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Hi and welcome to Jas’s update on 2018…


My family stuff is pretty much the same as Sal (not surprisingly!) – so I won’t repeat that here!


Workwise, I’ve moved from Birmingham City Council to the “West Midlands Combined Authority” which aims to improve the whole region with better jobs, inclusive growth, improved transport and housing, and public service reform.  It’s essentially a partnership of the seven big metropolitan councils and local partners.  It’s headed by a new elected regional Mayor, Andy Street.  I’m working in the Economy and Strategy directorate, supporting the development of strategy and policy across the region, delivering early stage programmes such as a new Creative Industries "Scale Up" programme we launched last week, and leading on policy research such as reducing homelessness and youth employment – including attempts to improve government policy in these areas.


TBH workwise 2018 was a tough year with chunks of insecurity through redundancy, various failed attempts at finding alternative roles in BCC, and now a six-month interim contract.  It’s felt fairly stressful and at times quite undermining of self-confidence etc.  On the positive side, it’s given me good reasons to stick close to God and to Sal!   And very precious to have some ace friends praying for me and the family through the uncertainties!  😊


It was nice to see my work on our new West Midlands Office for Data Analytics recognised by NESTA last week – and to be handing this over to our new “Head of ODA” person in good shape!


My PhD on “the use of evidence in local government” is (slowly) progressing – my ambition is to complete fieldwork in January, so then it’s “just” a matter of transcribing 30 hours of interviews, analysing them, creating some new theory, writing a 80,000 word thesis, and surviving the viva.  Fortunately in theory I have another two years to complete!


Outside work I’ve enjoyed starting yoga / tai chi / Pilates with Kirsten and Elsa – they are fantastic and I at least provide the tutor with a giggle on a Saturday lunchtime.


Hope to catch up soon!