Karen Wynne was Liverpool World Centre’s lead for our Community work before recently taking on additional responsibilities as Co-Director. The change coincides with wider reorganising and repositioning at LWC and an expansion of our collaborative working model. Besides her responsibilities at LWC, Karen is also an artist, musician and activist and is involved with a number of community and arts organisations in Liverpool. It was high time we sat down with Karen to chat about how her role at LWC has evolved over the years. Read on for excerpts from our interview with Karen.
Q: When did you start working at LWC and how has your role evolved?
Karen: I started with LWC in 2016 as our Events Co-ordinator. At that point, for me it was a great part-time job with an interesting organisation that allowed me to continue my work as a community/arts producer and musician alongside. Initially, I was coordinating the team, leading communications, supporting finances and managing events, but it didn’t take long for me to get drawn into the world of global education. I’d already done loads of non-formal education work (in ESOL, music, community arts and more), and so it was a natural progression for me to start to lead on some of our non-formal work with adults and communities. LWC has been great like that, with my role adapting and shifting to accommodate my skills and helping me build new skills as I have wanted or needed to.
Q: What’s a typical day at LWC like for you?
Karen: Bonkers! I always wanted a job that never got boring, and working in the charity sector at grassroots level certainly delivers on that. Leading projects always means that you have to be on top of a range of coordination, supporting people and partners, managing budgets, marketing stuff, reporting and more. My new role as Co-Director just amplifies that, really. It’s great! I might be delivering participatory sessions for BA Education students at Liverpool Hope University one day, and planning funding applications and cashflow projections the next… Never a dull moment.
Q: Tell us about your current top favourite project
Karen: One of the projects that has really had a great impact on me has been DEPAL. Leading an Erasmus+ project brings its challenges, particularly managing international collaborations during a pandemic! At the same time, the project brought together participatory methods, creativity and storytelling, and digital work in such a special way. I learnt a load of new skills from our amazing partners in Ireland, Italy, Spain, Greece and the UK, and consolidated some existing skills. The chance to travel and exchange best practice with like-minded educators who come from a slightly different perspective and context is so enriching. I’m truly devastated that continuing these international partnerships has become so tricky, and that the UK ‘replacements’ for things like Erasmus just do not allow for the kind of non-formal community and knowledge exchange that we have done so much of over the past five years or so. On a plus note, though, I’ve got friends across the continent now so will never be short of holiday ideas…
Q: Can you tell us about one important connection you made during your time at LWC?
Karen: My work with LWC is constantly reminding me of how extraordinarily interconnected our world is, from people and places to our environment, both local and global. Taking notice and becoming empowered to take action (and hopefully empowering others) is such a powerful tool for feeling a sense of worth, a sense of community, a sense of belonging and a sense of power in the face of injustice. Community comes in so many forms, and I feel privileged to be part of many communities that LWC has brought me into contact with.