Originally posted on the Fulfilling Lives blog, Bev Hardman, Lead Engagement Worker for the Inreach/Outreach workstream reflects on how far she has come since working on the Birmingham Changing Futures Together Programme.

Recipe to aid achievement: three scoops of self-belief, two large handfuls of confidence and a generous helping of determination – no pinches, drizzles or dashes here, just good old-fashioned dollops of all the above! (More scoops can be added if desired).

Following on from my two previous blogs, I thought I’d talk about where I am today in terms of my development.

Looking back at my journey whilst working on the Birmingham Changing Futures Together Programme and the Inreach Outreach work stream, it’s sometimes hard for me to fully comprehend how much I have achieved and developed both personally and professionally. Having come from a background of multiple disadvantage and living a chaotic lifestyle, I’d already shared my experiences regarding the various transitions in my two previous blogs but in my experience, I’ve found that the transitional period is an ongoing process as I still must challenge myself daily.

There have been trials and tribulations, more so in my personal life, where these have proved a challenge when balancing work and home life. There was so much I didn’t know about this new environment I found myself in. IT was a major issue for me as this most definitely hadn’t been on my list of priorities to learn whilst using drugs. I had to quickly (with much trepidation and resistance) drag myself into the 21st century quick sharp!

I’d never been to college or university so was extremely fortunate to be in an environment where I could reach out and ask for help, after all, the one thing I was learning to do successfully was to ‘talk about me’ by sharing my own lived experience. Anything else for example, Outlook, (er, what’s Outlook?) spreadsheets etc. was completely alien and a mystery! The big difference now was in relation to me as a person, I was eager to learn new skills.

I do recollect a particular memory –  I had decided to work on my very first Word document, which happened to be a case study. There I was proudly presenting this to my manager at the time and then came the blow! Suddenly there was a series of red correction marks, squiggles and lines all over my document. Apparently, unbeknown to me, I was talking in a mix of current tense and past tense and included a multitude of grammatical errors just for good measure! Once I’d scuttled off back to my desk, clearly deflated (as I thought I’d produced an amazing piece of work), I began reviewing the amendments, the red squiggles and lines all began to make sense.

Bev as a finalist

Today, I embrace and welcome constructive criticism and don’t take it as a personal insult. In my experience, this has proved an extremely valuable tool in which I continue to learn and develop. Today, each time I produce a piece of writing or a blog such as this, I can’t wait to ask someone to proofread it for me just to see all those red squiggles and lines becoming less and less… after all, I am a work in progress and every day is a learning day!

In other news, after the challenging 18 months we’ve all had, my team decided to nominate me for the Multi Business & Community Champion Awards (MBCC), for the category Front Line Worker of the Year Award. I have to say, I was quite taken aback when I received the email to announce that I had been nominated and even more so when I found out I had been shortlisted!

It turned out to be a brilliant night with most of my colleagues from the BCFT team there to support me. I didn’t win, but for me it’s not the winning that counts, it’s the fact that I managed to get through to the finalists and I was even there!

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