Community Rail Network jobs – head of communications and policy

Community Rail Network jobs – head of communications and policy

22 Dec, 2020

Employer: Community Rail Network

Salary: £35.5-37.5k pa, full time

Location: Huddersfield or home based

We are seeking a dynamic head of communications and policy, to lead a small team communicating with and inspiring community groups across Britain, and sharing their valuable insights via the media, and with policy and decision-makers. You’ll be helping communities to have a voice on sustainable and inclusive transport, while supporting positive grassroots change.

About us

The Community Rail Network is a national not-for-profit organisation supporting a growing ‘community rail’ movement, which helps communities get the most from their railways, promotes sustainable and inclusive travel, supports local development, and brings people together.

Spanning Britain, community rail is made up of 72 community-based partnerships, plus more than 1,000 station volunteer groups and social enterprises, striving to put railways and stations at the heart of communities. Their activities range from station-based arts projects for young people, to advising train operators on service improvements, to enabling groups with disabilities access rail travel, to promoting green tourism.

Our enthusiastic team of 16 is (usually) based partly in our Huddersfield office, and partly from home. We work together to support and advise our members, provide training, events and resources, and champion community rail and its unique insights. We believe in developing our staff and helping every member of the team reach their potential.

About this role

This role is being created as part of a reorganisation that will take us from two teams to three: support & development; comms, policy & resources; events, funding & admin. Heading up the second of these, as a member of our SMT, you will report in to our chief executive, working closely with her on strategic PR and policy, aiming to significantly raise the profile of community rail and providing insights on how we can make further progress on sustainable and inclusive transport. Alongside developing our media presence and external affairs, you will oversee a small team delivering member and online communications and producing research reports and resources.

Although we are all working from home currently, this team is based in our central Huddersfield office, so you will need to be able to travel to the office regularly, although we are flexible as to whether you will be mainly based from home or in the office.

Main responsibilities

You will work closely with colleagues and partners, and draw on our members’ experiences and ideas, to raise awareness about community rail and its insights, and put community rail at the forefront of the shift towards more inclusive and sustainable travel. This will include:

  • creating and overseeing delivery of a communications, policy and insights strategy, seeking to significantly enhance community rail’s reputation and get its messages out;
  • developing strategic media relations and working with the team to ensure regular, proactive media engagement at regional and national level, and support for members on local PR;
  • supporting the team to further develop our online presence and extend our reach, using our Scenic Rail Britain campaign, main website and social media activity, and developing creative campaigns that draw on community rail to promote rail as a community-minded, aspirational, green mode of travel;
  • working with the chief executive to further strengthen relationships and advisory work with government, including devolved/sub-national level, such as feeding in to consultations and discussions, enabling community rail’s insights and experiences to be used in advancing sustainable and inclusive transport, decarbonisation, levelling up, and tackling loneliness;
  • working with partners in rail, government and the third sector (such as our Sustainable Transport Alliance partners) to advise, and collaborate on positive communications;
  • ensuring ongoing development of evidence and insights on the value community rail delivers, relating this to social, environmental and economic development;
  • overseeing our work producing a growing range of high-quality resources, case studies reports and toolkits our members can use to enhance their impact;
  • contributing to the organisation’s leadership and development as a member of the senior management team, including playing a key part in our annual planning cycle, liaising with funders, upholding and helping to periodically review our top-level strategy, and identifying and pursuing opportunities for continuous improvement.

Skills and competencies

  1. Strong leadership and management skills, including experience in managing, developing and drawing on a multi-faceted team, and budget management;
  2. Excellent communication skills, articulate, assertive, and with the ability to work diplomatically and persuasively with stakeholders at all levels;
  3. A proven track record in working with the media and successfully gaining proactive coverage, ideally at national as well as regional level;
  4. An understanding of public affairs, ideally in relation to community development, sustainability or transport, and a demonstrable ability to deliver thought leadership and engage with policy- and decision-makers;
  5. A good working knowledge of communication and marketing methods and channels, and able to oversee messaging and targeting of public and professional audiences;
  6. Ability to think analytically and draw on statistical and qualitative research to construct robust, evidence-based arguments;
  7. Experience working collaboratively and forming professional networks;
  8. Excellent organisational skills, with the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines while dealing with competing priorities;
  9. Politically astute, with awareness of social inclusion, community development and sustainability, and the importance of transport to these agendas;
  10. IT literate with a good working knowledge of Office, the internet and social media.

To apply

Email by 6pm, Monday 11 January 2021 with two attachments: your CV and a covering letter of up to two sides of A4 summarising why you are the ideal person for this job  and your relevant skills and competencies. Please include a daytime phone number.

First interviews take place on Thursday 21 January on Zoom or Teams. Candidates shortlisted for interview will be contacted by phone about a week before this. Due to our limited resources, we are unable to provide feedback to candidates who are not shortlisted. 

Other information

We are flexible whether you will be home-based or based in our Huddersfield office when it reopens. However, you will be managing a team based in Huddersfield, and expected to travel meetings and events in various locations by train, including some out of hours working and overnight stays, so good transport links are important, as is a flexible approach.

This is a full-time position, 37 hours per week. We use a flexi-time system, with the core hours 10.00am-3.00pm, and we are committed to being a flexible, supportive and understanding employer. This is a permanent position with a probationary period of six months.

Community Rail Network is an equal opportunities employer.

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