Dr Pauline Roche describes herself as an amplifier, producer, relationship broker and freelance journalist, increasing digital and data skills in small charities to build sustainability. She is and does all those things and so much more.
Currently a producer and co-presenter on the Dr Tech Show started by the late John Popham, host of Tech Talk on Hope Radio, and an award-winning producer, broker and journalist for Digital WM News, Pauline has been an Associate and Member of Shakti Women since 2007 and recently spoke at the launch event of our Pink Paper 2021 about the importance of data in the fight for gender equality.
Born to a middle-class white family in Ireland in the early 60s, Pauline became politicised when she moved to Birmingham and saw first-hand the oppression of Irish and other marginalised people. She fought hard to be taken seriously as a female organiser in the staunchly patriarchal, Irish community who were keen to protect themselves by promoting their culture and traditions. She persevered and became one of the key members of the Birmingham Irish Community Forum which relaunched the St.Patrick’s Day Parade that had come to a grinding halt in the aftermath of pub bombings in 1974.
She feels glad to be able to look back and think that she had some hand in encouraging changes, and she welcomes recent significant events like the Birmingham Irish Association’s celebration of St. Bridget’s Day and the Irish Embassy’s first Black History event.
Most recently she’s become the Chair of the West Midlands Funders Network, steering it from a voluntary group with no constitution to becoming a registered charity. Their mission is to provide a support network for funders in the West Midlands, helping them to work more effectively and increase their impact on people and communities.
“Some funders don’t always welcome new ways of doing things but we have had good engagement with[the] events that we run. We are starting to increase membership from local authorities and other funders in the region big and small like Heart of England Community Foundation, the National Lottery Community Fund and BBC Children in Need. Most of the funders with a big presence in the region are members.”
Pauline believes it would be valuable for funders in the West Midlands to make it known whether they’re interested in funding women-focused/led organisations and projects.
“Things go better when women are in leadership roles and when women’s leadership is supported by others.”
For women coming up in social entrepreneurship, community organising, writing and journalism, she stresses the importance of networks.
“My success has always been because I take part in lots of groups, including on social media. I help to run lots of different activities. I suppose if I was starting off again politically, I’d be looking at the all-party parliamentary groups for women because I believe that, politically, there are opportunities that we don’t always understand. Even if it’s just getting involved in a local campaign of some sort because you start to meet people who are like you and different from you and you can learn new things. It’s also about finding your niche. There’s a lot of us, including myself, who try to do too much and end up Select an area to comment on maybe not doing one thing really well, so I’d like encourage people to strip away the things that don’t “spark joy”. ”
She keeps coming back to networks though. Joining groups, she advises, will help you to find your circle–that is, the people who will have your back.
Blogging is another thing she encourages doing.
“I wish I had started [blogging] years before I did. It’s one of the things I’ve encouraged in Shakti Women forever. When I first started teaching women about Twitter and LinkedIn in the early days, I was saying[then] even if you write a paragraph every week on your LinkedIn, that’s a mini blog and I wish I had taken my own advice. I think it’s a great thing to do, even if it’s just for yourself to get your thoughts together about what you’re doing, especially in this last year--the more we know about this, and how we handled things, the better prepared we’ll be for the next time this happens.”
Ultimately, Pauline’s work is all about having a positive outlook. “I’m very happy that so many women have come into leadership and are in leadership positions around the world. It gives me great hope for the future. ”We want to thank Pauline for participating in the launch of the Pink Paper 2021 and being a long-standing ambassador of Shakti Women. This Doctor is most definitely in our circle.