Lewis Bird - Active Lives Officer

Lewis BirdTell us about yourself 

I’m a recent graduate from the University of Bath, with a keen interest in sport, both as a competitor and a spectator. I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to continue my personal interests into my professional life, working to improve the sport and physical activity opportunities for those with additional needs in the Swindon community. I’ve had some very positive influences over the years, with a mother who has instilled the empathic outlook I have, that I believe has led me to be successful in my career choices so far, and a father who’s ambition to be recognised as the best in his field throughout his long and successful years in the military, both in the UK and now overseas in the United Arab Emirates, has always inspired me to continue to deliver above and beyond expectations and always to be adaptable in changing situations.

What attracted you to join SBC?

I have been gifted numerous opportunities over the years either through voluntary work or placements during my time at university. It felt right to continue to offer my service to an organisation that has offered me so many experiences over the years. I believe my job role is truly unique and when the position became available within the Community Health and Wellbeing team it felt like I had come full circle; from volunteering on disability sports sessions 10 years ago to being formally employed full time to lead and develop community wide inclusion projects to help improve health provision for those with additional needs. I was also attracted to join SBC for the chances to grow professionally, my management team have been incredibly supportive of me taking on new qualifications to enhance my skillset, where I now deliver Connect 5 training, an early intervention for having conversations about mental health, and also the experiences within the wider public health team, engaging in conferences, speaking events and forums. The opportunities are there within Swindon Borough Council if you are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and actively seek out continuation in professional development.

What do you most enjoy about working here?

The team that I work within are one of the best bits about working at Swindon Borough Council. I work in a team of likeminded individuals where we are able to bounce ideas off of each other and generally support each other through our work challenges and successes. I also very much enjoy the responsibility and autonomy I am trusted with by my manager, who fully trusts that I will perform the job above and beyond his expectations and continue to come up with new ideas and ways to move the service forward.

Describe a typical day in your role

There is no such thing as a typical day in my role, I’m encouraged to be dynamic, adaptable to change and ready to meet the demands and expectations of the clients I work with. More often than not I’m out in the community, ensuring our sessions are delivered to the highest quality. I will be meeting stakeholders, challenging them and developing new opportunities for people with additional needs to take part in mainstream leisure settings. I will be present in special education schools and day centres making sure that we are reaching as many new clients as possible, whilst always networking within the community, boosting the profile of our programme. On top of this, a vital part of my role is the monitoring and evaluation of the programme, collecting data to prove the value of the project and its impact on the lives of the service users. 

What motivates you at work?

My motivation is twofold: To ensure that I’m constantly working towards our clients having the most rewarding and best experiences we have to offer and to ensure that I am always developing as a professional and being able to adapt to the needs and demands of my team.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I currently compete for Swindon Shock Wheelchair Basketball Club as an able bodied competitor, the sport pushes my technical knowledge and physical limits in a sport that I never knew existed a number of years ago. We compete in the second highest tier in Division 1, where we are up against some incredibly tough level competition week in week out.

I’ve also recently started training in triathlon, coming from a background of years of running, I’m now keen to push my fitness by adding two new disciplines that I’m finding not only challenging but an increasingly expensive hobby.

One of my greatest pleasures is from listening to music and learning the history of music. I feel as though I was born in the wrong era, having a keen interest in UK garage music from the 90s and early 00s, and also Hip Hop from the same era, with its iconic rhythm and sounds influenced from jazz and popular local music from the areas in which they arose from.

Where is the best place you have visited?

In 2017 I was lucky enough to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with one of my closest friends. The country of Tanzania was rich in wildlife, community and adventure and the climb over the course of the week saw views that I dare say I will likely never see again. As a mountain that offers a multitude of different environments, we were able to experience a whole host of different views, sights and climates on our journey.

Who are your dream dinner guests?

Barack Obama, Mo Farah, Wiley and Louis Theroux.These are in no particular order, I feel as though I would cover all crucial areas of interest such as politics, sport, music and human behaviour. How these people would interact around a dinner table we’ll never know, but I’m sure the conversation would never dry up.

What is your favourite film or book and why?

This is always a tough question and changes weekly, but it would probably have to be Trainspotting. It’s harrowing, eye opening, hilarious and in my opinion Ewan McGregor’s best performance to date. I’d recommend this film to anyone.

What are your ambitions/aspirations?

To continue to provide opportunities and life enhancing experiences for people furthest away from sport and physical activity. From a more personal challenge perspective, I’d love to climb some more of the world’s summits, cash flow pending of course!