White Hat Ball

White Hat Ball and the Royal Lancaster

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Since 2012 the White Hat Ball has been held at the stunning mid-century Royal Lancaster Hotel at Hyde Park. Regular attendees of the Ball will attest to the strong partnership between the hotel and the Ball, as the event has grown into a sell-out gala of over 650 guests in the Cyber Security industry.

We caught up with Royal Lancaster’s Deputy Director of Events William Harding, and Business Development Manager Petya Lazarova, who are working with the NSPCC and the White Hat committee to shape a stand-out White Hat Ball 2022 in these unfamiliar times.

Hi William and Petya! Thanks for joining us. What has the impact of the pandemic been to the hotel and has the reopening been a success?

Petya: The pandemic had a huge impact on the hospitality and events industries as a whole and it has taken patience and resilience to get where we are at the moment. Royal Lancaster London closed its doors during the first lockdown and re-opened in August 2020. Although we were unable to support individual business and leisure guests due to the lockdown restrictions, we were happy to accommodate those who needed us during this time. We also implemented a 50% NHS discount to support  our key workers.

From events point of view we quickly adjusted to the new normal. We were very lucky to host several Virtual/Hybrid events in line with the Government restrictions, which helped us not to lose momentum in the industry!

Will guests notice any new developments at the Royal Lancaster since the last White Hat Ball in January 2020?

Petya: We are constantly working on raising the bar at the hotel! During the first lockdown, all of our contracted events were cancelled and we took the chance to build a XR Mixed and Virtual Reality Studio in partnership with our in house AV provider – 4Wall. We became the first 5 Star hotel in Central London to be able to offer this high end equipment and supported several clients reaching to large audiences all over the world. On the way back to live events, we are working on permanently positioning our XR studio to the 19th floor!

How are you ensuring the safety of guests at the hotel in these unprecedented times?

Petya: The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority. We have reviewed and updated all our operational procedures to ensure the risk of infection is minimized. Some of the actions we have taken are – hand sanitizers are distributed all over the hotel, all team members are being tested twice a week and our temperature is checked on arrival. We are also taking the temperature of guests checking in. In order to reduce the touch points during  a stay with us we have become cashless hotel and each guest can use a digital key for their bedroom. We have ensured that we have plenty of PPE available and even more regular cleaning of our common guest areas.

William you have hosted the White Hat Ball for many years- what is your personal highlight of the event?

William: Meeting Esther Rantzen and also working with the amazing team at the NCPCC!

Thank you for speaking to us

Bookings are now open for the White Hat Ball 2022 on the 29th January at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, in aid of Childline.

Royal Lancaster Hotel facts

  • The hotel opened in 1967 and was initially called “Royal Lancaster”
  • The brand new “Royal Lancaster London” hotel crest features a stylized rose, the symbol of the House of Lancaster.
  • The hotel’s “Nine Kings Suite” is yet another nod at history, referring to the line of nine English kings that followed immediately after John of Gaunt, first Duke of Lancaster
  • The “Westbourne Suite” takes its name from what’s underneath the hotel… the small river Westbourne! Originating in Hampstead Heath, this brook used to flow into the Thames. It entered Hyde Park at what is now the Serpentine – which was formed in 1730 by building a dam across the Westbourne on the wishes of Queen Caroline, wife of George II, to beautify the royal park
  • The iconic mid-century tower was originally built as an office block to house the Rank Organisation- a huge British entertainment conglomerate of film-makers
  • The tower was designed by the famous architect Richard Seifert (1910 – 2001), who was extremely prolific during the 60s and 70s. No other architect is responsible for as many buildings in London (not even Sir Christopher Wren!).
  • The block was repurposed as in the 1960’s London had scarce hotel space that could not keep up with growing numbers of tourists. The UK Government therefore decided to award £1000 grants for every new hotel room built, and the rest is history

White Hat Ball 2022 – Bookings now open!

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The White Hat Ball Committee are delighted to invite you to the annual White Hat Ball, in aid of Childline, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, on 28 January 2022.

The White Hat Ball is the highlight of the Information Security and Risk industry event calendar and we are excited to be returning to a face-to-face event. The event offers the chance to have an incredible evening with industry colleagues, being entertained from start to finish, all in the name of a fantastic cause.

Find out more and book your tickets here!

