Team LUHFT gets behind the scenes at Eurovision

When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself in the city, LUHFT’s James Woods jumped at the chance to get involved and used his skills to scoop the Head of Workforce role for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest!

Having already watched rehearsals, James said: “Kaarija from Finland’s performance is absolutely crazy so think he will do really well. But there’s a few others that will look great on TV. Last year I really liked Euphoria by Loreen which won for Sweden in 2012 and Loreen is in it again this year, singing inside a giant light box!

“I love the Eurovision, but that’s not the only reason I applied. I wanted to make sure that the world sees everything Liverpool is about and what a great city we live in. Eurovision is such a big event and having the opportunity to help showcase how great our city and its people are, was a big part of why I wanted to be part of this,” said James, whose full-time position is Head of Temporary Workforce at LUHFT, a role which involves working with a team that manage everything to do with temporary workers, including all of our bank and agency staff.

James added: “When it was announced that Eurovision would be hosted in Liverpool, my friend sent me the job opportunity and I didn’t think I had a chance of getting it! I spoke to my manager he was really supportive and understood that by allowing me to go on secondment, it would help with my career development and enhance the work I do at the Trust. This is something I’m really passionate about, so I feel really fortunate to have been able to take up this opportunity which started in February.”

So, what does Head of Workforce for Eurovision involve? James is responsible for the Workforce element of Eurovision, overseeing the volunteer programme (EuroVols) as well as the direct recruitment of paid staff, sub-contractors for security and catering, plus arranging and delivering training to new recruits. This all then feeds in to developing staffing plans to ensure the range of events are appropriately staffed and can run to plan.

Other key elements are working with Trade Unions and developing a strategy that ensures that the Eurovision leaves a positive legacy of ongoing employment opportunities for the people of the city.

“With a diverse range of staff and volunteers that have come from all over the country and other parts of the world, it’s important that everyone is trained and understands what they’re doing, where they can go for help and who to contact with issues. I’ve also been able to enjoy looking after creative jobs like the uniforms and event planning that I’ve never experienced before.

“It is important to me that this role gave me the chance to highlight how Eurovision will make things better for Liverpool in terms of employment opportunities and accessibility. Part of what we’ve been working on is making sure that businesses are accessible for staff and visitors; things like good wheelchair access is really important and by ensuring these are permanently in place after Eurovision, we can make sure that people with accessibility needs continue to have the best experience of the city in the future.

“We’ve also been doing work with local businesses on LGBTQ+ inclusivity to make sure that everyone receives the warmest welcome the city can offer. We know there is going to be a huge influx of people that haven’t been here before and all of this really exciting stuff is going to play a massive part in making the city shine for them, I know Liverpool will do us proud on the world stage!”

James joins a Teams call with presenter and singer Cheryl Baker

Talking about the contest, which runs until 13 May, James said: “There are so many different things going on! As with everything, Liverpool doesn’t do things by halves! There’s EuroFest, a simultaneous rave happening in town and Kyiv and even EuroLearn which promotes inclusivity and unity to school children, showing them how people of all backgrounds can all be connected by music. Then obviously there’s the Eurovision Village that is just going to be a full-on party at the Pier Head!

“I’ve seen the stage in the arena, and it looks amazing; I’ve been lucky enough to see the performers in rehearsal and will have a chance to see some of the great acts that are playing in the Village. Thankfully, I’m not working on the night of the final! I’ll be watching it from home with friends so I can really enjoy the night!”

James’ mum worked at the Trust as a Healthcare Assistant, and he followed in her footsteps by joining Aintree Hospital in 2008. He then moved to Sefton Council before returning to the NHS in 2014 when he joined the Royal as Deputy Staff Bank Manager, he then returned to Aintree as Temporary Staffing Manager in 2016. Once we became one Trust following a merger in 2018, James took on the role of Head of Temporary Workforce for LUHFT.

He said: “My mum, auntie, a couple of my uncles and two of my sisters have worked in the Trust so it’s something that’s throughout our family. I’ve been really lucky in my NHS career and I’ve been given some great opportunities by the Trust including being supported to gain my MBA through work.

“I’m loving this Eurovision role but I’m missing my team in Temporary Staffing, they’re 100% the best people to work alongside. I couldn’t ask for a better team and can’t wait to be back with them all in July!”