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Team out in Glasgow

This is Not Goodbye!

Nicola Biggerstaff

This week was my last as Policy Coordinator at Common Weal, as I now head off onto my next adventure. So this week, for my final contribution to our newsletter, I wanted to take the chance to reflect on what has been an incredible two years, working in one of the most enlightening roles I think I could’ve wished for.

Graduating straight into a pandemic, I knew from the get that my career would have a slightly unconventional start, whatever form it took. I’ll always remember that first Zoom meeting, in which I was told my ‘effort’ to dress in a button-up shirt was appreciated, but not necessary, in which Robin was simply being his entirely unapologetic self, and in which we all took a break from our screens at the same time just to get coffee. I knew this wasn’t going to be a job like any other.

With so many exciting projects completed and in the works right now, choosing only some to highlight is incredibly difficult. The launch of Sorted at the Drygate Brewery in December 2022 brought it home to me just how much our supporters care about what we have to say. To see so many in the room with us, so enthusiastic for what we had to offer, was more reassuring than anyone there could imagine. We poured our hearts into the book, and I still get a kick showing people my name printed in the back pages, to know that I did all I could to help bring the latest Common Weal ideas to life.

These ideas have taken us all across the country. Coast to coast, east to west and north to south, it’s so great to see so many from all walks of life signing up to us, and what we have to offer.

The Doune the Rabbit Hole festival back in summer of 2022 will also always be one of my most treasured memories of my time at Common Weal. I wrote all about it for the newsletter at the time, but it only further reassured me that this job was the perfect fit. Talking to people and exchanging ideas in the speaker’s tent, in the middle of the glorious Stirlingshire countryside in July, I simply would never have had such a unique opportunity elsewhere.

Bringing policy ideas into an inclusive, mainstream discussion that allows us all to understand the impact that politics has on our everyday lives is always a valuable contribution. Because of course this hasn’t been all about me, and what this job has done for me, but it’s about everyone else involved, and about what we can all do to help make Scotland a better place for all of us.

Our policy working groups are an absolute credit to themselves, and we just couldn’t do so much of the work we do without them. Our social care and energy groups have done a fantastic job representing us as far up the food chain as Scottish Government committees. Common Weal is cementing their space at the table because our ideas have value, they are popular with ordinary working people. Why else would our working groups dedicate their time, voluntarily, to work with us?

Our health and education groups have also provided us with valuable knowledge and direction. Their contributions to Sorted, and their future contributions to policy will help Common Weal to broaden their horizons going forward, venturing into new policy fields and inviting positive change.

Our networks of volunteers and local groups are also among the most passionate and driven people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet in person. At events, rallies, and festivals alike, they have all brought an energy and enthusiasm that I have never seen matched anywhere else on the political spectrum or otherwise.

And of course, none of this would be possible without our amazing team, past and present, who have shown nothing but love and support over the last two years. Amanda, Robin, Craig, Kaitlin and Rory, as well as Cristina, Tiff, and Leo. All of whom, at some time or another, have kept us all going, picked us all up and kept us motivated. I have never met such an enthusiastic team of talented individuals, all of whom together have cultivated such a welcoming environment that any new start would be blessed to experience. Because I know I was.

Finally, all of our supporters, everyone who subscribes to our newsletter, who donates, who has ever purchased a book or mug or t-shirt or water bottle, who puts our stickers on their laptops and bags and hoodies, all of you are helping to get the word out and spread the message of hope. Maybe one day, when we talk about Common Weal, we won’t be met with that immediate follow-up of “but who is Common Weal?”

These have been tough times for us all recently. The cost of living, the aftermath of the pandemic, political and social chaos both here and around the world. It is so important that we continue to spread the message of hope. That better is not only available, but it is here, and now, ready for anyone who is willing to listen.

I can’t wait for you all to see what the team has in store for the rest of the year. They have some exciting ideas in the works, from health to business support, from land reform to constitution.

I could not have asked for a better introduction to the big, bad world than I got here at Common Weal. I will always look back on my time working here with pride, and I look forward to seeing what they do next. This is by no means goodbye forever, I do hope to keep up with everyone and what they’re up to, watching on and cheering on from the sidelines, continuing to take our message of hope, peace, and love everywhere I go.

4 thoughts on “This is Not Goodbye!”

  1. Ian Davidson

    Good luck in your new post Nicola and thanks for work done. In response to Amanda’s general Q re starting work experiences; my views from the prehistoric 79/80 era: Starting work in a “traditional” office setting, the support of ongoing official/unofficial “mentors” was critical in my induction; Aunties and Uncles of the office if you like. This is critical for so many reasons: practical, technical, social, emotional support. Starting adult work in any environment is a big deal. It bothers me that these mentoring roles may be absent in today’s workforce, esp if (life) experienced staff do not exist and I cant begin to imagine how it all works in the post covid, hybrid, online era. My niece now works most days at home but thankfully had some in-office induction before covid hit. My wife and I concur that “our” work experience is now more or less redundant and neither of us would last a day in the modern work environment esp all the organisational cultural bulls***. To anyone starting work, I wish them well and advise just to keep breathing in/out and give yourself plenty of adjustment time. If you are unfortunate enough to have a lousy boss/colleagues who don’t support you, then speak to someone you can trust; don’t suffer in silence. Until such time as you have “commitments” such as rent, mortgage, dependants etc, be bold and take appropriate career/life experience risks, as it gets more difficult to do so as you sign up fully to the great capitalist experiment!

  2. Best wishes to Nicola and all at Common Weal. I started work as an apprentice baker at Walter Hubbard’s in Otago St, near Kelvin Bridge, in 1961 yes I am that old! Just like the shipyard workers of Billy Connolly, the bakery was full of real characters. I was recently back there in Otago St. at the Pizzeria, which used to be a T.S.B. and the former bakery is now a block of flats. My wife Carole and I have now lived in Ayrshire for 55 Years and I ended up in the Post Office, which was very good for me and the family and it is very sad to see the current scandal and the tragic treatment of the Sub Postmasters and Post Mistresses. We love going back to Glasgow.
    Of course think of the delays in compensation for the H.I.V Blood Scandal, the Post Office Workers, and now the W.A.S.P.I. women betrayed. Thames Water. I could go on, but suffice to say U.K. p.l.c. is broken. The sooner all in the Scottish Independence movement unite the better. My time is running out but still hope to see Indy over the line, before I expire happily! Please keep up the good work at Common Weal.
    Onwards and Upwards.

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