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Year Here: The power of the unknown

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Examples and findings, Thought Pieces

Year Here is a postgraduate leadership programme that challenges talented graduates to a year of tackling social issues in their own backyard. The programme combines experiential learning, frontline service and project work and is delivered in partnership with the leading lights of social innovation – including IDEO, Citizens UK, Institute for Government, FutureGov and Nesta.

We offered two current Year Here participants the chance to talk about what they've been doing and what they've learnt about policy and progress.


The business of the day to day means that we have little time to reflect. We get up, go to work, go home, eat, maybe work a little more then flop in to our beds only to do it all over again the next day. Just spending the days counting down to the weekend when we can recharge. Maybe I am wrong, but somehow I don’t think that’s the case.

On my Year Here journey reflection has been something I have had time to learn to love. I have had to tackle many things that I initially approached with scepticism. To give you a little context, Year Here is a nine month post graduate accelerator programme which challenges us to address social issues head on and deal with them in new and innovative ways. When I started the programme I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, my expectations were very far from reality. As a result of this on the first day I had to pretty much abandon my habitual ways of working and allow myself to go way beyond my comfort zone. A pretty big ask for the first day.

My natural inclination has always been to plan everything to the nth degree. I want to know where, when, how and why for almost everything. I have always had some sort of a trajectory and life plan. With Year Here I have had to completely let this go. We are thrown into every situation with very little information and are basically left to fend for ourselves. The idea behind this is that by having to think on our feet we learn very fast and become very good at gaining skills quickly and to a high standard. At first I found this very difficult to deal with, I became quite flustered and stressed. Gradually I have managed to relax into it and have learnt to trust the process. As a result of the different challenges faced through Year Here, including setting up a business from ideation to a working model with supporting business plan in just seven weeks, I have achieved far more than I ever felt possible. My confidence in my abilities has grown and I am much more sure of myself, but most of all I am now able to hold a lot of uncertainty with confidence in the knowledge that if I keep going it will come good.

Trusting in the process is by no means easy and does not mean that we should not question everything. I now feel that we should go through the process and then analyse and learn from it afterwards, rather than putting up barriers before it even starts. We must trust in the processes, go through them step by step, but build in time to reflect. We must ask what worked, what didn’t and take from it the good with the bad as learning from the mistakes is what make us stronger, more competent and more resilient. My experience with Year Here has taught me how approaching problem solving with an open mind and not pre judging solutions leads to much better quality outcomes.

The unknown is scary and it is something that we naturally try to avoid, however if you never explore it, you will never know. Trust in the process, enter into it with an open and positive mind mind and a lot of the time you will reap results you never thought possible.

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