Last week, I had a glimpse of the future. Several in fact. And it felt good!
As part of NCT’s Leadership Team, much of my time over the past 18 months has been spent listening and learning, planning and iterating, developing and delivering… on our strategic plans and projects. And sometimes – whether head down at a desk, battling with budget templates, or having difficult conversations about pace and progress – sometimes, it can be easy to lose sight of what we’re working towards. The real reason we’re all here – to help more and more expectant and new parents get the support they need, and to have the best possible experience of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood.
Back in the Spring of 2016, I was thrilled to be one of the NCT Leadership Team facilitating the Common Purpose events for our volunteers, practitioners and staff across the UK. We developed a shared focus on our five core goals – to strengthen our core services, increase our reach to parents at greater risk of isolation, expand our support postnatally, modernise our image and build a stronger organisation to help make all of this happen. Together, as wonderfully engaged groups of volunteers, practitioners and staff, we discussed ideas for how we could achieve these goals. We listened hard and learnt so much, and all of these discussions fed into the development of our more detailed strategic plans for how we would make our goals a reality.
And then in the Spring of 2017, the rail network was well travelled again as we delivered #ourNCTstory workshops across the country. This time we talked through the more detailed work streams and plans that we’d worked hard to develop over the winter, and shared the early progress made. We discussed what it all meant for each other in our different roles and for parents, what the challenges and opportunities would be, and how we could all work together to make it happen.
All of this time was so energising, as is any of the time I spend with those directly supporting parents. From our shared focus on making a real difference for parents at their times of greatest need, to the very practical and creative ideas of how to do this, and the willingness to challenge ourselves and be open to change. All of this is what keeps me motivated and excited about being part of building a bright future for our charity.
We were clear from the outset that we had to focus first on building and strengthening, focusing on the bits people often don’t see but that are absolutely critical to running our charity safely, efficiently and effectively. Governance and planning, safeguarding, data and IT systems, monitoring and reporting… it’s a long list! And it’s not what gets most of us out of bed in the morning, is it? But without these strong foundations, we have little hope of doing and growing all the brilliant stuff for parents that we’re actually here to do.
And that brings me round to my glimpse of the future.
At the first Steering Group meeting for our IT transformation project (Project Lego!), I got to see the new system we’ll be putting in place. This is about meeting new data protection regulations, mitigating risks around our current systems, more efficient data collection and reporting…. But what I also saw was a vastly improved volunteer experience, better ways of connecting and engaging across our communities, and opportunities to demonstrate the value of our support to parents.
We might be focusing hard on strengthen and build, but it certainly is the route to reach and expand….. and to achieve so much more for so many more parents.