The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story Lesley Doherty, North Belfast Resident Limestone Road TLP Spring 2020

Lesley Doherty who runs her own tour guide business in the North Belfast area shares her TLP story here.

As well as running her own business, Lesley is involved in local community and voluntary activities for example with Storehouse which is a charity hub which provides a range of support for the community including a foodbank, as well as activities and classes for local people. She did her TLP course in the Limestone Road in Spring 2020 – the course managed to finish before lockdown! For Lesley, the course was something that she could easily not have done – and now is glad that she did:

“I feel more positivity now about interfaces – I think I felt in a rut about them before –this has given me more hope.”



What motivated you to sign up?

I signed up as I was interested in the idea of peacebuilding in interface areas, as I  drove up and down Limestone Road every day, and was familiar with the Peace Walls thanks to my work as a tour guide around these areas.

Experience and Learning

Which topics stood out for you?

Leadership Styles: This stood out as I hadn’t thought of there being different leadership styles which could be learned.

Barriers to Transformation: I found it useful to be aware that there will always be barriers to change, and that there will always be a mix of positive and negative that you have to work with.

Social Innovation: This was great – it brought it down more to local level, and the idea of working with other people. It made it more realistic to know that we’d be planning a project.

It was good to get the speakers in from local organisations (Duncairn Community Partnership, Duncairn Community Health Partnership and Belfast City Council). It was good to get feedback from the speaker from Duncairn Community Health Partnership that our social innovation project idea was good and that we could really make a difference.

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

For Lesley, the course meant she would take a different approach in future: “I do work with peers a lot but tend to be more reluctant to lead. But with my voluntary work with Storehouse for example, I would now be more inclined to step up and contribute ideas – and to know that it’s OK to use your strengths, step forward, have ideas and express them. Also, for me, I’ve realised that you need to plan and work through things step by step – I am ideas person, but you need to work through that to the practical implementation stage too”.

What difference has it made?

Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?

I’d be more inclined to lead a group of peers – I’d be more confident to do that now, and to contribute more to a planning team and to leadership. I learned a lot about my community and about myself.

Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?

Yes – in the local area I’d feel more able to contact the Ashton Centre which I might have been less inclined to go to before. Ashton have a list of local services, and even this week, in the current Coronavirus crisis, when I was trying to identify sources of help for people, I looked at Ashton, Newington Housing Association and Duncairn Community Partnership. It was great to have Ciaran Shannon from the partnership to talk to us – the timing was important as the wall at Duncairn had just been lowered. It was lovely to see the faces behind making progress and how much work they have put into it and how long it took.

I’m interested to find out even more about how Council works – it was great that the Belfast City Council Manager for North Belfast came in to talk to the group, and I’d  like to engage more with them and be more aware of what the Council is doing. It’s also clear that North Belfast still needs some kind of connecting organisation as provision – especially at a time like this – can be disjointed and inconsistent across areas.

What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

I think that the course has already given me the desire to be more aware of what’s going on in the area. I now make a point of looking at Ashton, North Belfast News, North Belfast Facebook etc. It has made me engage more and I feel it’s easier to get a sense of who’s doing what. In the current crisis, I’ve already let my own organisation – who are planning to meet various local needs – know about the importance of finding out what’s already going on and complementing it.

What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?

It’s easier to lift the phone to people now. For example, Israel who was on the course is dealing with Asylum seekers – I’m also dealing with Asylum seekers through Storehouse so we’ve already been connecting. A teacher who was on the course is already engaging with Newington Housing Association.

For me the leadership aspect was central – if I’d really thought about it being a leadership course I might not have done it, but I loved that it developed personal skills in this area. I feel more positivity now about interfaces – I think I felt in a rut about them before – this has given more hope.  The course will have a positive effect on interfaces, especially if over 900 people do it! It also helped to know that others are prepared to invest in your community – it gives you hope.

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