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

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

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.

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