I’m a Professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds. The focus of my research is to understand and expand the ways in which people express themselves, politically, culturally and interpersonally. I’ve worked with the WEA to devise sessions intended to enhance people’s confident self-expression. I see the WEA as a key force for developing people’s confidence to speak for themselves.
Working in schools with children with special needs taught me the mechanics of learning and value of teaching expertise. This acted as inspiration during 25 as a politician, where I found many examples of community involvement as the key reason adults sought further education. After retiring from Parliament I went back to teaching for the WEA, and enjoyed the two-way satisfaction it brings. I believe Lifelong Learning leaves an individual with personal benefits and helps build a society where collective values are understood and appreciated.
I have recently been involved with the WEA as an ESOL tutor involved with their volunteering scheme with Lloyds Banking Group. Volunteers from the bank visited my different classes to support my student’s learning. I have now left the WEA as a tutor, but I’m keen to stay involved in other capacities due to the passion I feel for the WEA’s mission, vision and values.
I began working in adult and community education in the early 1980s and worked for the WEA from 2002 until my retirement from full-time work in 2015. Latterly I was the Director for Education and Deputy General Secretary / CEO.
I am firmly committed to the WEA's vision and continue to campaign for lifelong learning that improves equality, democracy and social justice. I'm a regular user of social media to promote the WEA, adult education, family learning and thoughtful approaches to teaching and learning practices.
I have become aware of the WEA within the past two to three years following a number of recent employee-sponsored volunteering opportunities with several different charities in the North West of England & Yorkshire, through my former employer, Lloyds Banking Group.
I have very recently retired and am now keen to continue working with the WEA. As an Ambassador, I am seeking to both promote awareness of the WEA with my former employer and looking to support the WEA in other ways drawing on almost 34 years of experience of working in the financial services sector.