White Hat’s One Unforgettable Day- stories from the front line

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This year White Hat’s One Unforgettable Day campaign raised £70,718 and successfully funded Childline for a whole day- 29 January 2021. Read on to hear about the life changing impact that Childline had during those 24 hours.

29 January 2021 is now a day that 650 children will never forget. It was a day where children were able to talk to us about whatever they needed to, where 41% talked to us about mental health, 10% about suicidal thoughts and feelings and 9% about family relationships. It was a day where 5, 488 young people viewed the Childline website Information and advice pages, with the most popular page being Your rights and there were 5, 144 Message Board pageviews. It was a day where children from all walks of life spoke up, where 76% were girls, 20% were boys, and 3% were Transgender, and where the majority were 12-15 year-olds.

For many children reaching out to Childline, 29 January 2021 became the day they found a listening ear, saw a way forward and took back control.

Our volunteers are the beating heart of what we do at the NSPCC, and we hope these first-hand experiences of Childline counsellors demonstrate the power of funding this vital service:

“I had a 1-to-1 chat with a 15 year-old girl was struggling with her mental health. She revealed this was mostly due to the excessive workloads that her teachers had set her since the latest lockdown. She complained this extra work had been eating into her free time and it had left her feeling stressed and panicked. The girl told me how she’d wanted to bring this up with her form tutor, but didn’t know how and they worried they wouldn’t be taken seriously. I reflected how well this girl had done to express themselves with Childline already, and suggested she might want to transfer some of these feelings in an email to her teacher. She agreed this was a good idea and so for the rest of the chat we began crafting a message together” A Childline counsellor

“I had a phone call with a 13 year-old girl, who was feeling anxious and upset about the pandemic. She told me she’d heard stories of rising Covid cases in the UK, and couldn’t help fearing for her loved ones’ safety, particularly her grandparents who she was missing very much. She hadn’t spoken out about her feelings, she told me, as she didn’t want anyone to worry about her. I praised the young person for speaking out to Childline and reminded her that she was not alone. Together, we explored the Calm Zone section on the Childline website and identified some things she could do to manage her anxious feelings, like breathing or distraction exercises – we even practiced one of these exercises on the call. Finally, I signposted the young person to our message boards, where other children and young people have been sharing their experiences of the pandemic. She agreed to take a look after our call and thanked me for my time”. A Childline counsellor

“I had a 1-to-1 chat with a 13 year-old girl who told me she was being bullied online by several girls from her school. She said these girls had added her to a group chat and made fun of her appearance – they’d called her ‘emo’, ‘weird’ and ‘depressed’. One of the girls even made a meme about her and posted it on social media. The girl revealed that they’d since managed to get the meme removed, but that it was too late –  the ‘damage had already been done’. She told me how the experience had left her feeling confused, humiliated and isolated, even more so now that schools were shut. Her biggest worry, she told me, was that the bullying might continue in person once schools re-opened. I reflected that no one deserved to be treated this way, and that they had done the right thing in speaking out about this. I asked her what it had felt like to share their story with Childline, and she said it ‘felt like someone cared for me and was interested in my life’. She said it had given her the courage to speak with her mentor during her next online session, and she agreed to come back and let us know how this goes” A Childline counsellor

The White Hat Ball 2022 hopes to raise even more money for Childline. The Ball will take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London on Friday 29th January 2022.

To find out more please email Robyn Stevenson at Robyn.Stevenson@NSPCC.org.uk

Rela8 Group supporting Childline

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Rela8 Group are delighted to have contributed towards White Hat’s Unforgettable Day campaign, which raised £70,000 for NSPCC Childline.

White Hat’s Unforgettable Day campaign raised an incredible £70,000, enough to fund Childline for over two days, taking the overall money raised for charity to over £2m since it’s foundation 17 years ago.

With the success of the campaign driven by many information security and risk professionals, White Hat Events managed to sit down with one of its sponsors, Paul Gibson, CEO & Founder of Rela8 Group, to understand why this charity is so close to his and his business’ heart.  

Question: Who are Rela8 Group? 

Rela8 Group is an industry leading events and business community that brings together CISOs, CIOs, CTOs and technology leaders to identify challenges, connect with key innovators and engage with one another to understand where their industry is going next. 

Question: Why help support NSPCC Childline?

When we heard about White Hat’s fundraising campaign for NSPCC Childline, it was a charity and event that we immediately felt compelled to sponsor. As a father of three myself and a family run business that has many staff with young families, children are incredibly close to all our hearts. 

