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On Tuesday night I had the chance to attend my first New Fellows’ Evening at John Adam Street.  Held in the atmospheric Vaults, it was a great opportunity to meet some of the people who had recently joined the Society and to find out a little about what had motivated them to come along.  My colleague Lou wrote recently about the experience of attending a New Fellows’ Evening, and I would highly recommend you take a read.  From my perspective, I wanted to reflect on the opportunities for developing new activity that the event offered.

One of the key sections of the evening involved Vanessa Harrison, one of the RSA’s Trustees, and Bob Porrer, Chair of the Fellowship Council, taking Fellows through the inner workings of the RSA and the different activities that we are engaged in as a Society.  It is always fascinating for me as a member of staff to be reminded of how diverse and widespread our impact is, so for new Fellows it was quite an inspiring experience.  Building on these inputs was a section from my colleague Alex Watson, who explored some of the key ways in which Fellows can get involved in the Society’s work.  These included joining local networks; contributing to the online activities of the RSA (such as our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts) and making use of the Catalyst Fund which he manages.

The key message of these offerings was that Fellowship is as active a proposition as you want it to be.  There are numerous ways to engage with the RSA and the work we are undertaking, and even more crucially to initiate your own work.  New projects and ideas are springing up across the globe, and we are working hard to support them and bring successful ones to fruition.  Indeed the international flavour of the Fellowship was strongly on show last night – as well as being delighted to see one of our Fellows from Orkney in attendance, I had discussions around ideas for potential new activity in the Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Hong Kong.

The key message of these offerings was that Fellowship is as active a proposition as you want it to be. 

In fact, one definite idea which we are developing from the event is the desire to start a new network for Fellows in Orkney.  Having already been pleased that we’d managed to start a network in the Scottish Highlands last year, I must admit that getting something started off the mainland really has captured my attention!  So if you are resident in Orkney, or know someone who is, feel free to drop me a line to discuss how you can contribute.

And if you don’t happen to live in Orkney, you can still find out if there is a network in your area.  And if there isn’t, why not think about starting one.  These can be geographically based or focussed on a theme, but they offer ideal opportunities to bring together Fellows and interested others to work together to make genuine impact.

So, if you get the chance to attend a New Fellows’ Evening, either in London or elsewhere, I’d highly recommend it.  But there are plenty of ways to be involved, no matter how long you have been a Fellow for, so take the chance and make a difference.

Jamie Cooke is Senior Networks Manager for Scotland, Ireland and NE England – follow him @JamieACooke



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