The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - Zoe Ferguson Crumlin Road Ardoyne Glenbryn TLP Spring 2020

Zoe Ferguson is Treasurer of Cliftonville Integrated Primary School PTFA. Here she shares her TLP story.

She did her TLP course in the Crumlin Road / Ardoyne / Glenbryn Area in Spring 2020 – the course had only completed 2 days before the COVID lockdown kicked in. After a short interruption, the course was completed online. The group has now planned a joint project together and have created a What’s App group to keep in touch.

“It was well worth taking part and I would definitely advise others to take part.”



What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I hadn’t known about this programme until our outgoing Chair told me about it. She sent me a link and when I read the information I thought I’d like to do it, because we are a new group (only going 2 years) and I thought it could help us.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course – especially since it was interrupted by lockdown and had to be completed online?

Starting the course face to face was great, but due to the Covid-19 situation everything was put on hold. When we were told by NICVA on our last day of face-to-face training before lockdown that you wouldn’t leave us hanging and we’d find a way to complete the course, I really felt we would never get the chance as the circumstances were so bad. But very soon after everything was up and running again all online - at the start I wasn’t sure how it would work. When it was offered online, I had to step out of my comfort zone – it was daunting. But now, I’m really glad that we had the chance to do it that way and it helped that it was a lovely group. It was so easy to speak to each other and we gave advice to each other. Using Zoom we finished the course - it was great to get back and involved with others again. Using the breakout rooms worked great and hearing different views from others also. Guest speakers also joined us and we didn’t miss out. It was well worth taking part and I would definitely advise others to take part.

What topics stood out for you?

The session on ‘Addressing Barriers to Transformation' really stood out for me. I used it to think about our own group, the barriers we need to address and how to approach things differently. I also liked the session on 'Leadership in Action' where we had speakers from other local organisations – it was really good to hear from others who weren’t part of our training group. I’d sum it up this way – it was a learning approach to look at things in a different way rather than just assuming “this is how it’s done”.

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

I will definitely look at ways to avoid and address barriers when we get back together again. And I’ll also use the idea of letting people use their voice – making sure that people participate more in the group.

What difference has it made?

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

Yes, I’d be more confident to encourage others to step forward and get more involved. The course has made a difference. When I get back around the table with my group I will use what I’ve learned and will push in the direction of the things I learned on the course. I took on the role of Treasurer of the PTFA and still feel happy to keep doing that. I liked how during the course there was advice from others about how to deal with things and other ways around obstacles that I hadn’t thought of. I will definitely use that.

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

Because we’re so new, we feel we can approach anyone. After our Project Development Workshop, I was able to go to the school Principal and put the project idea to him confidently. I will make sure we keep the connections I’ve made in the course, including with the Council, because this could open other doors.

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

I feel that right now I’m involved in the right thing for me. I was keen for my children to have an integrated school experience and not to differentiate between children from different backgrounds, whether Catholic or Protestant or from other backgrounds, and to understand that everyone is equal. But I would jump at other opportunities if they arise and I feel I can contribute.

Our Transform for Change project will make a difference. Our idea is for a Community Garden, with an emphasis on creating a cross-community active space where people can get involved in activities. We want to get people from all religions and all backgrounds to get involved. Our course group has set up a What’s App Group and we’re already exchanging ideas about what we could do next – for example one of the group suggested that we have a speaker talk to us about accessibility in relation to the garden.

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

It will make a difference because, if our project goes ahead and is as good as we believe it can be, it will give other people a push they need to make a difference and take things on themselves.

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