Given that my involvement in CF started in the East Midlands, I wanted to start my series on the State of CF there. It is also one of two regions I was given to oversee when I was elected to the National Executive in 2008, before the appointment of Regional Chairmen at the start of 2009.The other region I oversaw was Yorkshire and the Humber.
In order to find out how CF in the East Midlands was progressing I thought it best to ask the Regional Chairman himself. Thomas Turrell was elected last September, aged only 18, making him one of the youngest Regional Chairmen in the country. This raised a few eyebrows at the time, with some wondering whether he would be able to handle such a role at such an early point in his CF career. These fears were quickly and happily dismissed as Turrell swiftly asserted his own style onto the East Midlands.
Indeed in the many conversations that I had with prominent party activists in the aftermath of the last CF election, Turrell's name came up as “one to watch” and I kept hearing about his “promising start” as Regional Chairman.
The question that I now had to ask him was whether that promising start had delivered results and I was astonished with the answers that I got. Having lived in the East Midlands for four years, I knew how difficult Thomas' job was and would have been impressed with only some forward momentum. What we have now is a Region transformed.
Turrell's record for the past nine months is as follows:
Membership: Has trebled
Branch Development: 16 new branches have been set up, with the promise of more to come
Accountability: Thomas has pioneered the idea of a “Regional Congress”, a quarterly question time style session in which Area Executives can grill the Regional Executive on how it is working for them
Campaigning: Formed a stronger campaign machine empowering Area Chairman whilst providing regional support. Regional Campaign Days are held at least once a month but it is on a branch level where the campaigning efforts are really impressive. Most individual branches held additional weekly campaign days during the local elections.
Student Life: East Midlands CF is on target to have a CF branch in every university in the region
Young Professionals: has formed a partnership with CF North to provide high quality working life events outside of London
Whilst, I found all this impressive the thing that I found the most impressive was how willing Thomas was to point out that this was all made possible by the hard work of his Regional Committee as well as activists on a branch and area level. He had special praise for his predecessor Hamish Stewart who he says “couldn't have been better in the handover” and “laid the groundwork, for the recent success this team had enjoyed.”
With all that said I left my lunch with Thomas convinced that the State of CF in the East Midlands was the strongest it has been in years and that an even brighter future awaited it.