I have been known to grumble about the state of the world. Politics fascinates and depresses me. I joined a political party once and youngest was horrified that I might stand for election and embarrass her by being displayed on lampposts. That’s not for me. Political parties are broad churches and each has policies I couldn’t support. And I couldn’t cope with the lamppost thing.
I’ve had a chronic illness and been unemployed for 14 years. I spent a while on the sofa watching The West Wing (still a delight). I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do some volunteering over the years. I was a meeter- greeter/ signpost at the Cancer Centre. I posted information packs for a small charity. I told the story of my mother’s rare disease. I helped found a charity. I told other stories and organised conferences. I chatted to patients, carers , policy makers and Ministers. I wrote funding applications. The charity employed staff to deliver something new for Northern Ireland.
And then I ran out of steam. The well ran dry. I resigned from my voluntary role and went back to sleep. I Marie Kondo’d 2 cupboards. I licked my wounds and went to the seaside. I hoped I would recover a bit, and wondered what I might do next.
Why not apply for this?, said the Nudger in Chief.
I can’t do that. My brain doesn’t work. I need to sleep some more.
It doesn’t start yet. By September you’ll be getting bored, so fill in the form.
No, I can’t do that. I’d have to think.
You can do it.
I submitted the form at the last minute, convinced it would come to nothing. It turns out that Boardroom Apprentice is the best thing I could have done.
The programme provides group learning, team work, and practical experience for a year with a board. Simply meeting people doing the role is a great way to demystify who a board is for. And there’s more: support from experts to learn more about governance, communication, questioning, numbers, partnerships; opportunities to participate in events on local government and cyber security (who’d have thunk?); chatting to senior civil servants in a queue; learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
I’ll never be a politician, but there are many ways to make a difference. My confidence continues to wobble and I’m lucky to have people to tell me to wise up.
Decisions are made by those who turn up. What’s stopping you? Apply now. You can do it.