WHPCA global advocacy director, Claire Morris, accepted to prestigious Clore Social Leadership Fellowship

Categories: Leadership.

The application process is highly competitive, and the Fellowship is designed to be a transformative experience for emerging leaders in the social sector. ehospice congratulates Claire on her selection.

Here Claire speaks to ehospice about the Fellowship and reflects on the past 10 years working in global hospice and palliative care.

What is the Clore Social Leadership Fellowship?

The Clore Social Leadership Programmes develop leaders with a social purpose so that they can transform their communities, organisations and the world around them.

It helps make social change happen by supporting and investing in people – people who they think can become leaders with the resilience, self-awareness and capabilities to tackle the social challenges of the 21st century.

Every year aspiring social leaders from across the UK apply to become one of the next Clore Social Fellows. 

The selected fellows attend residential courses, are allocated a mentor, have coaching, undertake a secondment, undergo a 360 review (where feedback is gathered from peers, managers, report and friends and family) and a practice-based research project, and take part in action learning sets.

The Clore Social Leadership Programmes believe that developing leaders with resilience, self-awareness and robust capabilities will make for stronger, better led organisations, and leadership that can transform lives.

Why did you want to do it?

Having worked on global hospice and palliative care for the last 10 years, I have learnt a significant amount through work I have been involved in and through collaborating with hospice and palliative care, global health, HIV, NCDs and human rights colleagues.

I feel that I have reached a point where it is time to reflect on what I have done and to learn more about the theory, skills and practice to create long lasting social change and how to make my work as effective, impactful and transformative as possible.

It is important for me to take some time to look at what I have done, how I have done it and what I could do better.

I also felt strongly that I needed to step outside of the palliative care world and look in from the outside. I want to reflect on the sector as a whole and the collaboration and partnerships we have with each other and with those working in the broader fields of health and development.

I am looking forward to learning from other fellows, as well as our mentors and coaches, to see things from a different perspective. 

I want to look at how collaboration in the social sector can work better, while avoiding some of the challenges, distractions and frustrations such as those that come with chasing funding or organisational politics.

I think that people working in the hospice and palliative care world are on the whole very passionate and committed people.

However, I’m not sure that face to face constructive criticism and challenging debates and discussions happen as much as they should. I am strangely looking forward to some tough constructive criticism and some debate!

What do you think is important in leadership?

The importance of authenticity rings true with me. I respond best to leadership driven by passion, commitment to the cause, enthusiasm, openness, the ability to listen and fairness. 

What I struggle with is the connection between leadership and power and how they intertwine. Recent research has suggested that power can induce a lack of empathy and also a tendency to act even if you have no control over the outcomes, thereby making the actions at best a waste of time and resources, and at worst damaging. 

For me, empathy and strategic analysis of action has to be core to leadership.

What have you enjoyed most about working on global hospice and palliative care?

The people. I have really enjoyed working with and learning from others.

Colleagues working for or with the WHPCA advocacy agenda past and present including, but not limited to: Nick Pahl, Sharon Baxter, Stephen Connor, Joan Marston, Jim Cleary, Avril Jackson, David Praill, Liliana de Lima, Liz Gwyther, Emmanuel Luyirika, Faith Mwangi-Powell, Kate North, Diederik Lohman, Liliana De Lima, Mike Podmore, Ben Simms, Rachel Albone and Mary Callaway.

Actually, there are too many to name!

I also have been fortunate enough to see and be inspired by the incredible work that is done with people living with life limiting illness on the ground.

Visiting a prisoner in the prison in Addis Ababa with Sister Tsigerada from Hospice Ethiopia was a very moving experience. As was going out with the home care team of Hospice Africa Uganda when I had just started at Hospice UK, seeing people and their families living with life-limiting conditions.

I have also worked on some amazing – and at times challenging – projects, including World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, the UN High level Meeting on NCDs and HIV, and the Palliative Care Toolkit.

Seeing the strong inclusion of palliative care within the NCDs political declaration, the Global Action Plan on NCDs and the monitoring framework was a highlight – even with the debate on the indicator that raged, and will continue to rage.

Also, it was great to see the inspiring events that came flooding in online from all over the world for the first World Hospice and Palliative Care Day in 2005.

One of the most surreal events was being at the High Level Meeting on HIV in New York and Hilary Clinton walking past while I was stood by Kathy Foley in a corridor. As Hillary Clinton walked past, she said: “Hello Kathy.” Ha!

What has been the most challenging aspect of working in global hospice and palliative care?

Advocacy relies on a united voice of those living with life-limiting illness, carers and those working on these issues.

Multiple and conflicting messages simply don’t work at critical advocacy points and we need to be able to see what a disjointed palliative care response looks like from the outside so that we can improve our approach.

Early interventions, travelling together on a journey and lots of relationship building from the beginning is vital to making that happen. While people chase funding, compete in an unhealthy manner and take personal issues to the table, we will never be as impactful as we could be.

I also feel that as a sector, those working in palliative care advocacy are not good enough by a long stretch in enabling and hearing the voices of people living with life-limiting conditions, who have experience of palliative care, and those who are involved in caring. This is challenging but those critical voices are often not around the table.

What palliative care leader is your inspiration?

I have a number of palliative care leaders who inspire me, but particularly it is those in isolated positions in developing countries, fighting to raise the profile of palliative care, to increase the availability of care and to build partnerships.

I particularly admire those who see the job as not being about them, being able to overcome their ‘ego’ to realise that actually sometimes other people can just do things better and the importance of strategic partnership.

I respect Gabriel Madiye for the way he has continued to battle through building up the Shepherd’s Hospice in Sierra Leone, faced by crises such as the civil war and, now, Ebola. The challenges he tackles are incredible in a country with a terribly weak health system and very low GDP. His commitment and passion is remarkable.

What could this fellowship mean for global hospice and palliative care?

I hope that that as the only international development fellow on the Clore Social Leadership Programmes this year, this opportunity will open doors and create new relationships which can benefit hospice and palliative care globally.

From funders to the private sector to the broader health and development sector, I hope I will meet more people who will become engaged on our journey.

The Clore Social Leadership Programme is all about supporting people to become leaders and taking them on a journey.

I hope that by the end of the journey, I will feel like a leader – not in the sense of being an ‘important’ person within a hierarchy – but in the sense of having a clear vision of how and where I can contribute, knowing my strengths and weaknesses, to work towards more people living with a life-limiting illness around the world having a better life and death.

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