength to strength through the years, enabling colleagues to get together and share experiences and, helping us shape our Information Sharing and Information Governance landscape. 

I also feel extremely honoured that I have been asked to chair the iNetwork EISS Programme this year and together with my colleagues on the group will continue to support iNetwork members to share best practice and exchange information as we see continued threats of cyberattacks and changes in the data protection landscape.

We are also starting to tread uncharted territory Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which feels a little bit like when the internet started, it’s small and growing and will explode. We need to work together to positively help our organisations take the opportunities AI offers whilst ensuring good governance is in place to manage and protect the personal and business data we hold.  So it’s reassuring to know that iNetwork are there to help us make our way through these complex issues.

So Happy 20th Anniversary iNetwork. 

If you have a fond memory of iNetwork or would like to write a short piece on how iNetwork has helped you or your organisation in the last 20 years then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch by dropping us an email at