TLP Participant Story – Conor Maskey, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021
He completed the TLP in North Belfast in February 2021 with participants from the Bytes Project, Start 360, PSNI, Lower Oldpark Community Association, Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne, Belfast City Council, the Green Party, Sinn Fein, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Pintsized Productions, Cavehill Community Choir and local residents. Conor shares his TLP story here.
“Whether you’re a public representative or a political activist, this course is extremely beneficial because of the networking opportunities and learning opportunities it gives. It enhances your ability to show leadership in the political sphere and to bring that learning back to whatever party you’re in and to progress your agenda”.
Introduction and Motivation
- What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?
The leadership element of it – you can’t stop learning. But more importantly, it was clear that this was a real networking opportunity across Belfast. I also heard from another participant about the networking element – it made a difference that it was attended by council officers and people on the ground from the local community.
Experience and Learning
- What topics stood out for you?
For me the Visioning aspect stood out best – the group dynamic in that session was really good. It brought it home that it’s so hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. I also liked the session on Leadership Styles – focusing on your own style and also to learn that all of the styles work in different situations, and when to apply them and when not to. And I enjoyed the session on power dynamics.
- What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?
For me it’s the social inclusion part – the importance of bottom-up development. I’m currently supporting a new residents’ group, and I feel I can help them to look at their own capacity, work with them on how to communicate, who they are communicating with, the pitfalls they might face – the programme has taught me a lot about that. It was great for the residents’ association that a council officer attended the course and they can now connect with him – connecting with the council is really important for them at the moment.
- Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?
It’s more that it has consolidated things. I have experience and contacts, but you can get into a bubble whether in the political world or the community development world so it was really good that participants were from different sectors and streams – the way that the course was set up enabled me to network more and grounded me a bit more.
- Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?
Yes, there are a couple of contacts from the course who I have stayed in touch with that I wouldn’t have been in touch with before. There was learning from the course but the real added value is in the networking.
- What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?
There had been ideas going around as to how to really lift the Waterworks in North Belfast. Could we develop a nature trail, outdoor entertainment, a Market or any other ideas. When this was discussed with participants there was a real appetite. Discussing this among the group garnered more confidence in those ideas. Now there’s a willingness from participants in our group to get behind Waterworks initiatives.
- What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?
It will make a difference because if you look at the networking that happened in our group and multiply that by say 14-15 courses in North Belfast, all networking and working on projects of benefit for North Belfast, it’s not difficult to see that with that level of connection, therein lies the impact. If I take our group as an example, there will be a legacy even after the programme, across the board.
- Are there any things you’d get further involved in?
Yes, we’re still working on our group project and we’ll keep going with that in addition to ideas around the Waterworks.
- To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course?
Without the course I would only have made some of the contacts by luck – so the course has enabled and expedited the connections with people that I wouldn’t have met before and would still be in contact. And it has led to a warming of relations with other participants on the course, including political sector, which I’m delighted about.
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