100 days ago I left Plymouth City Council after 12 happy years and became …well to be honest I didn’t quite know what I was becoming… but I knew that something good would come from me and Wendy doing some of the things local people had been asking us to do for a while.
So I had this vision of working in my pyjamas, being super organised and being totally in control of my time. Instead I’ve swapped the heels for a woolly hat as we work through the coldest months with zero heating in empty buildings, all sorts happening every week and treading a tricky balance between lining things up to drive Nudge forward and day to day community led activity at Union Corner and the Clipper.
Life outside of an organisation like the Council has its challenges – everything from not having a working printer (not that they always worked but you know…) to suddenly not having easy ways to know what’s happening and ask for advice, getting used to being everything from HR to finance, and having no line manager supporting you to stay on track – we reassure each other ‘we’re doing OK aren’t we?!’
Strangely the hardest thing to remember is that there are no rules – we have had to remind ourselves several times as we establish our own culture – there are no rules, we don’t have to do it like that, we can do it the Nudge way – what could that be?
These are some of the other things that I’ve been noticing since leaving…
What is best value?
There was a time when this was the big phrase at the Council. I can honestly say that I have never questioned this so much than over the past 100 days. Deciding what you should get paid and thinking whether you really are worth it every minute, every day. Whether or when you should take a wage rather than make something extra happen quicker is a tricky call.
Communities are 24/7 I always knew this and spent many an evening and weekend with communities whilst working at the Council. This is different – this is in your mind and in your heart 24/7. Mixed up with wanting to do everything you can to be good value, makes our adventure feel more like a lifestyle than a job – no 9-5pm going on here!
Rediscovering my opinion
I was lucky enough to be able to be creative and experimental in the Council, and I felt proud to work for a democratically led organisation. Plymouth goes from Labour to Conservative every few years, so changing political leadership is the norm. Over the years I got used to watching how I talked about things, even socially. Now I can say whatever I want…and for some reason I am finding this really hard! I thought it would feel freeing, but actually it’s quite tricky to find your own voice again after being so used to representing a large organisation. I need to get better at championing our needs for Nudge and our community. This is definitely work in progress…
Big is important but small is super special
At the Council you are in the middle of the big complex problems that go with supporting a city population and infrastructure. Now I’m in the middle of doing something small but significant in my local community. We are questioning how the little things can add up to deliver that vision in more creative and inclusive ways. There is not a lot of head space for the Council to be thinking like that and doing all those little things after years of cuts.
I know they want it to happen – so there is space for people to step up and do stuff in our communities (let’s do this!). As communities do step up, it would be great if the Council recognise and value things happening in communities that deliver the wider vision for the city – alongside the big investments.
A diet of goodness
So the best anti-ageing recipe seems to be connecting with your community! I have never had so many people say I look younger and I think it’s because pretty much every day the chats, the laughs and being around people who are doing amazing things fills you up with goodness. It has been a complete honour to spend time, real time, with people in our community that have the biggest things going on in their life and still have time for others. I’ve never felt more connected in my community and completely get how this helps your mental health. So making opportunities for others to experience that is definitely at the heart of what we are doing.
Phew my first blog 🙂
Hannah (Founder and Co-Director)
Why not pop in to the Clipper from 9 – 12pm on Wednesday and Fridays for a little bit of goodness and help us give the space a nudge. Next Wednesday we are starting a mosaic on the bar – all welcome.
Or join us at Union Corner for free yummy vegan soup on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 12-2pm.