On Wednesday 5th November I’m off to Malone House to the launch of the Northern Ireland Open Government Network. I have been involved for the last few months in helping to get the launch up and running and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will evolve.
Hard to believe that fourteen years ago I was recovering from a few bad years. Those of you who have read my blog on coping with depression will know how low I was. I couldn’t see a future back in the work place and reconciled myself to being a housewife. I had resigned from my job as I felt that in my state of mind at the time, it was unfair to my employers to continue. I realised much later that they had contributed to my stress but that’s another story. Suffice to say that I felt that my life thereafter would be looking after my lovely family. However, at that time, I was more than half way through my degree at Queens and as a degree was one of my great ambitions I was determined to finish. My mother had a stroke and my mother-in-law had developed dementia around the same time. In 2009,
despite all odds, I proudly accepted my BA(Hons) in Humanities from George Mitchell, the then Vice Chancellor at Queens University.
I proudly hung it up and occasionally dusted the frame. Over the next fourteen years four grandchildren arrived. I baby-sat, helped out as was needed and loved every minute spent doing it. But something was missing. I didn’t feel I was fully in touch with all that was going on around me. I read a lot but it was mostly fiction. Then I discovered and joined Facebook and eventually progressed to Twitter. For quite a while I watched from the wings. I eventually summoned up the courage to reply to a tweet and then to actually tweet myself. A whole new world was opening up, a Twitter world, but an informative world. In June 2013 a new political party NI21 was launched and it seemed the perfect party for me. Despite what happened it is still the party with which I would feel most at home. Through my membership of the party I met lots of new people. The younger ones did not appear to see me as old and I made many good friends. Some of these I have met in person. Others are online friends.
Out of the blue I received a message from Vixens with Convictions asking me if I knew of anyone who would like to write a blog. I said I would think about it. I had written some articles in the past but thought no one would want to read them. Sure what have I got to lose, I thought, and I sent one on to them. Suffice to say that I now blog for them and enjoy it very much.
Through my association with Vixens I was invited to go along to an informal gathering of the Northern Ireland Open Government Network. Hadn’t a clue what it was about. But I thought why not? At the first meeting I said very little. To tell you the truth I felt out of my depth. I went home and read up about it. Next time I asked a few questions. Next time I contributed to debate and made some suggestions.
What is open government you may ask? Simply it’s asking that governments make themselves more open and accountable to the citizens who elect them. Compared to England and to a lesser extent Wales and Scotland, the Open Government Partnership has up until now, had little impact for us in Northern Ireland.
The moral of this story is it is never to late to get involved. Instead of sitting at home feeling unfulfilled get out and put in your two penny worth, make new friends and contribute to a better society for the generations coming behind us. Why not come along to the launch. Register at https://opengovnilaunch.eventbrite.co.uk/ There is no charge and we’ll even give you a bite of lunch.