My choices in work and life have always been people orientated and value-led. After an initial career in law I’ve gradually swam further upstream.
I chose a career in public law to further social justice and improve lives, ensuring the most vulnerable in our communities had access to the support and services they need and holding our public institutions and state to account. After 15 years I left a system that appeared broken, public services on their knees; an inaccessible, adversarial legal system; a widespread culture of ‘fixing’ by ‘doing to’ people through the exercise of ‘power over’ people; and wasted potential. I wanted to better understand the system and to add more tools to my pannier so I started reading about systems thinking, power, leadership and how we design in the changes we want to see for greater wellbeing, happiness and co-action. I retrained as a coach, facilitator and delivered training in person-centred and community-centred practice and wellbeing at work.
I’d also moved back to the area I grew up in Manchester and become very involved as an active volunteer in local schools, community groups and sports clubs. Including setting up a walking school bus, co-founding a small co-op, qualifying as a cycling instructor and ride leader and establishing a community bike project, Whalley Range on Wheels. This led to employment with Cycling UK and TfGM developing a wonderful array of community bike projects across Greater Manchester and to founding the BikeHive in Alexandra Park, Whalley Range. My bike became my main means of transport and headspace. I experienced the power that bikes and parks have as tools and spaces for bringing different people together and supporting the five ways to wellbeing (connect, give, take notice, learn, be active). I then co-founded Happen Together CIC.
At Happen we take a person-centred, and community-centred approach to working with people, networks and organisations and movements for change. We enjoy working across all sectors and bringing people together to power up connections, relationships and collective action across perceived boundaries – be they geographical, hierarchical, sector silos, political camps or different communities of interest. We believe change happens when we create conducive space for people to work well and to ‘be the change’- individually, collectively and systemically. Our model for achieving this aligns with the GM Moving model for population level change.
Being a woman in elected office in Manchester and co-leading the DivaManc & GM4Women movements in Greater Manchester has provided further insight and understanding of the strengths and opportunities for whole system change in GM and the challenges and blockages that need to be overcome for GM Moving ambitions to be fully realised. I can help unlock the potential within this space to make GM Moving everyone’s business and ensure it is embedded across all agendas. This post is the opportunity to be the catalyst and agent for change I seek to be, creating conditions for people, networks, movements to grow and flourish.
It’s a timely opportunity for me to play a part in turbo charging the #devodifference in Greater Manchester and in leading the way for a different way of working and delivering together, with partners near and far. To promote active lives, active neighbourhoods, increased population health, and happier, more connected, resilient and sustainable city region. What’s not to love?!
I had butterflies in my stomach when I saw the job advertised because I saw it as:
- A chance to focus on a mission that matters whilst being fully attentive to the journey.
- A meaningful way to apply my experience, knowledge, skills, qualities and energy in a leadership role to implement and deliver a values-led strategy to support more people to move, more often, in Greater Manchester and ultimately to improve, and possibly save, lives.
- A space to root myself within a team and organisation where I can think, be, collaborate, learn and lead at my best and where I can actively support the people around me to meet their full potential.
I’ve been repeatedly drawn to the work of GreaterSport and GM Moving over the last three-four years and have enjoyed a number of opportunities to work with the charity and its people and to be a part of the growing GM Moving movement. I’ve loved being a part of GM Moving conversations on and off-line and a self appointed advocate for the movement. Every interaction has drawn me further in:
- Design and delivery of a GMMoving funded ‘PushPedalScoot’ pilot in schools and parks to help get more under 5s riding a bike, as project lead on behalf of BikeRightCIC
- Co-design and facilitation of a Local Pilot Network event.
- Co-design and facilitation of a Local Pilot Partner Engagement event
- Co-leading with Hayley Lever on a GM Great Get Together event.
- Delivering 1:1 coaching for a number of Greater Sport staff.
- Being a preferred provider organisation for delivering workforce development and a part of the dialogue around future system workforce development.
- Facilitating conversations around ways for sharing what we think, feel, do ‘out loud’ e.g blogging.
My ambitions when offered the role
- To actively seek and listen to a wide range of perspectives on what’s working and not working and what needs to happen next.
- To build from existing strengths in the system, further multiplying, magnifying and amplifying them as catalysts for change.