I wasn’t actively looking for developmental opportunities when someone told me about the chance to work with young people and help inspire them. I didn’t know anything about Civil Service Local, and I wasn’t sure what the project was all about, but after talking to the project manager I decided it sounded interesting and put my name forward.
I still didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the planning meeting and met the team for the first time. We devised a programme that was fun and had key learning points for the students, keeping in mind the aim of engaging and inspiring them to achieve. When we met the students for the first time I think we were more nervous than they were!
The six week programme was full of ups and downs, and we probably learned as much as the students, but it was successful and we were sorry to say goodbye to them at the end. The experience made me face new challenges and gave me the confidence to present to more than 300 staff at an away day.
I found I’d been bitten by the development bug, so I volunteered to take part in another CS Local project, Going Forward, which works with offenders to help them to get jobs after release. We (myself and the rest of the cross-government team) had to work under strict restrictions while in the prison: we couldn’t use any electrical equipment, which meant no laptops or even mobile phones. This posed a real challenge when we realised that the first session wouldn’t hold the attention of the offenders or meet their needs, so we had to think on our feet to restructure the session without being able to use any technology. I felt a real sense of achievement at the end of the project, and I was pleased to find out that one of the offenders had started an accountancy course thanks to the confidence and self-belief he had gained.
Before I became involved with Civil Service Local, I hadn’t been looking to change direction in my career. However, I thought the projects were a fantastic way to deliver services to our citizens differently and to serve them better. In fact, I loved the work so much that I asked for a chance to work with CS Local on a more permanent basis, and I was offered a secondment.
Working full time for the team is about creativity and innovation in a fast-moving environment; there is no script to follow, and as a long-time project manager used to following processes, it took some time for me to get used to a different culture.
I have now been on the team for a year, working on both people development strands (apprenticeships, the Academy,) and citizen programmes (Inspiring Young People), as well as attending discovery sessions and managing communications.
Each day I find that I am learning something new, building on my strengths and improving my weaknesses. Meeting new colleagues from different departments has enabled me to build my capacity by learning about their priorities and how Civil Service Local feeds into their business plans.
My main aim is to give our staff a range of opportunities to develop themselves and ensure that they grow. And as for me, every day I find that I just love coming into work with a smile on my face.