Children are innocent victims of social circumstances and no child deserves lesser opportunities than any other. A charity such as the NSPCC that supports children; physically, mentally, and financially is one that is extremely important for Rela8 Group and one that we are looking forward to actively fundraising for going forward.

Question: Corporate Social Responsibility is key to the Rela8 Group DNA. How do you integrate CSR into the business and what more can companies do?

For many companies CSR seems to be an afterthought, but for us it is a pillar in our structure. We believe that it is vitally important to have a clear vision of what you are trying to impact in society and if aligned with your businesses core values, you can go a little way to impact things for the better. 

One initiative we started is our ‘Delegate Donation Campaign’. When our delegates sign up to our virtual roundtables, they are given the option of a £15/ $20 lunch voucher, or the opportunity to donate the same value to the NSPCC or another charity we support, Fosse Way School (a local school for underprivileged children). In 2020 alone, this generated £6,000 towards our chosen charities and with the exponential growth our business is experiencing, we estimate this contribution will grow to £10,000 by the end of 2021.

Another stream of content that we really look to push via our community is supporting and facilitating the next generation of business leaders, ensuring that every child has equal opportunities regardless of background in our sector.

Question: The last year has been a difficult year for many, what are you most looking forward to in 2021 and beyond?

As a business we can’t wait to meet with our community again in person (when it is safe to do so) and to continue to push for positive change together.

We are proud to be Patrons of this fantastic initiative through our events, summits, roundtables, and Technology Leaders Club, and we look forward to sharing the work of White Hat Events with our community to grow further awareness. We already have the White Hat Events 2022 charity ball in aid of the NSPCC penned into our diary and can’t wait to meet with the industry again, share a glass of wine and raise lots of money for this incredible cause!

For more information about Rela8 Group and the Technology Leaders Club visit www.rela8group.com / www.technologyleadersclub.com 

Thank you from the White Hat Chair

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Judging by large numbers of people reaching out to offer their thanks for the White Hat Unforgettable day, and of course the level of attendance in the evening. The cyber and risk community showed force to ensure vulnerable people in our society are not forgotten, despite the difficulties of our current society with COVID.

The community enjoyed an event which was made possible and powered by our generous headline sponsor, KPMG, supported by other sponsors Ezkenzi PR, Qualys, ISACA, Bridewell Consulting, and Rela8 Group.

Our evening was hosted by Graham Cole OBE, who did a masterful job as expected from a seasoned actor. Graham was supported by our very own ‘Cyber Clive’ aka Clive Room, who despite losing his trousers before the silent auction, somehow managed to recompose himself and facilitate a panel discussion with Chris Harper and Charlie Webster. Chris and Charlie, aided by Cyber Clive, recalled their powerful journeys of speaking out on child abuse, on television through Chris, and from personal experience by Charlie.

These stories were echoed in a powerful and very heart felt personal recollection by Nicole, our speaker, who managed her child abuse situation with grace and humility despite having to rebuild her life without the support from some members of her family.

The virtual room was moved by Nicole’s story.

Childline supports vulnerable people through the dedicated councillors working at Childline. To recognise and signal the importance and vital nature of the work performed by these amazing people, Dame Esther Rantzen presented an award the winner of the Childline counsellor award to Charlie Burton. Charlie not only works at Childline but also has a full-time job teaching year 5 students at a local school.

We must also mention some other people, Lilly O’Brien and Robyn Stevenson from NSPCC, who did a sterling job ushering White Hat Committee members through weekly calls, Molly and Imogen from Tap Simple, the amazing streaming platform, and our video editor Liz Hudson. I suspect Liz enjoyed the antics of Cyber Clive during the editing process.

Stephen Khan, White Hat Committee Chair

The committee and I are wholeheartedly grateful and touched will how the Cyber and Risk community rallied behind such an amazing cause during a time when many organisations are facing their own challenges. Examples of support include the amazing awareness campaigns driven by Infosec Europe, RANT, ISACA and Barclay Simpson to name a few, there were many others.

I personally hope many of you will join us at the January 2022 White Hat Ball, and thank you all once again for your generosity and kindness. 

The White Hat auction 2021 is LIVE!

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White Hat’s Unforgettable Day is a campaign that aims to raise £30,000, enough to fund Childline for one full day: the 29th January, when the original ball would have taken place. Join our campaign and support children by bidding on the exciting White Hat Silent Auction!

