Leadership worth sharing, episode #1: Alison Lowe

Welcome to Leadership worth sharing, a podcast in which ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning talks to civil society CEOs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.

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In the first episode, Vicky travels to Leeds to meet Alison Lowe, CEO of Touchstone, to talk about celebrating difference, mental health, co-production and how, as leaders, we need to give ourselves permission not to be perfect.

“For me, it’s about all of us being human, sharing our humanity, recognising the strength that we all bring” – Alison Lowe

Alison has been a chief executive at Touchstone for nearly 15 years, as well a Leeds City Councillor for 29 years. She was the first black woman to serve on the council. At Touchstone, Alison has embedded co-production and made the charity one of the most inclusive places to work in the sector. Touchstone has been in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers for five years in a row and achieved three-star accreditation in the latest annual Sunday Times Best Companies survey.

Alison has gathered a few awards herself (Forward Business Woman of the Year, Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year) and is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, having opened Pride in Leeds for several years.

In this episode, Alison shares her journey as a champion for diversity and inclusion and talks about being true to these values in the charity’s work. Taking in accountability, responsibility and dealing with personal conflicts, Alison shows us that we need to celebrate our differences and shouldn’t be afraid of taking rocky rides to reach our goals.

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Vicky Browning [00:00:00] Hi I’m Vicky Browning chief executive of ACEVO, the network for charity and civil society leaders. Welcome to Leadership Worth Sharing, a podcast in which I talk to civil society chief execs about their careers, their experiences and what leadership means to them.

There are so many inspirational leaders working to make a difference in our sector and I hope that hearing from some of them will inspire and challenge you like I’ve been inspired and challenged by all the people I’ve met through ACEVO.

For our very first episode. I travelled to Leeds to meet Alison Lowe, chief executive of mental health and wellbeing services charity Touchstone to talk about celebrating difference, mental health, co-production and how, as leaders, we need to give ourselves permission to not be perfect.

Vicky Browning [00:00:44] So I’m actually delighted you’re joining us Alison for our podcast today. I just want to start off by asking a little bit about you, your background, what you do and then tell us about Touchstone.

Alison Lowe [00:00:55] OK. So I’m Alison Lowe the chief executive of Touchstone. I come from Leeds as you can tell from the very flat northern vowels which I love. I come from a state in Leeds called Kelsey Croft where I was one of three black families. It’s a 4,000 house estate so there was us in one end up, a family in the middle and the Nelsons in the end. So obviously you ought to learn to be a bit of a street fighter to survive. And I’ve used some of those experiences in the world of the voluntary sector and I think it’s kept me in good stead because it is a bit topsy turvy on occasion.

Vicky Browning [00:01:27] And you’ve been at Touchstone for really quite a long time.

Alison Lowe [00:01:31] Yeah. Nearly 15 years.

Vicky Browning [00:01:33] And so just tell me a bit about the organisation, what it does and what makes it special.

Alison Lowe [00:01:36] So we’re a mental health and wellbeing charity based across the whole of West Yorkshire. A little bit of South Yorkshire. What makes it special. There are quite a few things. One is our specialism. We work rather successfully with the communities that we serve particularly BME communities. So that’s our USP and we’re very confident about the work that we do with black and minority ethnic communities and we’re well known for delivering high-quality services to those people. But we’re really rooted in all the communities that we serve, are very confident and comfortable in those communities, we are all of those communities. We recruit people from a diverse range and also who come into employment through very different routes: criminal justice backgrounds, drug and alcohol, mental health.

Alison Lowe [00:02:19] So we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But we are also very aware of our differences and incredibly inclusive of each other each other’s strengths but also each other’s weaknesses. We talk openly about our mental health. I’ve got mental health difficulties. We talk openly about our differences we celebrate those. We don’t practice any religion but we celebrate our religions. And overall I think Touchstone is a very safe place to work. And I think that’s part of our success.

Vicky Browning [00:02:46] You’ve won lots of awards for being a really great place to work. So most recently you were named in the Sunday Times Top best nonprofits to work for. You’ve also been ranked number one in inclusive employers list three years in a row. And in the top 20 of Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers. You mentioned the assumption there about the inclusive nature of what you do and the openness that you encourage within the organisation. One of the other things that I noticed from the citation particularly from the Sunday Times piece was about the values that you have. I think it says something like 90 per cent of staff agreed that Touchstone is run on strong values and principles. How did you go about establishing what those values were? And how do you make sure they’re lived and not just paid lip service to?

