Last week, amidst the doom and gloom of the Budget and a fairly tough week at work, we held the second Young and In Gov meet up. Back in January we'd chosen the theme of celebrating success, caught as we were in the middle of the post-Christmas come down with no Olympics or Jubilee celebrations to look forward to.
Little did we know just how much we'd need a positivity boost come March!
Hosted at BDO's smartly corporate offices (angular sofas! funky lighting!), Young and In Gov II comprised around thirty of the sector's best and brightest young officers.
Once the room was full and buzzing we kicked off by asking everyone to step up, be bold, and claim the successes they've been part off. So often we find it hard to put our hand up and say "I was part of that" - or as a colleague's favourite NASA anecdote has it, feel that we're all helping put a man on the moon.
It's not overstating things to say that I had the beginnings of a tear in my eye when I read through the wall of success. From the smallest project to the biggest strategic programme, everyone in that room had played a part in helping to change things for the better. For a cohort of thirty reasonably junior officers, we'd made an awful lot happen.
I had to wipe away the tear quickly as Valerie Pearce, Improving the Customer Experience Programme Director & Head of City Services at Brighton & Hove City Council, was taking the floor. Valerie talked through her own experiences as 'Young Val' and what it's been like to work in local government throughout her career. The best bit, though, was the questions. Far from being one of those talks where everyone's staring at their feet trying to avoid the Chair's eye, hands shot up around the room - neatly demonstrating Valerie's advice to always have a (sensible) question to ask.
It's so easy to slip into the world weary, cynical mindset when thinking about the state of local government in the UK. We could spend our time feeling harrassed, disempowered, and under-appreciated. What Young and In Gov helped me do, though, was to appreciate the potential we all have - yes, even amidst the cuts - to take a stand and make a difference for the people and communities we signed up to serve. And if that sounds overly emotive and starry-eyed, then I can only suggest you need to spend some time with the Young and In Gov in your team - it might be just the tonic you're looking for.
Read Rachel's account of the evening, 'The power of equality' on the BDO blog.
We haven't booked the next Y&IG meet up yet, but watch this space for some exciting news!