Who are you, what do you do and why did your organisation get involved with Renew?
I have 30 yrs experience training and supporting voluntary & community sector groups, with a parallel career in public speaking and storytelling.
After 5 yrs volunteering in conservation & for Greenpeace, FoE, WWF & others, I worked as a project manager, trainer & development worker in the voluntary sector, supporting local charities/groups involving a diverse range of service-users (eg. domestic abuse survivors, mental health & disability groups, people in recovery. I supported ‘green’ projects nationally through the Environmental Trainers Network, training on generic areas such as public speaking, leadership, chairing meetings, recruiting volunteers & designing effective publicity. As well as project planning/delivery, I specialise in helping groups set up outcomes-monitoring. I also specialise in communication skills, and am passionate about the role that dynamic, from-the-heart public speaking can play in motivating people to take action to bring about change. I first got involved with Transition Bro Gwaun as a storyteller, developing stories on green issues, to promote the sustainability agenda. We worked together on green storytelling events & currently on using performance storytelling to highlight climate change & extinction. Transition introduced me to the RENEW so I could lend my skills to groups wishing to take action on climate change.
Why are you drawn to this area of work?
I think my range of experience of working with diverse groups, and my specific areas of specialism, could be of use to groups starting new initiatives and I’m keen to support ‘the green agenda’, giving the urgency of climate change and the need to effect change across the whole community, not just those already involved in environmental action. I think my specialism in communication skills could be valuable, as there is a need to persuade & influence people, to involve a broad range of people. Skilled public speaking and understanding the different motivations of volunteers plays a crucial role, along with understanding how to work in an inclusive way, valuing every contribution and building self-esteem in individuals, empowering them to take become more active.
For 15 years my role was specifically supporting local charities/community groups, from securing funding & planning projects, recruiting & managing volunteers through to outcomes monitoring & reporting. I was an ‘Outcomes Champion’ (Charities Evaluation Service) & supported groups to capture evidence for funders. As well as helping groups recruit hundreds of volunteers, I also specialised in communication skills and transformed the public speaking skills of workers tasked with getting the message of their charity across.
What is your vision of your region in 2050?
I see more and more people making their concern for the planet heard, putting sustainability onto ‘the mainstream agenda’, putting pressure on businesses/politicians to take action. At the same time change is coming, and has to come, from the ‘bottom up’ – there are so many projects making a difference at a local level- these need to spread like wildflowers, so RENEW’s initiative is critical to share expertise/lessons learned, to maximise funding, inspire communities to act, replicate projects & spark new ones. If these successful win:win projects for the whole community are shared, actions will snowball into a critical mass.