Alison Lowe [00:03:35] Well I’ve been on a journey. Touchstone has come along with me on that journey. So it all started with me because actually, I was in conflict. I’ve talked about mental health and for many years I wanted to be this wonderful warm open inclusive person. Actually what I was doing and what I was saying were not the same things. And I had to go through a really difficult journey of self-discovery and exploration which was incredibly painful. I went through coaching but I was abused as a child and I think I haven’t understood how that impacted on me as an adult and how controlling I’d become because obviously I could control this bit of my life and I couldn’t control that bit of my life. Through coaching and through goodwill from me because I really wanted to be different. I learned the lesson that actually I had brilliant people around me.

Alison Lowe [00:04:21] They were bright they were clever. I had to let that go. And I had to share power and the more that I understood myself and gave himself permission to not be perfect be open about some of my deficits some of my weaknesses but also celebrate my strengths I was able to bring on board all the other wonderful people who wanted to come to Touchstone. Because we’re all wounded healers really, we’re all of us very alive to the fact that to some people in this society we’re not perfect we’re not good enough but within Touchstone, we don’t need to be perfect and we’re all good enough. So through that very painful difficult journey, I came to a place where my values were in sync. I understood what made me tick so what made me happy. And now I communicate those values really effectively to my staff and the people who come to work with us. They want to work within that value settings, they’re really aligned to those values. 99 per cent of our staff when they were surveyed said that they shared our values which apparently is amazing. And that is because we attract people like us who are not perfect. Understand that they’ve got lots to give, but also understand that they’ve got lots of lessons to learn on that life journey and we’d be learning together.

Vicky Browning [00:05:40] That’s all very connected to you personally. So your journey was your personal journey. Happened during the time you you’ve been at Touchstone. The organisation has developed around your understanding and your realisation that what was needed in the services you’re offering was this approach. Does that worry you? How integral you are to the organisation in terms of what happens next? You know at some point you might want to do something different. It feels like it’s all very tied up with Alison Lowe specifically. Do you think you need to change anything about that or have you brought people underneath you to take over if you do leave?

Alison Lowe [00:06:21] The great thing is it started with me but now everybody else is taking that on board. So we have a very strong distributed leadership culture so it’s not all about me anymore. It started with me. I’m a very strong person, I’m a very powerful person, but not anymore. People don’t tell me stuff because I don’t need to know. We have these things called leadership parameters. It’s in the budget, it is in the contract. It is co-producing, does it honour our values? If the answer to all is yes, get on with it don’t tell me don’t ask me don’t email me. I don’t need to know. The senior manager probably doesn’t need to know. Get on with it. So each of our team managers, they are mini chief execs. They run their services in line with our values. They deliver for the commissioner. They run excellent services and they know. I’m the leader but not just their leaders. Everyone is a leader so we have a huge development programme for all staff. We massively promote leadership as not just an entitlement of everybody but the fact that everybody is a leader. And how do we help people to discover what they are leaders at and how do we nurture that. So, for example, we have leadership masterclasses.

Alison Lowe [00:07:35] So I’ve just had a brilliant speaker this week Kate Davis CBE, very senior in the NHS she came and talked about her life journey. We have lots of speakers. We’d have the chief executive of Leeds City Council. We’ve had people from a range of backgrounds who talk to staff about sometimes incredibly traumatic beginnings but how through adversity they have fought their way through and have developed their leadership capacity to survive and to thrive. That message is permeating and permeated throughout the whole of Touchstone so everybody knows what their role is. They also know they can stretch and be aspirational and do different roles.

Alison Lowe [00:08:20] More than 50 per cent of our management team started in a different more junior role. Half of my senior management team started in a different more junior role. So now I think that if I left tomorrow, people would be really sad and I’d be devastated but I wouldn’t leave a huge hole because the capacity and capability of Touchstone is brilliant and it doesn’t need me to prop it up because it’s so embedded. There’s a golden thread of inclusion, leadership, confidence. People know what they’re doing. They’re gonna fly. Whether I’m there or not.

Vicky Browning [00:08:58] You mentioned something about power. And I think a really interesting issue that’s being thought a bit more in our sector is: how do you devolve power? How to address the imbalances between either genders or races or charities and beneficiaries. So you’ve talked about that in terms of devolving responsibility. So very clear parameters but within those parameters, control. So that’s within the organisation. So what about power between the organisation and the people that you serve, that you work with.

