The community I live in is rural with a mix of wealthy (Wye Valley) and socially deprived (Forest of Dean) there is a high proportion of retired people. It is a scattered community that is resilient and dependant on tourism and farming. The community is very active with lots of events and a really diverse range of clubs and societies from Nosh and Natter to Stitch and Bitch, people are kind hearted but nosy and everyone has an opinion. 

I was the Business Manager of a Community Shop and Café which is community owned and I was responsible for managing a team of over 60 volunteers and working with a management committee. The shop was the hub of the community and gained a reputation for local produce and being ecologically friendly.

As the manager I was at the heart of the community, supporting volunteers and customers, providing services such as cash back and selling tickets to local events as well as working with the parish council and the other groups to promote and care for our community. I am particularly concerned about lack of transport and lack of internet access and the rural isolation problems that the lack of these facilities can bring.

I also work as an advisor for the Plunkett Foundation helping other cooperative and community groups set up or advising those in existence deal with issues that arise.  I have just left my role as Business Manager after 15 years and I am looking for a new challenge. 

I live in the countryside with my husband and dog, we are reliant on our car as if I want a bus I can get one on a Tuesday but come back 10 minutes later or wait until Thursday. If I fancy a takeaway I need to plan it as it’s a 15mile round trip and no one will deliver.  I enjoy Fencing and Cakemaking and Acting.

I wanted to be a part of the advisory board to use the skills and knowledge I have gained to represent our communities to those who have the influence to make significant  change. I think that the more communities can learn from each other and help each other the stronger a community will be and the advisory board need a broad breadth of knowledge to be able to advise. All communities are different but generally they face the same challenges.