The Insight: Parkride, People & Purpose

Midland Mencap is one of the region’s leading learning disability charities with a strong, respected and established reputation for excellence and innovation. Employees span across the West Midlands, with a vast variety of roles and daily routines. No two days are the same and neither are the positions we offer here.

The vision of our Job Insights monthly blog is to give employees and roles a chance to educate, explore and celebrate all the hard work we know they do. It aims to allow roles that, if you didn’t know were there, wouldn’t necessarily be known about. We hope you’ll come away with a better understanding of who exactly makes up the amazing Midland Mencap team.

This month we’re starting with Pam Johnson, our Operations Manager of External Relationships and Parkride. You may know Pam from our Parkride sessions, meetings with various external partners or stakeholders, or even when she went away with the Midland Mencap Flyers a few years ago. But if you don’t know Pam and all that she does, we thought we’d invite you to gain a better understand into her and her role with us at Midland Mencap.

What exactly does ‘Operations Manager of External Relationships and Parkride’ do?

According to Pam, the role is split between two parts; the first being to work within the 7 local authority areas, alongside the West Midlands Combined Authority, building relationships with key stakeholders. This often includes local authorities and council, public health, NHS and voluntary organisations. The aim is to connect those stakeholders to Midland Mencap, allowing Pam to be an advocate for all that we do, raising our profile and awareness to even more people.

The second part to Pam’s job is to lead the Parkride team, which offers accessible and adapted cycling. Growing enormously over the last 18 months; we’re now part of 4 local authority areas and an ever-expanding fantastic team. Parkride engages with over 350 individuals through the project across various sessions. It’s safe to say it keeps Pam (very) busy!

The question is – was this always where she thought her career would lead to? Pam explained, “when I first started I hadn’t really put them into ‘boxes’; I just wanted to work with people…with Learning Disabilities”. From a placement to a long-stay institution, to pursuing a career in nursing that eventually didn’t work out. Pam began working at Royal Mencap in 1987, working there for over 26 years. Working in numerous roles over time, eventually a role led her to work alongside local groups, one of which being Midland Mencap. Little did she know that not long after leaving Royal Mencap, her now-position would be offered to her – 7 years on, Pam is on the Senior Management team and busy as ever!

That busyness can come in the form of emails, meetings with Midland Mencap staff and external partners. Topics range from marketing strategies to discussions around the adaptations of low-rise buses in cities across the West Midlands. Most recently, Pam has been working alongside those involved in the Commonwealth Games, with the aim of ensuring inclusion and accessibility for those with Learning Disabilities.

Whether it’s working to promote Parkride to other local authorities, supporting families and the team she leads, Pam believes her job is “being around people, about being a good communicator. It’s about having an understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.” As an organisation, Midland Mencap believes our success is down to listening. Listening to our citizens, their families and carers. We shape and design quality services by listening and responding to what people tell us. Pam’s role is an integral part of that process.

That isn’t to say there aren’t any difficulties that appear along the way. With only so many hours within a working day, time can escape – particularly when confined to Zoom/Teams calls! Pam discussed that being “physically in a building with somebody…being able to read their body language to see whether they are fully engaged” can impact the building of relationships – both on an organisational and external level.

Pam’s role and journey at Midland Mencap has brought her highlights of supporting Midland Mencap’s Flyerz hockey team at their international tournaments; “there is no better feeling than when they walk(ed) out onto that pitch and they (were) representing England at a competition level.” Similarly, her pride extended to being part of the on-going success and development of the Parkride project.

Can or will that excitement continue over the next 5 years? Pam thinks so! Aside from seeing the progression of her role as a whole, being able to witness the “fruition” of “(getting) more services in other areas” and making “Parkride the leading accessible cycling (project)” are all in her sights.

Overall, Pam’s heart is for the families, the carers and the amazing people with Learning Disabilities that we support every day. Whether that be through the Parkride project, building the confidence and abilities on a bike, or advocating for those that we support in every local authority in the West Midlands, Pam’s role is far reaching and ever-developing. We can confidently say we’re mighty grateful to have Pam and everything she does!

Look out for more Job Insights blogs coming your way.

If you would like more information on the Parkride project, see here:

If you’d like to support the work Pam and the wider Midland Mencap team does, you can get involved in our Sutton Park Challenge in October 2021. Sign up here!

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