Well what a year it’s been. Not only for me, but for Scottish Rural Action. As I write this early July 2017, I look at where I was exactly a year ago. I was working in a shop, all hours of the day and no guarantee of how much my next pay packet was going to be. Internal politics is something I’ve tried to stay out of with any job in the past, but constantly having it shoved in my face made what was a nice job at the start something which caused me undue stress only 8 months later. It was time for a change.
I turned up for the interview with SRA in the pouring rain (typical Scottish summer) on the Monday morning and as I got in the taxi to get me to the interview, my only shirt decided to rip. I felt “blown it already”, thankfully I managed to compose myself and the next morning I got the call “You’ve got the job…fancy starting this afternoon?” Didn’t need to be asked twice, it was time for the new beginning.
At that time, my knowledge of rural affairs was what I thought limited, but within weeks even days of joining, realised it was all things I was experiencing in my day to day life: Poor mobile phone and broadband signal, support of those with mental ill health, wild delivery charges for products, transport issues…I could go on. In the past 12months, it’s been amazing to see what progress has been made on some of these issues. The Broadband Working Group paper, asked to sit on the National Rural Mental Health Forum and the launch of the Manifesto and subsequent Action Plan are just some of the achievements the organisation has gained this past 12 months. On a personal note, there has been improvements with some of these issues for me…Bute now has 4G on Vodafone & O2! Let’s get it to the rest of rural Scotland now.
Only 10 weeks into the role, I was thrown into what was going to be the biggest, yet most enjoyable, challenge of my time with SRA….the Scottish Rural Parliament in Brechin. One of the longest, yet most rewarding, weeks of my working life. Preparation for me started a good few weeks before, but the week itself in early October seen 2 full days in the office (plus I seem to recall a Sunday evening), then a 100+ mile trip to Brechin on the Tuesday night. After what felt like 5 minutes sleep, it was up on Wednesday to get the venue ready, things seemed relatively relaxed at this point. Thursday up at 6am and the hard work really started. It was amazing how everything slowly came together after weeks of planning and preparation, and being one of the few people who made it all happen was extremely rewarding. Friday evening was a chance to let our hair down a bit (bit too much in some cases…not my own of course) before the final day on the Saturday, which despite best efforts, could have been better attended. Always next time!
Since then, I really found my feet with the organisation. I led on social media for the organisation before, during and after the Rural Parliament, and expanded my horizons by doing my first blog earlier this year, that started a mini-series of blogs centred around the winners of the Rural Innovators Awards. The feedback I’ve had from these has been, on the whole positive, with some people saying I should continue blogging. Who knows? It could happen.
What’s next for me? Well, after ButeFest this weekend (psst there’s still tickets left at www.butefest.co.uk shameless plug I know) it’s the job hunt again. I’ve made some fabulous contacts in the last few months, mainly in social media and marketing so this may be a career I move into. Until something permanent comes along, I have my pub job which I love as well. Keeps my social life healthy and the small team I work with are great.
But I know it won’t be forever, the next big thing is out there! I imagine the same could be said across rural Scotland and beyond: It’s not what you know…it’s who you know! Anyone got a job they can give me? I make good tea (if that’s a deal breaker).
In all seriousness though, working with Scottish Rural Action has been brilliant. Emma, Fran and Fiona have all helped me drastically to progress this year, along with all the board of directors past & present. Will be sad to leave but looking forward to the next chapter.
Beannachd leat! Goodbye…for now.