Advita Patel: What Northern Power Futures means to me…

When I was asked to write a few words on what the Northern Futures means to me I must admit I struggled, not because I didn’t know what to write but I felt that my words may not translate clearly into the passion I have for this organisation.

I’ve lived in Manchester most of my life. I was born in Bolton but grew up in Manchester, so I genuinely feel like a true ‘northern’ soul. I can’t say that I’ve always been in love with the North of England, I had a difficult time during my teenage years and everyday I wished I was somewhere else. This was mainly due to being reminded daily whilst growing up that I was ‘different’ from my community and that I didn’t belong – so for many years I felt isolated and a bit lonely wondering if I’d ever feel part of a community again.

However, things changed for me as I grew older and I started to gain some confidence in myself, especially when I started meeting people who I could relate to, who shared the same aspirations and ambitions as me. I realised at this point that the North West of England had much more to offer me than the small snippet I’d seen growing up. I fell in love with vibrancy, the people, the culture and most of all the passion – whether it’s for football, music, art, food or fashion – one thing is for certain – we don’t do things by half.

When I decided that I wanted a career in comms the first question that was asked was ‘Well when are you moving to London?’ I was quite taken aback as it didn’t even cross my mind to leave my hometown. People kept warning me that if I wanted to grow and succeed then I couldn’t do it in the North. From that point on it became my personal quest to make it work for me up here and prove to people that you can have a successful career without having to uproot your life.

Then a couple of years ago, through my good friend Gemma McCall, I was introduced to the Northern Power Women. It was at this point I knew I’d found my calling in life – which I know sounds dramatic and a bit of a cliché but being surrounded by strong independent women (and inspiring men) with a sense of purpose gave me more determination and empowerment than ever before to succeed.

Earlier this year I was named on the Future List which is an accolade I am fiercely proud of (after a bit of a wobble with imposter syndrome – read more here). The work that Simone and the team are doing to raise awareness of voices in the North is just awe-inspiring. That’s exactly what this Northern Futures Festival is about in November. It’s about giving voices to ordinary people like me a chance to make a difference, and work together with like-minded people to bring our views forward, so we can start to show the rest of the UK that we truly are a PowerHouse.