I had only heard a little bit about the Local Government Challenge from previous contestants, who all told me the experience had a positive impact on their work. I was hoping it would do the same for me.
After doing a bit of research, I became excited by the idea of working with others from different councils across the country and learning how local government works outside of Kent. I was hoping there would be opportunities to bring new ways of working into my work and that of my team.
The first challenge didn’t get off to a great start – my alarm went off at 5.15am, it was snowing, and the first train of the day was cancelled. I was slightly regretting what I had signed up to.
Three and a half hours later, I was meeting the other contestants (now friends) at a train station somewhere in Oxfordshire. Another hour later, and we were thrown into the first challenge. I can’t speak for everyone, but by lunch I could see that taking part in the LG Challenge was going to be an amazing experience.
I can now say that the LG Challenge has changed the way I work. I, and my team, work in a much more collaborative and creative way, helping us to deliver better results.
I am better able and equipped to deliver presentations, although I have not yet plucked up the courage to deliver a role-play in any of them! I am more confident in working with senior managers and leaders to explore new and different ways of working.
In local government, with the pressures we face every day, it is very easy to always look internally. The biggest change for me is that I am now connected into a wider network that has opened up a much more diverse conversation for me when looking to address challenges within Kent. It has been invaluable to share ideas across a network and is already making a difference to the way I work and deliver services in Kent.
Having worked in children’s services for eight years, the wellbeing of children is at the heart of everything I do. I had heard about the concept of summer learning loss and felt passionate about creating a solution that meant children did not need to be disadvantaged by the summer holiday break in learning.
The way I developed the proposal was a mix of desk-based research and engaging with young people and teachers around the issue. The feedback I got from speaking with young people was fundamental to my proposal and will remain fundamental as the project progresses.
“In local government, with the pressures we face every day, it is very easy to always look internally”
LG Challenge is by far the best development opportunity I have been involved in during my career, and my advice to others considering applying would be absolutely to go for it.
But be prepared for incredibly hard work, late nights, early mornings, moving completely out of your comfort zone, pressure and delivering some of the most demanding work you’ll ever be asked to do.
If you’re prepared for that, what you will get is: an opportunity to deliver genuinely transformational work for other local authorities in a collaborative and innovative way; an opportunity to work with and build a network of inspiring individuals across our sector; and an immersive personal development opportunity that will enhance your career in the public sector.