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My first year as Director for People

April 23, 2018 1:32 PM
By Rachel Palma-Randle
Rachel Palma Randle

Rachel Palma Randle

It's been just over one year since the Snap General Election was called on my first day as Director for People. It was one heck of a start and it's been a heck of a year. Out of the window immediately went my careful plan for membership development, training for volunteers, online fundraising and candidates. The roadmap to 2020 was suddenly obsolete. It was terrifying, but fast paced and fun.

This job is not dull. Working for the party is challenging and can be frustrating but ultimately rewarding.

One year in and no one's 'To Do List' is getting any shorter. We are doing more with less. My teams have been minus key staff for the last six months. It's a credit to them that we have still achieved so much: Record breaking General Election fundraising; membership retention at over 90%; a record breaking first quarter in a non GE year; launched the first of our bi-monthly micro surveys with 13,000 responses - the most successful survey ever; piloted a chatbot to test the party's message with members; developed a training plan for the party for newer and veteran members alike; relaunched the members portal on the website; redesigned the online training provision now called Lib Dem Learning, worked across teams to deliver lobbying in the Lords and the Brexit campaign; built a digital dashboard for diversity to drive a data driven approach to improving diversity and worked with the Campaign for Gender Balance on the first of this year's Future Female MPs weekends. The second instalment is in May and you should apply here now: for one of the best training courses the party runs.

Phew! Not much then. But, we do need to be SMARTER, using our resources, our staff and enabling our members to better effect. The 13,000 responses to the first mini survey shows that members are chomping at the bit to get involved and do more. And we must react to that urgently. Personally, my favourite thing to do in the Liberal Democrats is run by-elections - town, district, county, parliamentary, whichever. Those moments like Brent East 2003, Eastleigh 2013 & Richmond Park 2016 have given me adrenalin rushes better than sky diving. But it's not just the thrill of winning that I revel in. It is the camaraderie. It's the sense of working together towards a shared goal. For a few weeks the entire operation be it a small local party or the entire party machine works together, full pelt, each person in the team knowing exactly what the goal is and what their role is in achieving that be that delivering leaflets, knocking doors, raising money or talking to the press. It's about being a part of something bigger and about knowing that you have contributed to making that happen. That's what I want for us as a party, for every person to have the opportunity to engage, and do what they can, when they can, to put more yellow on the map and put our Liberal values into action.

This weekend the membership team and I have been at Scottish Spring conference in Aviemore delivering training and meeting local teams. It's amazing to see so many women from this year's Future Women MPs weekend here. And the Scots appear pleased to see 'The Feds' this far north.

The next year will be no quieter or less challenging than the last. I'll be no less a FaceTime mum, but I hope we will be a few steps closer to being a dynamic, responsive, diverse and fun political party using everyone's talents to the fullest.

* is the Director for People at Liberal Democrat HQ, responsible for membership, online fundraising, candidates, diversity, training and development).