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Summary: Yesterday I handed in my notice in my current job as Digital Engagement Advisor at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. In a months time I will be Digital Engagement Lead for the Government Digital Service, reporting to Emer Coleman, Deputy Director of Digital Engagement.

There are some people, some offers, that you just do not turn down. There are logistical nightmares, it’s true. I’ll make no bones about that. Al’s mum is ill, his father is ill and he cannot relocate with me. I simply wouldn’t let him. In real terms this will mean a lot of to’ing and fro’ing for some time. It will mean we are not as available at the last minute as we used to be.

But it will also mean many other things too. I will be leaving a team of dedicated, inspirational people who have been endlessly patient, allowing me to find my feet and spread my wings. I will be leaving a Council at what feels like a tipping point in terms of new understandings, new ways of working, new efficiencies but also new opportunities. I will be leaving a desk which I remember feeling to be too big for me 18 months ago and a smaller team who have made me laugh, think and put up with my endless questioning and incessant ‘why can’t we’s’. It will mean not playing a part in the changes and improvements which are happening right under our very feet.

So what could possibly tempt me away? What question was asked which finally made me say yes, yes I will leave a job I love in local government which I also love, yes I will do some ridiculous weekend commuting, yes I will come back to a city which I very much have a love/hate affair with?

A year ago, I met a man briefly in a coffee shop. His name was Chris Chant. He left an impression. Earlier this month I sat with my legs crossed, back against a wall and listened to Mike Bracken. He left an impression. The drip drip drip of tweets from the GDS team in my stream, full of passion and pride. The code on github. The API’s. The 0’s and 1’s. Meeting one of the team in person and listening and understanding the glee of problem solving but also the challenges inherent in the size and scope of the problem. The start up culture. The sheer ridiculousness of the aspiration but the sensibleness of approach and implementation.

But most of all, the delivery. Because words and aspirations aren’t enough. You’ve got to deliver on them. It’s not enough to know the path, you have to also be able to walk it, taking the sticks and stones thrown at you along the way.

That unique combination is probably about the only thing that could have tempted me away to be honest.

Some things, you just don’t say no to. So I’ll be interpreting and translating and educating and informing, networking and connecting and helping some other people to do the same too. I’m excited but I’m also honoured. Let there be no mistake about this, it is an honour to be asked.

This will be the last post in this blog. I’ll continue with the other ones as they could never be construed as a conflict of interest but this one must pause, for a while. I take some things very seriously, and the impartiality of a civil servant is one of those things. If I have anything to say relating to work there are more appropriate places to place those words. This will not be one of them.

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