With over 40 fantastic prizes to choose from, treat yourself or a loved one to something special and bring some joy to their day. We have something for everyone, from Spanish villa holidays, rural staycations, exclusive dining experiences and designer accessories.

Some of our favourite prizes include:

All proceeds go to the White Hat One Unforgettable Day campaign to fund Childline for a whole day, helping the NSPCC to make 2021 a better year for children.

If you haven’t yet purchased tickets, we’d love you to join us at the first ever online White Hat on Friday 29th January! This event will bring together the Information Security sector, concluding in an hour of celebration and entertainment on 29th January from 7:30pm-8:30pm, for what would have been the sixteenth White Hat Ball. 

If you have any questions about the silent auction or the event please contact Robyn at robyn.stevenson@nspcc.org.uk

Childline at Christmas

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For many children and young people, Christmas is not a time of festivity and merriment, but a time where they are greater risk of abuse and neglect. Find out how you can make a difference this Christmas.

The facts

According to UK-wide police data, there were 23,529 concerns of adults neglecting, mistreating or assaulting children recorded in 2019/20 – an increase of 53% compared to 2016/17, and more than double the total in 2013/14.

Out of these, 5,476 were recorded in the first three months of the spring lockdown with increased vulnerability, challenges of safeguarding remotely and wider pressures on families playing a role. We know that during the spring lockdown, an average of 50 children a day turned to Childline after suffering abuse, with counselling sessions about this issue increasing by 22% compared with pre-lockdown levels.

We’re sharing these findings to warn that children may be at a risk of abuse this Christmas and that everyone needs to play their part in keeping them safe.

NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said:

“The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children. They also provide a heart-breaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic. 

This year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support. Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard.”

 How you can help children this Christmas

Purchase your ticket for the fun-filled White Hat Unforgettable Day virtual event taking place on 29th January 2021. All money raised will go towards funding Childline for a whole day.

If your company has saved money by not hosting a Christmas Party this year, why not make a donation to Childline instead? Donations can be made on our White Hat Just Giving page.

Qualys Blog: White Hat’s Unforgettable Day

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The White Hat Committee are delighted to once again welcome Qualys onboard as an official White Hat sponsor for 2021. Although this year has seen many changes to the usual Ball, Qualys has continued to stand by White Hat and Childline in our fight to be there for every child.

Qualys has supported White Hat for over a decade, and since 2013 has donated an incredible £50,000 to Childline, allowing us to answer 12,500 calls from children who desperately need our help. Much has changed since Qualys first began supporting the White Hat Ball; it has grown in size to almost 650 guests, now welcomes a huge numbers of industry leaders each year, has moved to the spectacular Royal Lancaster Hotel and has seen over 10 committee chairs come and go, each leaving their own unique stamp on the event.

We spoke to Anne Lenoir, Corp. Communications & Events Director, at Qualys, to find out what motivates them to continue sponsoring White Hat and Childline.

The White Hat Ball is an unmissable and spectacular industry event and we are proud to have supported, attended and sponsored it for over 10 years. The Ball has developed and changed, never more so than this year, but its message and reason remain the same ‘to have fun and raise money for a vital cause’! We are proud to sponsor this event and all of the incredible, life-changing work, that Childline does. This year has been particularly hard for children across the UK, with many of them trapped at home, lonely and isolated, and here at Qualys we are honoured to be able to do our bit in ensuring these children have a safe place to turn and someone to talk to. The NSPCC and Childline also do fantastic work for child online safety, a cause close to many of our hearts in this industry, and to have this opportunity to lead the sector is supporting this cause is a privilege.

As a team, we have many fond and fun memories of attending the White Hat Ball over the years and although this year will be slightly different, with a virtual White Hat event, we are excited for the industry to come together once again in the spirit of White Hat!

To find out more about Qualys, visit www.qualys.com.

White Hat’s Unforgettable Day

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After another successful White Hat Ball (WHB) in January of this year, there was much to celebrate, not only did the Cyber Security Industry leadership make a stance for the support of vulnerable children by raising £195,000 for NSPCC Childline but also demonstrated how our industry can come together to have fun in the process.

Sadly, that celebration was short lived as those same vulnerable children were/are stuck in homes, sometimes with their abusers as COVID took hold of our society.

