Meet the team: Nathan Culkin

Hi I’m Nathan and I’m a Community Builder for Shift. Read on to find out what my role is all about.

On a typical day, where might we find you?

It would be difficult to say really, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day in our work. I like to spend as much time as possible in Carr Vale and New Bolsover – spending time at the Community House, visiting people’s houses and getting to know the community better. Sometimes it’s good to have a walk around the area – there are a few small shops and businesses and it helps me to understand what is going on. There are also some lovely trails, nature reserves and areas of natural beauty which are great for visiting when the weather permits.

What brought you to Shift?

My love of sport inspired a career change when I was in my late twenties and I particularly wanted to make a difference at grass roots level. I started off doing lots of voluntary work and coaching, and in 2012 I completed a degree in Leisure Management and Sports Development. I applied for numerous positions within the company and I finally got my chance when a part-time role became available working in North East Derbyshire. I’ve now been here for five years, currently working full-time in Bolsover. There have been many changes in the way we work, but I have enjoyed learning and developing as I’ve gone along

What’s it like working in Bolsover?

I love working in Bolsover and have a real affection for the place and the people going back a number of years. History is important to people and I have had to learn a lot about coal mining and the lifestyle which went with it. The communities I work in have not always had the best reputation, which is not helped by the media and statisticians who seem determined to judge people and places by their deficits. I believe a lot of this is unjust and have met some wonderful people and worked with some amazing groups. There is a strong culture of deficit focused working within Bolsover, and Derbyshire as a whole, but we are working hard to change this….and starting to see progress.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Personally, I feel very lucky to have a job which I enjoy and care about. The flexibility allows me to work in a way that suits me, maximising productivity, which in turns brings about the best results. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, this has all been important for my health and has allowed me to continue working even through my hardest moments.

In an ideal world, what would the future look like?

Our work is about transformation and change, and I would love to see a day when this has happened in a big way. People would have greater control over what happens, and everybody has the opportunity to fulfil their talents, act upon their passions and share their skills. People would be happier, healthier and less dependent on public services. We are often reading and hearing about hospitals closing and services being cut due to lack of funding. I would love to see a day when these same things are happening because they weren’t needed.

What’s your favourite hobby?

I love playing the guitar and am currently really in to playing blues and developing my skills on the electric. I have been dabbling on the acoustic for 20 years, playing easy songs by the likes of Oasis and the Beatles, and I also know several Irish folk songs which is the music I grew up on. In the last two years I have started to take it more seriously, learning the theory behind the music and learning songs by ear as opposed to searching for chords on the internet. In addition to playing, I am also in the process of building myself a custom electric guitar which is taking a lot of research, time and effort but I am confident that when it is finished it will look and sound amazing. All I’ll need then is someone who can play!

What’s your favourite place?

There’s no place like home.

What’s your favourite quote?

‘When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea’

If your colleagues could describe you in a few words what would they say?

Passionate, supportive and a little bit grumpy!


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