Leadership in Action - personal reflections

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Leadership in action personal reflections.

Over the summer I had the pleasure of working alongside Bernicia housing.

In their own words, Bernicia believes in helping people and believe that begins with housing people. They aim to provide affordable, quality houses that are energy efficient and secure. They are also working towards a more environmentally sustainable future and strive to ensure that domestic heating remains affordable for their tenants as they transition to low carbon options.


In this blog, I will share my experience of working alongside Bernicia to assess the social and environmental implications of affordable heating systems and reflect on some of the challenges I have faced along the way. I will also discuss how the experience has improved my leadership development and helped develop my abilities into that of a promising future leader.

 My summer project involved interviewing and collecting data on nine households throughout Northumberland based in Bernicia homes. This entailed designing and conducting face-to-face interviews in a social and ethical manner. Initially, I was very anxious about conducting research in an environment entirely unfamiliar to me. However, I was able to overcome these anxieties around a new situation and embrace the growth provided by stretching myself out of my comfort zone. This helped demonstrate to me the importance of confidence and resilience in leadership, as I knew I had the ability to complete the project but needed to work on my confidence in myself to get out there and conduct the project!  I am now writing a report on the data found in this investigation, with the aim to inform heating policy decisions within Bernicia and beyond. This project has evolved in directions entirely new to me, such as understanding how people’s personal situations can heavily modify their ability to use and benefit from newer, more efficient heating systems, such as air source heat pumps. Whilst I am used to discussing social concepts in an academic setting, this project has adapted my skills to the ‘real world’ and I am confident that the experience has improved my skills as both a researcher and a future leader. Conversing and interviewing such a range of people in a leadership setting is such a valuable skill and I believe I have developed essential resilience and adaptability through doing so. The research gathered in this leadership project will hopefully improve how heating systems are proposed and explained to social housing residents and make a real positive impact on livelihoods.

Working alongside Bernicia has demonstrated to me the importance of compassion, resilience, and the ability to adapt to changing situations. I have also developed practical skills such as interview planning and report writing but most importantly the leadership in action project has demonstrated to me that I have the ability to lead a project confidently and that anxieties around meeting new people and new situations must never hold me back.

 I am very thankful to Bernicia, Laidlaw and Durham University for all their support and help in guiding me to become both a researcher and a compassionate leader of the future.



Abbie Cockerton

Undergraduate Scholar , Durham University

I am a geography student interested in climate change and the environment. My research project focuses on the oceans and using knowledge of past climatic changes to better predict and model future changes with a particular focus on the Agulhas current.