#TakeFiveWith Andy Clarke
Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?
I work in government relations for a food retailer, but in my spare time I'm on the Board of Directors of the Fragile X Society. This role means I get to help families who are connected to Fragile X Syndrome and use my background with government to help create a fairer system for our families. I have lots of hobbies that I don't practice very much - a bike in the garage that I've gone on twice!
What is a typical day like for you?
I spend a lot of time looking at what is going on in Parliament and trying to help people in my organisation understand it. For the Fragile X Society, this means looking at things like funding, care and research. I am the link between the Society and the Disabled Children's Partnership, which brings together lots of different disability charities that are campaigning for the same changes. I love being able to hear the experiences of families and think about how I can best put that across to government to achieve real change that helps them live an easier life.
Could you tell us how you got into your role?
I have a sister who has a severe learning disability. That made me want to do more with disabilities, so I worked at a summer camp in America where I looked after someone who has Fragile X Syndrome. It really showed me the ability that people with learning disabilities have if they are given the right support and encouragement. Since then, I've always been interested in Fragile X, which is the most common inherited form of learning disability. Me and Matthew are still great friends, and he was even an usher at my wedding. I wanted to repay the happiness that Matthew brought me, so I volunteered to help the Fragile X Society with some of their communications. I was lucky enough to join their Board of Directors last month. I'd really encourage people to put themselves out there and get involved.
What motivates you to do a good job?
Knowing that what I am doing could make a difference to someone. It doesn't have to be a life changing difference, but even knowing that by listening to someone's story they feel they can cope a bit better, it's a real privilege. I also think it's great to see the work organisations like How Do I? do and I want to help create a system where everyone has access to help and support.
How do you learn at work?
I read a lot - my day job means I'm always reading the news from lots of different sources. I also speak to a lot of people with different life experiences - asking them questions means I get to learn if what I’m doing is the best way of doing it. When I'm at home, I read journal articles and sometimes listen to Ted talks. I've started listening to a couple of podcasts as well and enjoy hearing other people put their ideas across.
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
My aim for the next year is to raise awareness of Fragile X Syndrome - it's so common but not a lot of people have heard of it. I also want to be able to support the Fragile X Society to reach more families than ever. We play an important role in helping families and I know they really value the work the Society does, so let's see how many more we can reach. In my day job, I'm part of a group looking at how to increase mental and physical wellbeing in our function, and it's been interesting to think about lots of different ways to help people bring their whole selves to work.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FRAGILE X SOCIETY ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS:
The Fragile X Society website: www.fragilex.org.uk
The Fragile X Society twitter account: @fragilexuk
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