The White Hat Ball committee, made up of senior leadership across our Cyber Security industry, were acutely aware of the impact from COVID on their own organisations, their teams, and society at large, including the possible difficulties on raising chartable funds for all good causes such as the White Hat Ball. The committee mobilised our efforts towards forward planning, working with our sponsors, NSPCC Childline, and our venue, The Royal Lancaster Hotel.  Despite the challenges the hospitality industry was facing, the Lancaster management were incredibly supportive of our situation, and worked with the WHB committee to ease any impact and to explore more options.

Throughout June, July and August, WHB supporters, sponsors, and committee continued with ticket sales and seeking prizes, knowing that the format & size of the 2021 WHB would be different, should the ball be possible. During this time, NSPCC, and WHB committee, like many businesses in the UK and across the global, produced contingency planning approaches, performed cost benefit analysis, and sought to ensure the safety of our guests & employees.

Despite the dedication to find the best option, with meetings running into the evenings, and good progress being made with sincere commitment from guests and our sponsors. On the 7th of October, after consultation with NSPCC leadership, The Royal Lancaster Hotel, the White Hat Ball committee made the decision to hold an alternative online event, accompanied by a fundraising campaign, and sadly not the traditional White Hat Ball, which is usually attended by over 650+ guests.

To maintain our support for vulnerable children in our society especially at this time, the White Hat Ball will be launching our “White Hat Unforgettable day” campaign that will begin in November, run throughout December and January and conclude in a very special virtual celebration evening on the 29th of January 2021.

White Hat’s Unforgettable Day is a campaign that aims to raise £30,000, enough to fund Childline for one full day, the 29th January, when the original ball would have taken place. This ambitious and exciting campaign will bring together the Information Security community, concluding in an evening of celebration and entertainment on 29th January, for what would have been the sixteenth White Hat Ball.

Join the White Hat Committee and industry leaders in supporting this unforgettable day of Childline, by donating what you can here. Additionally, we also want you to help us spread the message to our community at large, encouraging companies and individuals to participate in online events, share the news of the day, and send a robust message to those vulnerable children, that have not been forgotten through fundraising.

Stephen Khan, White Hat Committee Chairperson

Still Here for Children

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The NSPCC are still here for children- here’s how they’ve been adapting during the pandemic

1With schools closed for long periods and many children trapped in unsafe homes, lockdown has been particularly challenging for children. The NSPCC have responded rapidly, launching the Still Here for Children emergency appeal to raise awareness and funds for Childline, as well as adapting their frontline services to help as many children as possible during the pandemic. Thousands of children have reached out to Childline during the pandemic. The adaptions we’ve made to delivery mean that we haven’t seen a dip in our response rates, and have been able to hold around 60,000 counselling sessions since lockdown began.

However, we have seen a worrying change in the nature of concerns and the age of children we have supported – with over half of all conversations related to mental and emotional health, including more children under 11 contacting us on this subject.

A socially distanced Childline
CLFunds raised by the Still Here for Children campaign have been used to equip Childline volunteer counsellors to answer calls remotely by purchasing headsets and laptops, as well as recruiting new volunteers and re-training volunteers from other NSPCC frontline services.

One recent call to Childline from an 18-year-old girl highlights the importance of the service during the pandemic:

“I am scared about the Coronavirus. I’m finding it hard to cope at the moment and it feels like it’s the end of the world. When I was little I developed OCD and had been to therapy which has helped me to deal with the stress better. However, the Coronavirus has triggered it again and I’m really struggling, I don’t know what to do. Please help.”

Click here to listen to volunteer counsellor Rachel’s experience of answering urgent calls to Childline during lockdown.

Speak Out Stay Safe with Ant and Dec
a and dWith social distancing in place, the NSPCC’s Speak out Stay Safe programme of school assemblies has been on hold since March. As some schools begin to return, on Friday 5th June Ant and Dec and David Walliams helped to deliver a very special virtual school assembly with Buddy the mascot! The assembly was streamed online to schools across the country and encouraged children to Speak out and Stay Safe by speaking to a trusted adult or Childline about problems and anxieties they may be experiencing.

Get involved!
Support the NSPCC during the biggest challenge we have faced. Make a donation to the Still Here for Children campaign, or join us at our star studded White Hat Ball gala in January 2021.

Contact Lilly.OBrien@NSPCC.org.uk for more information.