Participant Story: Geraldine Telford, Dunmurry - Seymour Hill – Milltown Colin TLP 2, Spring 2021

6 Aug 2021 Mary McCaughey    Last updated: 6 Aug 2021

Geraldine is a volunteer with Falls Community Council.

She completed the TLP in July 2021 alongside participants from Upper Springfield Development Trust, Springfield Charitable Association, NIHE, Ulster Wildlife and and USEL.

“The Transformative Leadership Programme is informative, relevant and transformative. TLP is too important a tool to just keep it at interfaces”

Introduction and Motivation

What motivated you to do the course?

My name is Geraldine Telford. I became aware of the Transformative Leadership Programme through my voluntary work with Falls Community Council; helping with the organisation of cross community events i.e. talks and discussions around contentious issues. My background is in community work and community education in particular. I decided to do the TLP course because of the positive feedback but also because I felt a bit brain dead and I thought that doing a course would get the old grey cells going again. It was also about just trying to get my head around working again. 

Experience and Learning

Which aspects of the course content stood out for you?

Collaborative Working: sometimes when you are watching the news and everything is building up again you think but how do we change that? I don’t know about you but my notion of collaboration was not good. To me collaboration was a bad thing.  But the FCC facilitators who were delivering the course and the people who I was learning with shared their positive relevant experiences and case studies e.g.: the Broadway model, all of which made the difference to me because suddenly it became real.

What did you like about the experience of doing the course?

It was a bit strange for me to take a course via Zoom. I was a bit apprehensive about it but excited at the same time. The TLP Online course provided an opportunity for me to interact with people outside my own area. The breakout rooms were great. Before the course I had been thinking: How is this going to work?  There were some issues with individuals freezing at the start. I knew we would have to do some group work and was thinking how is this going to work so that everyone has a chance to talk and put their ideas forward. The breakout rooms allow us to actually do that and I got to know everybody eventually through the small group work sessions.


What difference did it make to you and your area?

We all were constrained during the pandemic. I became more aware and focused on the need for community organisations, youth and sporting and community groups to be more cohesive and collaborative to even exit or to even get through the pandemic. I’m from Ormeau Road which is more of a mixed area than an interface, but the same issues arise. At this particular time of the year flags are a big issue. I had been involved in a group that was involved at looking at establishing a protocol around flags and how the protocol was being adapted/working.

When you can see a thing working, for me this was transformative leadership in action. This is actually how to do it. It really made an impact. I am very interested in the idea of collaborative working. The Transformative Leadership Programme is focused on communities living at the interface. I don’t think our fault line which is deemed to be between the two communities is just for people living at the interface. I think it affects everyone in Belfast. It is also N. Ireland wide. So, I think that you need to bring this collaborative work into mixed areas and even single identity communities.

It’s not just about being there but being actively involved. By bringing ideas to the table and discussing them. TLP did ignite a spark in me again.

I am very glad that I got involved with the course. Part of me was quite nervous about it, because it had been quite a while since I did a course or anything and also because it was being delivered through Zoom.


Further thoughts on TLP?

TLP is too important a tool to just keep it at interfaces. There are now many new communities. Is there some way that TLP could be delivered across the region?  We keep focus on the “two communities” but I think TLP relevance has a bigger reach than that.'s picture
by Mary McCaughey

Programme Support Officer (TLP)

[email protected]

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