It has been eight months since I read the awe-inspiring biographies from the 2020 Women & Girls Emerging Leader cohort and the Experienced Leader cohort. I was lucky enough to have been appointed as their Programme Director to ensure that they achieved, or hopefully exceeded, their learning priorities from the six-month programme.
I was due to meet them all at their first residential in May. As a Clore Social Fellow myself, and long-time facilitator for multiple Clore Social programmes over the years, I knew how much the participants would be looking forward to meeting each other and to forming the bonds which would challenge, inspire and support them not only in the months of the programme but for years to come.
But, as we all know, the World was to turn upside down. Not only was this residential cancelled, the whole viability of the programme was put into question. Would people have the desire or capacity to participate whilst juggling home and work – both envisaged to put them under pressure that we had never seen before. How would people cope and how could the programme fit?
In considering the next steps I frequently reflected on the centre of the Clore Social model – something that has become a mantra for me ever since I did the programme myself, guiding me through difficult decisions as a CEO and then in establishing my own organisation; the importance for social leaders to KNOW YOURSELF, BE YOURSELF AND LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Now, more than ever, these things felt so important if social sector leaders were to be able to rise to the challenges ahead. Clore Social, in my mind, felt even more important than it ever had done before. These people are the front-line of making sure that social change is a priority and that people stay at the heart of decisions – we had an obligation to support and challenge them.