Connecting the Fellowship: Irene Campbell
In October this year, Irene Campbell became Chair of the Fellowship Council. Find out why Irene has got so involved and what it is that motivates her:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I have been Chair of the South East region since its inception eight years ago and was elected onto the Fellowship Council when it began three years ago. I have been Deputy Chair for the last two years, and in October this year I became the Chair. It has been quite a journey.
The Fellowship Council is the body that champions the aspirations and talents of all Fellows of the RSA. It is our job to support Fellows and staff in activities of social and civic good. I feel there is a lot of important work to be done in the next year and I look forward to building on the many achievements so far.
In my day job I am responsible for the front facing services for East Sussex County Council. This is the Library network, the Record Office and Archives, the registration Service (births, marriages and deaths) and the cultural activity in the County. I’ve never got out of bed for the money. My job satisfaction is in making a difference to the lives of the people I serve through facilitating access to information, literacy and skilling support, assisting the rites of passage in life events and making life easier and better for people.
2) What did you join the Fellowship for?
I was nominated by a Fellow and was flattered that they considered I had succeeded in my chosen profession. Although I volunteer in my positions at the RSA, it is very much a ‘home from home’; the things I do in my voluntary roles, I also do in my day job. There is so much synergy between my voluntary roles and the role I get paid for!
3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to the Fellowship?
I see many parallels between the aims of the RSA and my own view of what I should be contributing to life and society.
It is an exciting time for the RSA, for Fellows and for the Fellowship Council. The Council is not an executive group: our role is to advise and support, not to run the work of the RSA or decide organisational strategy. We are here to help Fellows engage in the work of the RSA – the alchemy of turning ideas into a reality. For example, through the Catalyst working group, Fellowship Councillors help allocate funding and support to projects that create positive social change.
I am in a unique position because, as well as being Chair of the South East region and Fellowship Council, in January I also become an RSA Trustee which will give me a holistic overview of the RSA. Due to my various roles having been a Regional Chair, Fellowship Council member and now RSA Trustee, I feel privileged to have this unique position where I can see the organisation from all sides.
4) What would you change in society given the chance?
I would like to stop a headlong surge into the ‘me’ culture, I’d like us to care about each other again. I would like to take the best of old fashioned values – for instance, talking to our neighbours over the garden fence and keeping an eye out for each other.
I think, unfortunately society has become a bit too self-absorbed. We can only work effectively if there is a personal and a collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has the chance to realise their potential if they want to.
5) What did you learn last week?
How much someone’s ability to give can profoundly change the life of another human being. I was talking recently to someone about an education scheme where some of the brightest students, through philanthropic giving, were provided the chance of an education they wouldn’t have had otherwise. This touched me deeply.
6) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
I was having a drink recently with Andy Gibson FRSA, and I discovered his father was a philosopher who tweets exclusively about philosophy. I loved that insight into Andy’s family life and funnily enough have given me a whole new perspective about him (sorry Andy!) [Nb. If you are interested in philosophy you can follow Andy’s father at @philosophyideas.
7) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows
In both my roles at the RSA, I’d like to help Fellows as much as possible engage in the charitable mission of the RSA, whether at national or local level. To get involved in the work of the Fellowship Council, you can follow the meetings as they happen, and join in with the discussions on the Fellowship Council LinkedIn Group, or contact a particular Councillor who shares your interests.
You can also write to me (you can see my details on the South East web pages) or if you have any other ideas you can ask the Fellowship Team who will direct you to the best person to contact.