Alison Lowe [00:09:32] So just to go back, we don’t have control. We have accountability. That’s the word I would use. So in terms of our service users. I think the beauty of Touchstone is many of us feel like we’re service users, some of us have been service users. For us, we’re on a continuum, we’re on a spectrum, and at any point, any of us could become a beneficiary of Touchstone, on our end of the mental health service. And that really is brilliant because what it says is we’re all here together working towards good mental health for our communities of which I am one. And co-production is something that we are passionate about at Touchstone. So we have so many, over 40 different mechanisms of inclusion, involvement, co-production. We’ve worked with about 40 partners over the last two and a half years to develop a co-production standard for the sector. For any sector, for any city, any country. We’re now working on a toolkit to support being able to complete the standard. We’re talking to commissioners about utilising that standard because we’re sick to death of people saying “well we’re really good at co-production” and actually no, they’re not. And I think the key to co-production is: can you tell, in your organisation, who is the beneficiary and who is a member of staff? You can’t at Touchstone. People often think I’m a service user, which I don’t mind because tomorrow I could be and in the past, I have been.

Alison Lowe [00:10:58] So, for me, it’s about all of us being human, sharing our humanity, recognizing the strength that we all bring. The experience that we all bring and learning from that. So our service users have all the different decision-making mechanisms. There are lots and lots of ways for service users to get involved. We have things like competence and complaint audit panels, so every complaint is audited by trained service users. I service that panel to adopt all the names and identifying features, for example. There’s a golden thread, so people, service users or every level of the organisation. So if I think “I can lie here. They’ve been very critical of me. I lie there and I’ll take that out”, it’ll come somewhere else because that person or another person will say “actually Alison. We said you were out of all of this so what do you think you are doing?”. So there’s no way of hiding because we have people with lived experience in our board. We have subcommittees with service users with voting rights. There’s no way of hiding and that’s brilliant because it means that you have to be open and transparent. You have to share. You have to be honest and you have to have that dialogue around what it is to use services and deliver services and can we do that together. We’re on that journey. We’re not perfect yet, probably never going to get perfect, but we’re really committed to getting as close to true co-production as we possibly can.

Vicky Browning [00:12:19] And when you say other people think they’re good at co-production but aren’t. Is that an arrogance, that they’re still doing to instead of doing with? What do you think is the barriers that other people are seeing that you’ve somehow overcome? Perhaps that they’re not seeing.

Alison Lowe [00:12:37] Overcoming. I don’t think we are there yet. I don’t think that we’re the best at co-production, but we started that journey and we’re in the car and we’re on the way. We’re not still packing up the trunk or I’m wondering whether or not we need water or sandwiches or whatever. So I think some of the barriers are that… people don’t know what co-production is. People think that involvement is co-production and it isn’t. Sometimes people think they have to say “we do co-production” to get contracts, to tick a box, so they do it and they don’t really understand what that means and sometimes they don’t care what that means. I think some of the barriers are resources. Co-production is really expensive. You’ve actually got to pay people for their involvement and for their time and you’ve got to create spaces that are safe, that are welcoming. As a  BME specialist organisation, food is huge. We have to feed people. And there is a huge commitment to thinking about how you do it. The spaces that you do it in, how you make people feel welcome.

Vicky Browning [00:13:36] It’s really it’s a business decision, isn’t it? It permeates all of the decisions you are making about finance and resource and policies.

Alison Lowe [00:13:44] So we’ve got policies that I’ve got co-production embedded, about who you include, who are consultees, who are part of different mechanisms, even in our budget setting. We go to our service user involvement group, which is called News for You. We go through the budget with them, we’ll check in with them. Is this something that you think is okay? I mean, obviously, we don’t patronise people and expect them to understand all the different parts of a budget or a set of accounts, but we identify those people with strengths for particular activities.

Alison Lowe [00:14:16] So, for example, we’ve just recruited a new finance director and we had a service user panel at one part, but we actually had someone with lived experience who was a very senior finance director at another organisation. And I rang her up and said “please would you come on our interview panel with the trustees because you’ve got lived experience but you also are a specialist finance person” and we’ll know when this person speaking will telling us the truth, or making up as we go along. That person came and added value and we paid that person. We made sure that we have the right person with the right skills. We still have service users panel, and that was all about “how does it feel?”. How does each candidate feel to you, could you work with them? Do you understand what they are saying, are they saying in a way that’s inclusive? Are they absolutely a no go? And they really loved being part of that process. And they added enormous value.

