Practitioner Spotlight: Stephen Jack

Stephen Jack 2019Our latest #becauseofCLD practitioner spotlight is Stephen Jack from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

For the last 3 years Stephen has been the Strategic CLD lead within Dumfries and Galloway Council for the Statutory Regulations; CLD Plan and CLD related Inspection activity.
Stephen also currently chairs the Dumfries and Galloway CLD Partnership and also the CLD South West Network which involves the three Ayrshire Local Authorities.

Facebook: Lifelong Learning, Dumfries and Galloway
Twitter: @DgcLearning

What’s your current role/title?

My title is Lifelong Learning Manager.

Day to day, I am directly responsible for the Lifelong Learning Team which covers Adult, Family and Digital Learning. The second part of my roles involves responsibility for the Training and Development of all Council employees.

Where did you begin your #becauseofCLD journey?

After graduating with a Leisure and Sport related Honours Degree, I took up a Sports Development Officer post with the Local Authority. A large part of this role was building capacity within local clubs to help them reach their aspirations. Looking back, it was my first taste of Community Development in action even though at that time, some 20 years ago, I probably didn’t realise that I was already helping to facilitate a CLD approach.

After spending 10 further years in leisure managing facilities, sports development activities and Active Schools, I also had the chance to take on a cultural remit involving Arts and Museums.

Through Council re-organisation back in 2011, I moved into a new post which had a localised remit for all traditional elements of CLD, including a wider Community Planning, Governance and Community Resilience role. It was only through this role that I started to see first-hand and better understand the impact that CLD was having on our most vulnerable people and communities. This inspired me to help champion the cause and to help raise the profile of CLD.

What are the key CLD values and principles that have been your anchor in your various posts and/or roles?

I would say that working collaboratively, in particular, has been a driving force for me in terms of my Strategic responsibilities. Partnership working is not always easy and not always two-way but if you believe that it is the right thing to do then sometimes you just need to take the lead and invest the time and effort to make it happen. In terms of taking forward our CLD Plan, relationship management and maintaining and developing new partnerships has been absolutely critical.

More laterally, the promotion of learning as a lifelong activity has also been a main focus of my current role. This goes for both Council staff and also the communities we serve. There is a wealth of learning resource out there, many of them free and we are trying to better promote these opportunities and develop a learning culture where it is easier for everyone to learn and progress aligned with our partners.

If you had to pick one of the Ethics, which would it be and why?

I think it would be Professional Learning. It is very easy to become stale and not challenge yourself both personally and professionally. If you don’t keep abreast of what is happening nationally and on your own doorstep and actively look to improve yourself and your practice, then you won’t be in the strongest position possible to help support and advise our local groups/organisations and learners.

How do you make time for professional learning and development and who supports you in this?

I was fortunate enough a few years ago to participate in a CLD Leadership programme through Education Scotland. This was so important to me personally for progressing into my current role and gave me renewed enthusiasm to pursue my learning.

I have been a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management for the last few years and have found this very worthwhile in terms of the various self-evaluation activities available on their website and the wealth of other information and webinars covering a whole range of management topics.

With so many conflicting priorities these days, time is always the enemy however we have been trying to instil a culture within the workplace that engaging in professional development opportunities and learning is as important as anything else. I do some research and reading at home when something grabs my attention but some of the best recent learning has been sharing practice with peers as part of our regional network and investing the time in this.

I only recently became a Full Member of the CLD Standards Council after deciding to go down the Individual Recognition Process (IRP). I didn’t have a CLD recognised qualification, but I had years of relevant experience and as a CLD Leader I felt it important to secure Full Membership to help evidence my commitment to the sector. I actually found the process quite rewarding as it made me reflect back on the many roles I have played and to bring forward evidence against the 7 competence areas.

Describe CLD in one word.

At the moment I would have to say “under-valued.” It is quite frightening seeing the scale of cuts to CLD related services over the last few years and this shows no signs of stopping over the coming years. We need to look at our identity and better mobilise collectively at a national level before it is too late!

What is the best thing that has happened this month?

A group of local practitioners from various organisations got together to seek out interest in developing a Community Development Practitioner Network for Dumfries and Galloway. The buzz and debate in the room was fantastic to hear along with the positive input from the Standards Council and Scottish Community Development Network.

If you would like to be in the spotlight – get in touch !