Celebrating International Women’s Day with Crew Manager Bev Roberts

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Crew Manager Bev Roberts (credit – TWFRS)

That was the sound and passionate advice given to Bev Roberts and her elder sisters Amanda and Donna by their parents, Joe and Betty, as they dreamt about their future.

With the rousing words proudly ringing in their ears the three sisters took on-board the mantra and used it to excel in their chosen careers in later life.

Now, 30 years later, Bev is a Crew Manager for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Amanda is as a Flight Service Manager, and Donna is as a Project Manager.

Bev says she doesn’t like to view herself as an inspiration but understands that she could help show other women how accessible a career as a firefighter can be.

So she is using International Women’s Day today (March 8th) to encourage other women to break the bias and follow in her footsteps.

“For me International Women’s Day is all about women embracing empowerment, and for everyone to celebrate the amazing achievements that have already been made by billions of women worldwide,” said Bev.

Bev, aged 40, of Ashington in Northumberland has been working at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service for the past 16-years.

She first started as a new recruit and has now worked her way up the career ladder as Crew Manager on White Watch at Newcastle Central Community Fire Station.

Bev explains how she’s inspired by her close female friends who on a daily basis just ‘get up and get on with things’ for the sake of their family, and who look to achieve new goals in their professional and private lives.

She also singles out her sisters and mam as being people who continue to motivate her on her own personal journey.

“I hope IWD promotes how people should strive towards becoming part of the solution rather than being part of the problem,” Bev said.

“I’d like to see people being educated about discrimination, taking action to drive gender equality, and embracing the achievements of women in the workplace across our communities.”

Bev adds: “I would like people to have the confidence to say no that’s not right, as people should know they have the right to challenge and speak out.”

After working for TWFRS for nearly 16-years Bev talks about how the Fire Service has come a long way in that time as it addresses the need to be an inclusive workforce.

Bev is the Co-Chair of the TWFRS Gender Network and the Service was recently rated as GOOD by HMICFRS inspectors in how they treat their people.

Their gender pay gap is 1.21% [median hourly rate], measuring up well against other organisations, while they have also adapted a new maternity policy, menopause policy, introduced flexible working to assist with childcare and become an Endometriosis Friendly and White Ribbon Accredited Employer.

Bev said: “I’m proud of the way we as a workforce have united together and shared our stories and experiences, good and bad, and how that has led towards positive change.  We know we have places to go and new directions to follow but we are on the right path.”

Bev, who is married to husband Richard, first studied at York St John University on a Sports and Exercise Science course before joining TWFRS.

She was looking to join a service that could offer her a prospering career with the appeal of the fire service being that every-day is different.

Bev says her mam Betty always installed in to her the importance of trying to help people in the local community, as Bev remembers her mam delivering essential groceries to neighbours not able to leave the house for whatever reason.

But even though it’s called International Women’s Day, Bev wanted to talk about allies and one of those people who has played a big part in her own life is dad, Joe.

Joe has lived in a home with four strong women but his morale support down the years has been priceless.  Bev reflects on how Joe’s guidance included saying “you can be and do anything that you want to do….nothing should hold you back!”

Join Bev by taking part in International Women’s Day.  For further information please visit www.internationalwomensday.com