TLP Participant Story: Zoreena Ahmed, North Belfast TLP Autumn 2021
She completed the course alongside participants from Belfast Metropolitan College, Radius Social Change Group, Linking Generations in NI, Sailortown Regeneration, Ligoniel Improvement Association, the Green Party,Start 360, the Progressive Unionist Party, Pearse GAC, HMRC, Ashton Community Trust, Maximum Impact, Mercy Primary School, and Health and Social Care Board.
"I connected with a group of incredible aspiring leaders. The delivery of the training supported this and was fruitful for everyone involved."
Introduction and Motivation
- Before signing up to the programme, were you aware of any other similar programmes in your area?
I was not aware of any other similar programmes before signing up. Peace programmes don’t want to duplicate the work being done in the area, but this course appealed to me.
- What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?
One of my motivations is that it was part of the overall peace programme and I have a personal stake in that. The objective was clear in the title of the course, and I wanted to have leadership in the community as well as develop my own leadership skills. Another motivation that prompted me to sign up was to contribute to the peace building process and to collaborate with other people across a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. I liked the idea of getting these kinds of people into the one room to discuss issues in the area.
Experience and Learning
- What topics stood out for you?
All the topics mattered to me, and I liked that the trainer put their trust into us into choosing topics. The trainer also considered what learning was important to help transform us into good leaders. The learning overall was very good and whatever topics covered were relevant and interesting, and engaged the whole group.
- What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?
I will take back the topic of social innovation and the iceberg approach. It’s an approach that helps to identify the root causes of problems and looking at these from a different mindset. This could be applied to every part of your life. I will also take the learning from conflict resolution and apply it where I can. All of them are good messages to keep in mind.
The mini-case studies that we covered – the Jam Card also stands out for me. I liked the Martin Luther King speech and how visual learning/videos can provide real life examples of leadership and innovation. Inspiration was drawn from the tutor, guest speakers and looking at case studies.
- How would you summarise your experience of the programme in 1 sentence or in 3 words?
Enriching. Valuable. Inspiring. Worthwhile
I connected with a group of incredible aspiring leaders. The delivery of the training supported this and was fruitful for everyone involved.
- Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?
This course encouraged me to go for a career in community work or leadership. I was able to see how much I contributed to the class during the course, and it enabled me to take something back from the feedback of others. I felt motivated to take a more active/professional role in this world of work. I received encouragement from other leaders in the group and I felt equipped to have solid leadership guidance to do a job successfully.
- Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?
Yes, I do. I now feel confident enough to speak to Belfast City Council and to build a conversation with other participants who did the course alongside me. I have already reached out to various people within our group and to work on things/ideas. It helped me to network with others and establish contacts I didn’t have before.
- What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?
I feel I am in a better position from a network point of view. Now, I have a group of people for advice and information. This programme has given me confidence after taking part and gives a better stance on PEACE IV and its objectives. The course also provided relevant tools that would help me to effectively collaborate with another person. I also feel more confident to either volunteer within my community/interface area or go into it as a career.
- What difference will the course make to the interface area overall? Especially in terms of relationships, collaboration and increased understanding in the area?
A difference that the course will make is that people have gathered to talk about issues in the area. If one relationship or network can be built because of this, then mission accomplished. The course could provide a catalyst for other things to happen and knowing that there are people who feel the same is great. It helps to up the ante and address the issues through those connections.
The breakout rooms provided a space where people could share their own experience and knowledge. They could understand where the problems are coming from, and this widens the scope of what work needs to be done. The people who live in the area ‘get it’ and are like minded.
I have made friends that I intend on doing lots of great work with!
- Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in?
I feel I will get involved into addressing poverty as it feeds into other issues. Mental health and education are two other issues in which I am interested. We have to tackle community issues at a grass root level.
- How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?
I will look to other members of the group and produce an action plan together. Using the PESTLER tool to kick off conversations and keep on track with discussions. I’ve also learned how to effectively chair a meeting and use the practical hints and tips in the course.
- To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course? i.e., would you have developed these skills and be motivated to do something new anyway?
I don’t think I would have done any other programme unless it was related to peace building and this one had a specific goal in mind. I think the course sells itself for me and other people in the area. I wouldn’t have taken any other action had it not been for this programme and the course in general.
If it wasn’t for the course and the tools introduced within it, I wouldn’t have applied for a community job. The course reinvigorated me, and I was interested in networking with the other people who had also signed up for the course. It meant a lot to me personally to be able to do that and I enjoyed the content.I cannot thank Helen, Mary and all my course friends enough. More of this please!
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