Vicky Browning [00:15:01] You talked a lot about inclusion, and obviously, diversity is really important to you and it’s something that you’ve made absolutely integral to Touchstone. Again in the sector, there’s a lot of talk about diversity. The dial isn’t shifting anything like as quickly as a lot of people would like. So, if you were to give advice or suggestions to people who were further back on the journey then your organisation is, what would you say to a chief executive who is really starting to think about this seriously and properly, and wants to start contributing to shifting that dial more quickly?

Alison Lowe [00:15:33] Leadership, absolutely. So not just leadership from the chief exec, that’s got to be support from the trustees. Because it’s painful, and it’s going to get… the ride will be rocky. You have got to set yourself targets. People… I know it’s a very toxic debate about targets, but for me, if you do not know where you are now… So get your baseline data and if you don’t know where you’re going how can you get there? How do you know when you’ve got there? And how can you celebrate successes and then action plan around the deficits? So targets are really important.

Alison Lowe [00:16:05] But that is going to cause lots of feelings amongst your staff. And so it’s then about communicating and using your leadership position, your negotiation skills to take your staff team with you. At Touchstone, we did a big piece of work around LGBT inclusion about 10 years ago. We had a very very diverse staff team at that time in terms of ethnicity and religion. But 70 per cent of our staff were BME. It was a really difficult conversation to have with some people who felt that it was not in line with their Bible their Koran or whatever it was. So we had to really take people with us. But as a golden thread through all that was: this is non-negotiable. Because people from LGBT communities are dying. They’re dying sooner than heterosexual counterparts. Suicide is really high, particularly amongst trans people. Mental health amongst all people from LGBT backgrounds is worse than their heterosexual counterparts. So if you want to work for a mental health organisation, you say that you share our values, then you need to get in, behind us, or get on the door queue. Because either way the decision is yours but it’s non-negotiable. Because the facts tell us that this is something that we morally and absolutely, based on our values, have to do. And you know what? No one left. Yeah, there was some feelings. Within 18 months were in Stonewall top 100. We’ve been in now for six years running with a 10, 20 spot, which is top 5 per cent. I was the Stonewall senior leader in 2015 for some of that work that I’ve done. But at the end of the day, it’s now a safe place for my kids and it wasn’t. And I’ve got two gay children and it wasn’t a safe place for my kids in 2010 when we started this journey. So I think it’s really important that we are leaders, that we stand up, and we be very strong voices in terms of inclusion. We give the facts that we set ourselves targets, have a baseline, get by and do it.

Vicky Browning [00:18:08] Nothing’s ever easy, but it’s easier as a chief exec to bring your staff with you because ultimately there is that sanction: my way or the highway. But trustee boards… It can be more tricky. What techniques or what influence do you think people should be using to make sure that the board is genuinely on board with this? Given that there are fewer levers in your armoury to do that.

Alison Lowe [00:18:31] It’s about purpose, isn’t it? Why are those trustees there? Why are they giving their time? They’re not doing it just because they’ve got a spare year. They are doing it because they believe in the purpose, the mission, the values of the organisation. And you speak to that. You speak to the heart and you give them facts and figures, so you speak to their head. Some people are heart people some people are head people, and so you use your influencing and negotiation skills as a chief exec because we all have them. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in that role. You use those skills to bring your trustees on board. You talk to their heart, you talk to their head, depending on which sort of person they are. You use the facts and then you ask the question: why you’re here? Why are you here? If it’s not to promote the well-being of group a or group b according to our memorandum and articles and all the rest of it.

Alison Lowe [00:19:19] So you really hold people to account for their reasons of being on that board and you can’t be afraid of holding your trustees to account for that purpose, for their rationale for being there. Why are they there if they don’t want to help the chief exec, deliver both the strategic objectives but also the values, the mission of the organisation.

Vicky Browning [00:19:39] It all comes back to the same accountability that you talked about earlier.

