TLP Participant Story: Julie Carson, TEO, North Belfast, Spring 2021

16 Jun 2021 Mary McCaughey    Last updated: 17 Jun 2021

Julie works for The Executive Office (TEO) and completed the TLP course in North Belfast in April – May 2021.

This course included participants from Newington Residents’ Association, Deanby Youth Centre, North Belfast Interface Network, ANAKA Women’s Group, Homeplus NI, PIPs and many others.

The TLP is a very worthwhile course which allows you to focus on your own leadership styles. It’s relevant in your day-to-day job as well giving you a sense of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the community. It helps you to get out of the limitations of the office and build an understanding of the challenges in the community.”

Motivation

1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?

I heard about the TLP from a colleague in Department of Justice who had worked on the Interfaces Team. My role involves working with Good Relations Officers in councils and promoting Good Relations in interface areas so I felt that by doing the course with community groups, this might give me the opportunity to see where they’re coming from, tools to communicate better with them and to think about how we might develop future programmes – it seemed like a good fit.

Experience and Learning

2. What topics stood out for you?

The module on Leadership Styles made me focus on my leadership within my team in TEO – it was useful in thinking about how I deal with things with my own staff. I also liked the session on Collaboration – the vast majority of my time is spent collaborating with councils and community organisations to make sure we get best value for the public money we are putting in so it was very relevant.

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

Definitely the different kinds of leadership styles. As a leader I’m on the softer side and very conscious of the people I work with – I’m not great with conflict and can back down. I have taken away that sometimes you do need to be firmer and get your point across and not always agree just to keep the peace. This can also help when I’m dealing with Councils – it’s important that we build understanding of each other’s different roles, for me to recognise that they are Good Relations experts and for them to recognise our role of protecting the public purse.

4. How would you summarise your experience of the programme?

This is an enjoyable course – one of those that you can get involved in and enjoy rather than have someone talking at you. So much participation kept it fluid and it was lovely to meet all the community representatives and participants from different groups and background.

 Impact

5. Are there people/groups you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t as aware of before?

Yes. It was good to see all the people who attended the course from different community organisations, I learned a lot for example from the participant who was there from the gambling organisation – I hadn’t realised there were so many young people involved in it and would never have been aware of it. And it was good to hear about different projects people are running for ethnic minority groups such as cooking schools etc. It was good to hear what they’re dealing with from their own perspective - sometimes we don’t appreciate the challenges they face and how they deal with them.

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

The TLP probably can make a different to interface areas. On our course the majority were from the North Belfast area and they probably weren’t aware of what others were doing. The course allowed links to be created – they could now lift the phone to each other.  Coming together and collaborating within the course could only help the area and give all those working in North Belfast a better perspective on everything that is going in. Sometimes we can be in a silo and lose sight of the bigger picture – the course showed how so many people are trying to work together with the same goal of making North Belfast a better place.  

Final comments

7. What was the best thing about the course for you?

Probably for me, it was the whole sense of partnership working, even in the Zoom breakout rooms, getting a sense of what others are doing, seeing things from a different perspective. In the civil service there are processes to follow, but in the community it’s not so straightforward – it’s an ever-changing graphic. It was important for me to see how people made links with each other, and they could pick up the phone and let each other know what’s available, including from TEO. It was great to have an opportunity to work with those people.

8. What would you say to public sector colleagues thinking about doing the TLP?

This is a very worthwhile course which allows you to focus on your own leadership styles. It’s relevant in your day-to-day job, as well as giving you a sense of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the community and what people are facing. It helps you to get out of the limitations of the office and build an understanding of the challenges in the community. This makes it easier to prepare businesses cases, keeping in mind that the benefits are not always monetary – they can be social and about making life better for people living in those communities.

mary.mccaughey@nicva.org's picture
by Mary McCaughey

Programme Support Officer (TLP)

[email protected]

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