Amy Searle, Parish Councillor, Mum and worker in the Justice Service. A Little about me
I was recently asked at work to think about what my personal #Hashtag would be, if I had to choose one. Something that sums me up in a single sentence. So, I started to think about what others usually say about me and that’s when it hit me…. My personal hashtag would have to be #AlwaysontheGo.
It’s sort of a running joke that I can’t say no to things. Which is funny really because I’m quite an assertive person! But I really find a lot of joy in being able to give something back to the local community where I can. I would urge anyone reading this to think about what their personal and professional #Hashtags would be …. It certainly gets you thinking.
So, a bit about me …. I’m a thirty-three-year-old mum to a toddler and I work full time within the justice sector, which I have done for 13 years now. Straight out of Uni, I leapt into the world of Probation (I never completed my dissertation, due to personal family issues at the time) but I always wanted to work in crime – a sentence you don’t often hear! But I do of course mean the right side of crime – reducing reoffending and managing risk, to prevent further victims and harm. I’ve been in many roles throughout my time in Probation; Operational Support, Probation Services Officer, Trainer/Facilitator, Project Subject Matter Expert, an Analyst and finally Career Pathways Manager. My professional hashtag is definitely #PassionateAboutDevelopingPeople.
So that’s the full-time-work-me, but there is also a part-time-work-me. Now this might sound ridiculous, but alongside working full time, I actually work part time on my craft business that I developed during Covid. It happened completely unexpectedly and without any intention of developing into a business, but here we are! I’ve always loved arts and crafts but never thought for a second that it would take off! I lose hours of time designing things but when the end result comes together, it really is worthwhile.
I also undertake some voluntary work within my local community. I’m a Parish Councillor for the Parish I reside in and I’m also a Good Neighbours Scheme Co-Ordinator. Being a Parish Councillor has been a real honour, to be able to vote on things that have an impact on our local community. For example, we currently have a proposal for a development of an additional 6000 houses to be built next to our village, so we are campaigning for our residents to respond to the consultation and have their say on the matter. I also deal with most of the communications for the Parish Council, to try and engage more with the local community.
As mentioned already, I also co-ordinate a Good Neighbours Scheme, which is a working party of the Parish Council. It is made up of two councillors and a number of volunteers and was created initially as a response to Covid. During the first lockdown when over 65’s were shielding, volunteers would go out shopping for our elderly residents, collect prescriptions and generally just support them in any way possible within the boundaries of the restrictions. We supported over 60 residents during this time which was fantastic. As covid restrictions eased, we decided to make this a more formal, permanent scheme and therefore linked in with the National Good Neighbours Scheme. We still carry out our volunteering element for a couple of residents locally, but we also spend a lot of time planning and delivering events. Within the last year we have provided a hot Christmas dinner to 104 elderly and/or vulnerable residents, put on an Easter Trail event, a Pride event, a Scarecrow Trail event, a community play event and we are now working on a Christmas event with a trail for the kids and stalls from local businesses showcasing their Christmas gifts and goodies.
You’re probably thinking where do you find the time for all of this, and after writing this down on paper, I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking the same thing! But the truth is, I can’t do all of these things without the support of my husband. So, I’ll leave you with some very important lessons I’ve learned over the last few years:
- Ask for help. If there is something you want to do or become involved with, ask for support from those around you. Whether you just want some encouragement, or to be listened to, or whether you need physical help to do something – please just ask. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and I always live by “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”.
- Accept your limitations. There is so much more I would love to do for my community, but first and foremost I’m a Mum to the most incredible mini human and she will always come first no matter what. Accept that it’s difficult to negotiate time, but it’s important to find the balance and be present for your family. I take my little one to a dance class on a Saturday morning, and get to spend 45 minutes in the freezing cold waiting room, so I deal with my life admin then! Which leads me to the next point …..
- Organisation really is one of the keys to success. Maybe it’s the Project Manager within me, and I’m sure an undiagnosed form of OCD but I truly believe good planning pays dividends. I’m always thinking a few months ahead and planning my time and tasks. I write to do lists because frankly, if it’s not written down it isn’t happening. Do what works for you; I do genuinely believe that you feel more content and confident with a plan in place – even a very informal and ever changing one!
Thank you for taking the time to read about me. I was genuinely honoured to be asked to do this. Although at first, I thought why would anyone want to know about me?! But my husband reminded me that it’s nice to reflect on your achievements and he’s right! Its lovely to be recognised for the endless hours that go into making positive changes in local communities.
If you’re thinking about undertaking voluntary works for your local community – my advice is just go for it! It’s highly rewarding.