So, my prediction that I’d have a lot more to write about this week certainly came true- what a week!
I had my first two international skype calls with partners in Finland and Serbia, supported the beat flu campaign with some social media messaging, secured some exciting coverage for our screening programmes (of which I have learnt a lot about) and started brushing up on my welsh language skills- a great example of how an effective work place policy can empower individuals to reach their goals!
First important chunk of progress of the week was getting all of the social media channels up and running for the Sharp Joint Action. With this being my first time working internationally, I’m finding it fascinating to hear how other countries interact differently with the same social media. For example, I’ve learnt that in Greece their use of Facebook is more akin to how we would use LinkedIn here in the UK- a terrifying prospect when I consider the types of content I see on my Facebook feed on a daily basis!
I’m also excited to be using LinkedIn a lot more, a platform I’ve regretfully neglected in previous work, but one I think could become a great space to encourage discussion around the various work packages of the action.
You can follow the SHARP Joint Action social media channels below.
It was also great to chat with my counterpart in Finland this week for the first of our weekly catch ups. It was interesting to discover that outside of their SHARP work, to which they are only committed to roughly one day a week, the rest of their time is spent entirely on indoor air pollution! It’s something, considering my work in my previously role and my general interest in air pollution, that I’ll be picking their brains about when they visit in March- keep your eyes peeled for a blog about some of the findings from that conversation and more about air pollution.
While we’re talking about air pollution, there’s still time to have your say on the Clean Air Plan consultation that is running until March 10th. Healthy Air Cymru have a very useful tool to help you draft your response here: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-the-welsh-government-you-want-a-clean-air-act
Another thing to add to a week of firsts, was my first work package interview with Work Package 8: Training and local exercises, exchange of working practices.
I think the lesson learnt from the interview was that as a comms person, your idea of what could or should be shared can be very different to the people doing the actual work. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What that does is encourage you to be far more tautological and selective about what should be deemed a necessity and what could be considered an opportunity for sharing information. Now in an ideal comms world with my very own Bernard’s Watch, I’d be grabbing every opportunity and running with it. But working on a global, time restricted action with multiple stakeholders, trying to realise every identifiable opportunity would not only be irresponsible but also impossible from all sides.
So instead of filling out a carefully prepared sheet of information I thought I needed, I came away with pretty much most of that information, but the added bonus of understanding the needs, limitations and experience of the work package lead and how my work can best support theirs with minimal disruption.
I’ve also learnt a lot about screening this week. This included two that I had a peripheral knowledge of (Breast and Bowel) and one that in all honesty I’d never heard of before (AAA- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm). I always find it incredibly rewarding in a role like this to be able to start your day knowing absolutely nothing about a subject, to suddenly being able to talk about it like you’d done it your whole life.
This also gave me the opportunity to do my favourite thing which is speak to people who have used the service, to help tell their story. What’s most overwhelming when I make these sorts of calls is just how much these people always want to give back and help others. It almost feels like there’s an unwritten rule of kindness where people who have literally been saved by these services feel they have a duty to pass it forward; with almost every call ending with ‘It’s no trouble, I’m just happy to do my bit’- it really is a beautiful thing!
Lastly, I’m really glad to be getting the kick up the bum I needed to start using Welsh more often. It’s something I’ve said I want to do for the past year but had very little reason to put into practice. However having Welsh language embedded into my day to day activity not only provides the reason, but with the additional support of the welsh language team at PHW, I can take that even further which will help me on my journey to becoming a welsh speaker……eventually!
So that’s week 2 done! It already feels like I’ve been here a lot longer and I feel like I’ve managed to just slot into place and just get on with things which is a really comforting feeling. Still lots to learn and discover but each new thing brings something else to be excited about and a new challenge to be a part of- and such an amazing team to be doing it with!
If you’ve made it this far, thanks again for reading. I hope what I have to say is of some use or interest and do feel free to provide feedback, share your experience of the topics covered or get in touch if you’d like to discuss something further. See you on the other side of Week 3!