Alex at London Borough of Sutton

The NGDP gives me the opportunity to experience so much of what working in local government has to offer: it's giving me the chance to really understand where I want my career to go.

I started at the London Borough of Sutton in October 2013 and am enjoying everything about working at the Council and being on the NGDP. My first placement was within the Chief Executive's and Resource's Directorates and my second has been within the Children's Commissioning Team.

During my first placement I worked on strategic commissioning initiatives aiming to change the way the Council works. LB of Sutton is a commissioning Council and a lot of my work was developing a number of citizen commissioning pilots. These pilots supported local residents in participating in the Council's commissioning work. My favourite part of this work was developing a group of ‘Young Commissioners', who are a group of teenagers who have been trained in commissioning skills so that they can work with Council staff. The Young Commissioners make sure the services being commissioned by the Council really do meet the needs of young people. It amazes me the impact these young people have had in changing the mind-set of very experienced Council staff.  

My second placement within the Children's Commissioning Team is allowing me to get first-hand experience of what the commissioning of services really means. It's not just paying somebody to do a job because you don't want to do it. You really have to know what you want the service to provide and what outcomes you want to achieve.

Being able to experience commissioning, both strategically and operationally, has given me a firm idea of where I want my career to go: the commissioning of Council services. I left university in 2009 and I only know now what I want to do with my career – the NGDP has helped me discover this be given me experience in a variety of different areas in a very short space of time. 

Being part of the NGDP is rewarding because I share my learning and development with so many other people who are having similar experiences all around the country. I learn from what they do well and from what they find challenging. I also feel just as supported by LB of Sutton. The Council is very keen for me to take advantage of the learning and development opportunities that are available, as well as supporting me in fulfilling my career potential.

From a personal perspective, I find being part of the scheme rewarding because there are not many people with disabilities working at this level of local government – I am severely visually impaired and use very strong magnifiers to read and magnification software to use a computer. Succeeding on the NGDP helps to show others that it is possible to develop a career in local government no matter what barriers they may have to overcome.