Alison Lowe [00:19:43] Absolutely. So you’ve got to hold accountable to every level. I’m held accountable not just by staff but also by trustees. But similarly, it’s like a series of concentric circles. It’s not just me being accountable it’s all of us being accountable for the work that we do, for the purpose that we deliver. I think it’s OK for us to ask those questions. I’m a public servant. 29 years I’ve been a local councillor. I know what it is to serve, and my purpose is to serve. But also through that process of serving, get results that made the objective of the communities. I’ve got lots and lots of communities in mind when I say communities. My trustees are a community. My staff are a community. My beneficiaries are a community. All the stakeholders such as commissioners, partners, they’re all communities and I serve them all.

Vicky Browning [00:20:32] And do you feel, as a woman of colour, that there is a burden on people of colour in the sector to lead on this diversity stuff? And is that frustrating and what can white leaders do to be better allies in this?

Alison Lowe [00:20:46] I don’t feel that it’s a burden. I think it’s absolutely my privilege to be a role model. I feel joy that I can bring black women into leadership positions, that I can stand up there and do my leadership talks and my inclusion talks. And know the black women in the room come up to me and go “oh she’s so inspirational it’s brilliant”. That gives me joy, that gives me pleasure. And I really firmly believe that white people are part of the solution. It’s not just me as a black woman knows all, I really don’t, but I know that working together with all the people who think like me, the allies who think like me, that we can make a difference together. So I’m not gay but both my kids are gay and I’m a huge ally of the LGBT community. I use my time. I was at an event last night which Touchstone sponsored. I use my resources as an organisation not just sponsoring things like that – we sponsored the first trans pride in Leeds – and I also use my passion, so people contact me and say “I’m having a problem at work is transphobia” or is biphobia or whatever it is. “Can you help” and I do, I help them. I help them because I know about employment tribunals and know about child legislation. I tell them. I go to places with people, I sit on employment tribunals for people that need me to because I’ve got assets and resources, and my job is to share all those things. It’s great being a woman of colour because sometimes I can say things that other people can’t say. But it’s also a huge responsibility because I need to be careful about what I say and when, because words can stick. So I always say to people of colour, black people, if you think that something’s happening because of the colour of your skin we need to get facts. You can’t just use the ‘r’ word and let that get out there. That’s a responsibility that you’ve got to make sure we use that word wisely and proportionately and based on facts and evidence otherwise our voices get lost. People think “oh it’s them again”, moaning again. So it’s a responsibility not just for me to educate white people but white people it’s also about saying to people of colour, BME people of faith et cetera, we need to get our act together to work together.

Alison Lowe [00:22:51] Name and shame it when we’ve got facts and figures. And if we can get the facts and figures don’t let your friend go in on your brother or sister go in. Tell them to stay clear if they don’t get a good feeling. But let’s work together. Black, white, whatever colour we are, whatever agenda we have, whatever sexual orientation we are, let’s work together to make this work environment better for everyone and a better world for everyone.

Vicky Browning [00:23:11] And you mentioned earlier that you have been a councillor for 29 years. Your Twitter handle is Alison4labour.

Alison Lowe [00:23:20] It’s changing to Alison4life!

Vicky Browning [00:23:24] Obviously your political work is really central to who you are and how you make an impact within the world. How have you balanced that line between political activity and the political neutrality that is expected of a charity chief exec?

Alison Lowe [00:23:43] Well again it’s been a journey. Because it isn’t easy. Because you have to have boundaries between the two, constantly disclosing interests in different spaces. And I don’t know if you have guessed but I don’t have a filter sometimes. I’m just very aaaaaahhhh and I’ve had issues with mental health and you know I celebrate and I love that about me. But you’ve got to be really self-aware about when… Even if you don’t feel that it’s about…conflicts of interest that the perception of others turns you as a professional person can also impact on your organisation and can embarrass or compromise officers who you’ve worked with for many years and really respect. It is difficult. It’s a constant battle to be thinking. Am I aware in this particular setting? Do I share things here, do I share things there? So generally speaking I don’t share things from this world in this world. I have lots of the very senior council colleagues so would sometimes be very interested in actually how political policy that I know is x, how it’s being interpreted in a way that makes it now be. But I don’t do that because the minute I take my experiences as a chief exec to my senior colleagues, my relationship commissioners, with senior officers is finished. But it’s also not fair because sometimes what we think is councillors in a utopian world, and should be the outcome of policy. It’s not really realistic.

