Talking Point

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas: Community

Today’s blog is by me, after eleven days of guest blogs, I want to take the opportunity to round off the twelve days of Christmas by talking about community.

Community can describe a locality of people, or of similar mind; in my experience it can and should also be a group of people with a common desire, but different views, opinions and experiences.

I have had the privilege to chair many groups and committees, some in my paid employment and some in my volunteering life. All of our contributors over the last eleven days have reflected on their paid and their unpaid lives, in different ways.

It seems to me in 2018 there has never been a more important time to get involved in a community; one you already know, or one you don’t.

Get out there, the change you want to be and see how you can make a difference.

I run with a fabulous community of women, join us (we are expanding in 2018, so if you fancy a This Mum Runs group in your area, get in touch).

I belong to a great community of professionals through the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and through the Institute of Directors.

I help organise our local community, for Playing Out.

If you do not know where to start, may I suggest education. The single most important factor in anyone’s future. Call your local council and ask how you can volunteer to be a school governor; the training will be good, the support readymade and the outcome, priceless. Believe me you will never ever regret it.

If you’ve done that, or you’re a teacher and the last thing you want is to return to a school in the evening, then think of your favourite charity and look for a trusteeship.

And if you have done that, then get onto the Cabinet Office website and look for a public appointment. Be conscious of Nolan’s Principles of Public Life; read the Cabinet Office Diversity Strategy and go for it.

When I joined the HSE board almost three years ago, it was a big cultural step for me. I had a lot of board level of experience, knowledge and skills in governance, reputation management, I could read a P and L sheet and I knew I could hold my own in the boardroom; the recruitment process had been rigorous and I had been appointed by the Secretary of State. But there was no one in the room who looked like me. I was younger by a country mile and I was the only NED appointed, who then needed to delay her start due to maternity leave.

It’s changed now, we have one non-white executive colleague, a good gender balance (this was always the case) and more non-executive colleagues who work full time.

I have never regretted taking on such a culture challenge, please in 2018 take all your courage, compassion in your own hands. Step out there and do it.

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