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Aspire2lead February Update

Aspire2lead is a project part-funded by the European Social Fund that supports women in employment and SMEs across the York and North Yorkshire LEP area.

This months blog is written by another member of our team, Bernie. We love our team and the dynamic it holds. However, no one can ignore the change that lockdown has brought in all of our working lives.

February is often seen as the darkest time of the year, and this year has been darker than most for so many people.  For me, February is a month of birthdays, including my own. This year the presents that came through the post really meant something important to me about connection with friends.  

For those of us who were able to work from home it was to be a month of looking out the window at a blizzard while on a zoom call.  As a team we made a big effort not to become fragmented by working from home after we had made such a brilliant start working together, in that brief space between lockdowns, where the world was beginning to look familiar. 

We invented some online games to share, and learnt some sign language.  We shared jokes and things that went right and wrong, as we went through the ups and downs of home working, sometimes with children to manage, or sharing a small space with other people. We admired giant cookies and Ant-eaters called Archibald.  Whether the sharing of the inside of our homes, lives and vulnerabilities has brought us closer together as teams and work colleagues, will be something for researchers to study in the future.

Despite challenges, it’s been a productive month; we will have a new, highly experienced, key worker joining us soon, which we all look forward to. We are still waiting to fill the other half of a key worker role and looking for an organisational transformation worker, so please point anyone in our direction that might fit the job description or if you fancy joining us get in touch.

Recently we piloted our influencer training internally, with good feedback.  Behind the scenes the work to ensure all the forms we use are compliant with the requirements of our funders, has put us in a good position for the start of the roll-out of programmes by us at The Opportunity Centre and our partners, Yorkshire in Business and Beyond 2030. We have also started engaging women ambassadors, who will begin the process of establishing support networks for women.

We have all been establishing our networks in the community too, getting to know people, gathering information, and finding out about who they are and what they do, like neural pathways they have been mapping their own trajectory taking us to unexpected places such as webinars, conferences, coffee and chat networks.  We are on a steep learning curve. 

In my research into women’s progression in the workplace, and the return to work after a career break, I’ve discovered so many shocking facts in the McKinsey and Equalities Commission Reports. Reading these has made me realise all the more,  why there is,  still, after so many years of pushing for change, a need for this project to exist, and even more so now to ensure the pandemic does not mean a loss of those hard won gains. 

As winter gives way to spring and contraction loosens to expansion I feel the creative sap rising and the desire to really see change come about. I look forward to the next month as the light begins to appear on the horizon.  We wish you all well, and look forward to being able to meet more of you in person when life allows.

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