Our August researcher of the month is Jill Robinson. Jill’s career so far has been fascinating and diverse; she brings a great deal of expertise to InterLand. Read more to get to know Jill a little better:
I initially embarked on a teaching career in London, but this was interrupted by a move to the former West Germany because of my husband’s job. On returning to UK, I taught History and Government and Politics in Birmingham for a few years and then changed career direction. I joined Birmingham City Council and helped to develop and set up the City Council’s first integrated European unit in the early 1990s, gaining a wide range of experience in EU funding, project development, event management and international networking. I retired in 2008 as Head of Regional, European and International Affairs for Birmingham City Council, before undertaking consultancy work related to the EU, mainly on social affairs and cultural and creative industries including research, report writing and editing, bid writing and project management. I then decided I wanted to pursue my own research and was invited to join InterLanD.
I have been a Visiting Fellow in InterLanD since October 2012 and Project Manager of the FP7 funded project CITISPYCE since January 2013. My research interests centre on disadvantaged young people and whether participation in the performing arts, particularly group singing, may help develop their social and emotional resilience.
- What is the best thing about your job?
I love working with people from different countries and cultures and different areas of expertise. I like making things happen and enjoy trying to get the best out of everyone to serve our common goals.
- Why did you decide to join Interland?
I had retired from the ‘day job’ of working in European and International Affairs and had been turning over in my mind the possibility of pursuing some research which would draw on my expertise and experiences in my previous work. I discussed the possibilities with Prof. Helen Higson who invited me to come along and find out more. I felt that I could use my knowledge of accessing EU funding to help members who were keen to explore EU research funding opportunities.
- What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently Project Manager of CITISPYCE, a three year transnational project funded under the EU’s R & D Framework 7 Programme for Social Sciences and Humanities. Involving a multi-disciplinary, transnational partnership comprising 7 universities, 3 municipalities and 3 NGOs in 10 member states of the EU, the CITISPYCE project seeks to examine the causes and symptoms of youth inequalities and to identify innovative ways in which disadvantaged young people may be overcoming these inequalities. The project aims to test the transferability of local models of innovative practice and develop new policy approaches that encourage social innovation of and for young people at EU, national and local levels.
- What achievements are you most proud of?
I am proud of having put together the partnership and the application for funding for CITISPYCE with my colleague Ajmal Hussain.
I am also proud of helping raise Birmingham’s European and international profile and being one of the ‘founding mothers’ of Eurocities, the network which champions the interests of major European cities with the EU and national governments.
- How do you like to spend your leisure time?
Since I was about 12, I have spent most of my leisure time involved in classical music as a performer (singer) or listener. I still love to sing, but I now spend more time on fund-raising and PR to support the continued development of Ex Cathedra, a professional choir founded and based in Birmingham which is committed to inspiring and developing the next generation(s) of singers.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you most like to have with you and why?
A first aid kit including antibiotics! (I’m bound to trip over or cut myself foraging for things)
A year’s supply of water purification tablets
A solar powered Tablet
- What would you like to achieve in the next year?
I want finally to make a start on my own research (Project Management has not left much space for this so far!) but also achieve a successful follow-up bid to Citispyce.