Bits and pieces
Bits and pieces

Bits and pieces

03/05/2022 (Staff Post - Alan McNiven )

Bits and pieces.

I’ve often thought about the range of work Engage Renfrewshire is involved in as being a real bonus. Each day can be different as it’s not unusual for us to be thinking about health delivery in social settings, new funding initiatives, employment supports, volunteering impacts and community integration all within the space of one meeting. For me this is one of the best things about the job I have – it’s challenging but it’s always changing, and I like that change is a constant. Change isn’t always easy of course, but hopefully with a willingness to try and perhaps some support we can often benefit from it. One of the big changes we all face is moving on from school and across Renfrewshire in the next few weeks young people will be making choices about what to do next. Deciding what you want to do for further learning, or a career isn’t always easy – I’m still trying to work out what I want to be…

I was lucky to get into a job training scheme within the arts straight from school which quickly became a fulltime job. I was looking to go to art school, but within a year, I was an arts supervisor – supporting young people who were only two years younger than me started – teaching folk how to do screen printing and design and stuff.  I got the job because every time there was something additional needing done I would volunteer. Occasionally that meant going to another bit of the crafts project when I was still a trainee - someone had phoned in sick, and I would be asked to supervise the trainees there. I guess I was quite keen.

Overall, it was a great first full-time job - doing art-based activities and we’d have the radio on most days while we worked. Wee bit of music on in the background still works for me… Every day on the radio there was a quiz - ‘Bits and Pieces’ - and we shout out the answers (as you do). The idea was they would play short clips of songs – amongst me and the trainees we would usually do well – someone would know the poppy one, somebody else the dance tune and I’d be left the punky noisy track - a broad church of experience is usually required right? Never did win a Radio 1 goodie bag right enough…

I loved the role of arts supervsior, but I decided to move on – keen to study I went on to do photography and film in Glasgow, I worked in a commercial design place, did design and photography for another company, made wedding videos, led some youth service stuff, set up gigs and festivals, designed record sleeves, worked in a musical instrument shop and a recording studio, helped out in a kitchen in a pub then behind a bar, got offered permanent jobs here and there…Bits & Pieces really…and then I got offered a full-time arts job in Paisley…but that’s a tale for another day.

So, in working out what I wanted to do I took up a variety of roles – sometime just to get the experience – and I’m pretty happy that ‘Bits and Pieces’ have made up most of my career path. For young people leaving school now there are so many options and that’s daunting – there is however lots of support and of course there’s time – time to start something, change, then start again.  If I was in the habit of giving advice(!) I would say ‘Give it a bash’ - it might not be the job for you, but every job provides experience and perhaps a little more clarity for what you might really want to do. Volunteer for things, put your hand up, say ‘I’ll do it’. Give it a bash…







Speak soon – all the best


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