I never dreamed when I started preparing my project plan to apply for a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship that just over two years later the work I’ve been writing about would have been seen in 94 countries around the world and viewed almost 7900 times in 2015.
Figures I can still hardly believe even having just typed them. But they appear to be true!
As 2015 draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve enjoyed all of the opportunities that have become available to me this year and, indeed, ever since I was lucky enough to receive a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. This really is going to be a Fellowship for life.
Having the opportunity to discuss my Living on a Railway Line report with Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, at a Reception at Buckingham Palace, was a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget.
Being invited to give a lecture at Blenheim Palace at a special event, hosted by Lady Spencer-Churchill, to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was a real honour.
Taking the opportunity to disseminate my findings from my Fellowship (Living on a Railway Line) to a wide variety of children and young people, professionals and members of the public has been a fascinating experience. I’ve loved meeting so many different people, all with their own stories to tell, and being able to learn more about the things that are important to them.
Setting up a new Global Partnership to help vulnerable children and young people in Cambodia – many of whom either live or lived on the street and beaches of Southern Cambodia – has been a humbling experience that has impacted on me in an incredibly positive way.
Putting proposals to the British Medical Association which resulted in changes to their national policy on Safeguarding Vulnerable Children has been professionally very satisfying.
Celebrating the first anniversary of the release of Living on a Railway Line by the launch of a new registered charity (SicKids) that I am so pleased to have founded and to be part of, gives me a huge sense of excitement for what the future might hold.
The award of a Churchill Fellowship has been one of the major highlights of my professional career so far. Being given the freedom and support to pursue a plan I had to introduce changes to better protect the health and social care of vulnerable children at risk of abuse and neglect has given me much greater self-confidence to say what I believe in.
Putting together a comprehensive report backed up with international evidence will ultimately, I strongly believe, help to turn the tide of child abuse and neglect in the UK and beyond. The Fellowship award has opened doors I did not even know existed and has resulted in the launch of new projects which, I hope, will make our world, full of danger as well as opportunities, a better place for children to live in, wherever they come from and wherever they live.
I’ve met inspirational people from countries all over the world who have filled me with enthusiasm to make a real difference for children and young people, no matter how small or large that difference might be, and I’ve developed the professional skills to push forward children’s advocacy at every possible opportunity. We all have a responsibility to create safe places for children and young people to live the lives that they would wish to. These are not just words but a realistic possibility if all of the communities in our global society pull together.
The support and encouragement I’ve been given by my family, my friends, my colleagues and everyone at The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has really meant a great deal to me ever since I embarked upon a journey that began with an online application form, an interview in London and 35043 miles travelled around the globe. For that, and the hope of their continued support into the future, I am extremely grateful.
If you are applying for your own Fellowship in 2016 I wish you the very best of luck!
Words and ideas really can change the world… after all, what is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year in 2016.