take 10 Rebekah McCabe
Rebekah McCabe is senior project officer with Involve, a charity which aims to promote more public participation in decision making. The first member of the Involve team to be based here, she is working on the development of a Citizens’ Assembly for North
What is your earliest memory?
It’s hard to pin down a specific event, but I have vivid early memories of quite a feral childhood in the woods and boglands around where I grew up in the Irish midlands.
Who is the most important person in your life?
I couldn’t choose one — my partner, my family and my friends are all brilliant people who I’d be lost without.
Shock us — tell us something surprising about yourself?
Well, playing a lead role in the Citizens’ Assembly for Northern Ireland, starting this weekend, has surprised even me. I’ve had a meandering career and don’t know if I could have foreseen doing this particular job when I started out, but I’m thrilled to be working so closely on such an exciting addition to political discourse in Northern Ireland.
What is your greatest fear?
There’s too much fear doing the rounds these days — it breeds distrust and anger, and stops us from seeking solutions.
What makes you most happy?
Being with the people I care about and the opportunity to do fulfilling work. Working at Involve on the first Citizens’ Assembly for Northern Ireland is a dream job. It combines a lot of the issues I care about, particularly creating space for people to come together despite their differences to address problems in new ways. That so many of the people I get to work with are also smart, supportive and dedicated is a bonus and a clear recipe for happiness.
What is your biggest regret?
There’s not enough time for regrets. Although I do wish I’d learned how to sew.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned in your life?
My background in anthropology taught me that human diversity, in all its forms, is our greatest strength and it is something that we should cherish and celebrate. That, and also how to cook food.
How do you chill out?
With great difficulty, but usually sleep, books, good company and a long walk will be part of the mix.
The book, the song and the film that means most to you and why?
I couldn’t single one out as there are so many that I like — there are too many that hold meaning for different reasons. As far as books go, the one that’s by my bed, and which feels very important right now, is Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit. It’s a much-needed reminder that change happens in small, incremental and often indirect ways, and that humans have an infinite capacity to envision new worlds.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
Oh, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Maybe I’d worry less. Actually, I’d like to be better at keeping in touch with people.
The Citizens’ Assembly is meeting next weekend, November 16-18. Members will look at the public’s aspirations for a social care system fit for the future, including the role the health service, communities and individuals need to play. Led by Involve, the development of the Citizens’ Assembly for Northern Ireland is funded by Building Change Trust, Open Society Foundations, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.