In my last post I promised a focus for this blog on my new role. But there has been so much change in the time since I last wrote, I feel I need to broaden scope.
I last felt I had headspace to write in May. Since then I have started a new job which I love, moved house, developed new relationships with colleagues and neighbours and taken up weekly Maltese lessons in an effort to more authentically connect with my roots and family.
The continued easing of lockdown restrictions and freedom to now spend long-awaited time catching up with family and friends, including my Maltese grandparents for the first time in two years, also make it easy for writing and reflection to slip down the ‘to do’ list. (Though, as I learned on the recent LGA Leadership Programme I completed, I’m not much of a ‘list’ person anyway!).
Despite the personal changes above, the biggest has been saying goodbye and good luck to my two brothers, both of which have — in the last fortnight — moved abroad in pursuit of their career ambitions.
One brother has had his first RAF posting abroad and will be away for the next three years. Despite being early on in his RAF career he and his small team have already received a commendation for their service.
The other is en route to the west coast of America, having secured a Traineeship at a brilliant Architecture firm after seven years of study and practice at Manchester School of Architecture.
Despite graduating at the start of a global pandemic, nothing has stopped him from quite literally making his dream a reality — not the cold calling of firms all over the States, the need for a job offer and sponsor, huge cost and visa implications, US embassies being closed and travel bans.
Many would have given up at the first hurdle (there have been many), but I am hugely proud of and have learned a lot from witnessing his continued self-belief, persistence and positivity.
Here’s a snippet of one of his final projects on reimagining Shrewsbury town centre (which may be of interest to some of my Midlands colleagues) with new public squares and participatory spaces. You can even spot a hint of Malta if you look closely enough:
Bringing it a little closer to home, I really put my persuasion and influencing skills to the test recently in encouraging my little sister to join me in Birmingham, from Kent, to complete her Masters. I didn’t do too shabby a job it would seem, as she’s due to join me here in just a couple of weeks. Just one more sibling to work on now (Bethany Vella)…
Thanks to my boss Pete Jackson for encouraging me to craft time and space to write when I can during the busy working week.