My name is George Julian and believe it or not my parents hadn’t read the Famous Five books when they decided to give me that name. Except they didn’t actually give me that name, for the best part of 16 years I fought with them about being called Georgina….only used nowadays if I’m in a huge amount of trouble! So yes I guess I have a lot in common with Enid Blyton’s character!
This blog is intended to be full of personal reflections, rants and points for discussion. I’m very keen for it to be interactive so please do leave comments and/or join the conversation over on twitter.
So what might you like to know about me? I grew up in Torbados…otherwise known as Torquay or The English Riviera.
I spent the best part of a quarter of a century engaging in my favourite pastime – study. My parents started me off on that journey, then there was some help from the fantastic staff at Homelands Nursery School, St Margaret’s CP School, Torquay Girls’ Grammar School and South Devon College before finally crossing the Severn for Cardiff University.
During my teens I discovered psychology but luckily I didn’t get good enough grades to study for a psych degree at Cardiff. I’d already settled on Cardiff for two key reasons 1) there was a bridge and some water separating it from home therefore less chance of impromptu visits from the folks and 2) the 1999 Rugby World Cup was being hosted by Wales the year after I graduated. So I studied for a BA in Education – a fairly unique degree in that it was very applied but didn’t equip you to teach when you finished! With the right choice of modules it did lead to BPS (British Psychological Society) graduate registration though and most of my friends at the time went on to become teachers and educational psychologists.
As an undergraduate I got my teeth into doing research – what started as a practical decision (I needed £££ and research work seemed a little more relevant than my other option, Sainsbury’s Bakery) – actually unearthed what I might grandly term as my life’s passion (to date at least)! So with a passion for research (and a complete uncertainty about what to do when I grew up) I stayed at Cardiff moving to the newly created School of Social Sciences to study for a PhD looking at education and curriculum for profoundly disabled children in England, Wales and Ireland.
I fell in love with Ireland the first time I visited – a rather strange train-ferry-road trip to a caravan park in County Wexford as an undergrad. After a number of months doing research there (all the time wondering whether an ethnographic study of Irish landladies would be more appropriate) and an Easter spent with friends in Listowel, Co Kerry I decided that at some point I’d like to live in Ireland. My wish was granted a couple years later when I was appointed as Lecturer in Special Education at St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra (North Dublin).
Eventually I decided to return to the UK, first stop was Wales again and a job with the Office for National Statistics. I was incredibly excited to be working in the Social and Vital Statistics division ~ what I hadn’t anticipated was the importance of the cost of sausage rolls to the bigger picture of social statistics! I kid you not, I spent a fantastic 18mths working on the Expenditure and Food Survey before deciding that my research skills could be better spent on something more applied and more in keeping with my interests.
Next up was what I thought I’d never find, ‘a proper job at home’! From May 2006 until November 2012 I worked at a partnership organisation called RIPFA that exists to promote the use of evidence-informed practice in adult health and social care. Essentially they work with staff (mostly social workers and their managers in local authorities), who are supporting people using social services. These people might need support because they have a learning disability, or a mental health problem, or because they are old or have a physical disability…essentially these people are you and I, any one of us could need the support with health or social care at any time and that is part of what made that job worthwhile. We supported staff to use the most up-to-date evidence (research evidence, service user views and experience, practice wisdom) to inform their practice – so that they provided the best service possible and improve outcomes for those people who require support. That was the plan at least.
In Autumn 2012 I took the decision to resign as Director of RIPFA and establish myself as a freelance Knowledge Transfer Consultant, you can learn more about what that means on my work blog here. At around the same time, I was offered the opportunity to become a Visiting Fellow at London School of Economics attached to PSSRU; I was delighted to accept that role in December 2012 and even more delighted that I was able to share the news with my Dad before he passed away the previous month.
Since then I’ve been focusing hard on perfecting my work:life balance and focusing on the important things in life. I’ve also been focusing on my other rather eclectic selection of blogs:
Memorial Bench that is a collection of photos of memorial benches, their dedications and the views from sitting on them! Again feel free to share your photos and follow the account on twitter @memorialbench
Social Care Curry Club is the blog for my latest venture together with Matt Bowsher, an excuse to get together, eat curry and discuss social care matters; held quarterly around the UK if you’d like to come along get in touch @socialcarecurry
So there you are, a whistle stop tour of my life to date and some of my many foibles…I hope you enjoy the blog. Please do join the conversation, either by leaving comments or by tweeting me. Thanks for your time.