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My year in Worthing as a Business Connector

Posted on 22 July 2015 10:28 AM by Patri3V

I’ve just completed a secondment in Worthing as a Business in the Community (BITC) Business Connector.

This amazing national scheme, backed by the Prime Minister and Prince of Wales, who I also had the pleasure of meeting, uses the energy of business leaders to help local communities, especially in pockets of deprivation.

I knew Worthing as a lovely seaside town with lots going for it, a close community feel and a strong sense of its own identity. What I didn’t see until I delved under the skin of the local community was how much civic life is thriving there. My challenge was to see how an ‘outsider’, like me, could see things objectively and make a difference.

I’ve worked with so many different organisations over the last year including Worthing Borough Council, the Voluntary Action group, Adur Chamber of Commerce and neighbourhood councils and there was a common theme. It was a privilege working alongside people who give up their free time day-in-day-out selflessly serving their townsfolk, quite often in unpaid and unseen roles. It made me realise how dependent we are on the dedication and commitment of these individuals. I salute them.

The project which occupied most of my time was developing an online system to help the community help itself. The idea sprang from a clever IT tool we developed at work to help us restore power supplies quicker after storm damage. At work it pairs up employees with the right skills, in the right locations, to assess storm damage quickly and send the right teams and resources first time to fix it. It proved so successful that I began wondering if it could have a wider application. Imagine if we could easily pair up those that need help in our communities with those wanting to give it… it certainly got me thinking.

The system is currently being developed and tested. Ultimately we’d like to see businesses, charities, groups and individuals using this self-service system to connect online, giving and receiving help in their local neighborhood. It’s all about local communities doing it for themselves and driving the changes they want to see on their doorstep. It’s very exciting and I must thank Wildfire for generously giving their time to build the new system. It hasn’t got a name yet so if anyone has got any ideas then drop me a line.

From a personal development perspective the last year has been a fantastic experience. It has helped me operate outside my ‘comfort zone’ as well as provide with my useful insights and knowledge. It has challenged me every step of the way and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. From sourcing Christmas trees, and goodie bags, supplying USB sticks to the ‘Digit Fest’ so that those attending could download information to take away with them and giving advice on conferences, every day has held a new challenge.

Overall I believe that the placement has benefitted all concerned – BITC, the local community, UK Power Networks and also me - I love my job at UK Power Networks though and I’m still looking forward to getting back to my emergency planning role.
Find out more about becoming a Business Connector.



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