Alison Lowe [00:25:12] Sometimes officers are right and the politicians are wrong. So I’ve got to tread a really fine line between Touchstone’s interests, the council interests and also the fact that I need to work passionately with people. I’m not sure, I am a professional and I don’t want people to feel unsafe in my company. So it’s hard. It’s a constant battle. But I think I’ve done a good job over the years. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes. Particularly in the beginning. But I’ve got better and better and better at it. And has it helped me? Yes, it’s helped me because my strategic awareness of national policies and how they are interpreted at a local level has been second to none. As a result of my position as a Labour councillor in a ruling Labour group but also it’s hampered me. Because there have been times when I think officers have felt ‘we can’t give it to them because she’s there’ or ‘we can’t have that conversation because she’s there’. So overall I think it’s been a good thing. I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody. But it’s a really stressful position to be in all the time because you’ve got so many different dynamics and so many different audiences. And at the heart of all that is you as a professional person.

Vicky Browning [00:26:19] And how have you managed to balance that? Because you speak very openly about your mental health. I mean sometimes I just feel exhausted just listening… you say ‘when I sit on tribunals’ and ‘I talk this person’, ‘I do that’ and ‘I went to a meeting last night’ and ‘I’m committed today, doing this tomorrow’. You’re really busy, really active and you know that you have vulnerabilities. How do you look after yourself?

Alison Lowe [00:26:42] Well, first of all, I know myself very well. But I’ve learnt over the years that I can’t tell lies. Yes, I’m a politician and I can’t tell lies because, of course, I can tell lies, but if I do I know that it’s going to have an impact on my mental health. Because I get really anxious and I’ll start worrying that someone’s going to find out that I’ve said this when I said that to somebody else or that’s really the truth. I know that I’ve got to have integrity. I have to honour my values. I have to be. Sometimes I’m too loud sometimes I’m too this or too that. And I have to celebrate that and love the person that I am because that keeps me well. I try my best, I really try my best to live a good life and not to be a horrible person, not to bitch about anyone, not to criticise people unless it’s something in the context of one of my roles and it’s the job that I’ve got in hand. So I know how to live my life. I like to read. I like to go on holidays but as the years have gone past I’ve also recognized that I am doing too much and the capacity that I have for doing everything is beginning to diminish.

Alison Lowe [00:27:41] I’m 54 now. I’m beginning to feel my aches and pains, which is why I’ve made the decision to stand down as a councillor this May after 29 years. I’ll be bereft for a short period of time, there will be holes in my diary. But in a way that will give me time to find myself again and give myself a bit of time. My daughter is just about to have a baby and I’ll be a nana for the first time ever. There’ll be new things for me to do. My children are 31 and 33. I am able to do lots and lots of things without impacting all of the people. I’m single. But I know that now at 54 I don’t want to look back at the end of my life with regrets and thinking I gave and gave and I never took. So I’m gonna try and take a little bit and get a bit more balance in terms of my work and home life.

Vicky Browning [00:28:25] And do you think you’ll stick to that (laughs). Giving up for a week and then suddenly inundated and you’re taking everything else.

Alison Lowe [00:28:33] I really like to be, I like to be busy but I like to be doing different things as well. That’s the other thing is I like diversity. I like to be really stretched and I like to be scared. Not all the time. Oh no not all the time! But from time to time I like to be asked to do some things that… Oh, I don’t know how to do that, I’ve never done that before. Wow, that’s so exciting. It’s scary. So I need that in my life. And on the council, I’ve been there so long that terrible things happen to my constituents and I have to deal with that. But it’s scary for them and it’s not really scary for me. Yeah I’m sure I’ll do all sorts of things but they’ll be different and they’ll be reinvigorating because they’re different. I don’t think I’ll be doing less. I’ll just be doing different things.

Vicky Browning [00:29:10] And a bit more time for family. And particularly when a grandchild comes along that’s a big shift isn’t it.

Alison Lowe [00:29:16] Yeah yeah. I’m very excited!

Vicky Browning [00:29:18] That’s really lovely. Congrats for that. Thank you very much. Alison, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. I particularly enjoyed the bit where you talked about the joy and I felt real joy coming from you. And it made me feel very joyful as well and I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you very much.

Alison Lowe [00:29:34] You’re welcome, thank you.

Vicky Browning [00:29:35] This was leadership worth sharing. The podcast by and for civil society leaders. Thanks for listening and we’ll meet again in a few weeks. If you want to know more about ACEVO check out our website: acevo.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter. Twitter.com/acevo. Goodbye.

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