Business & Volunteering-How they mix

Before I went into business I specialised in ‘Family Intervention’, working with families who had a variety of multiple and complex needs that impacted on their ability to parent. When I left employment in 2011 and became self-employed, I knew that I wanted to still be involved in something where I could use my family expertise. A colleague and very good friend of mine introduced me to a charity in my local area called Home start Newcastle Borough.

I had refereed into Home-Start Staffordshire many times whilst being in employment, but I had never worked with the local scheme Home-Start. Home-Start is one of the leading family support charities in the UK who help families with young children deal with the challenges they face.

I knew I had to be involved. Home-Start have an amazing accredited volunteer programme but with the business I knew that I couldn’t give that level of commitment week in week out, so decided to become a trustee. It was a way of giving something back locally, while using my expertise and making a real difference. I love being a trustee, not only am I helping others, selfishly (or maybe not?) it makes ME feel good and I feel that I am worth something outside of work, friends and family.

Being a trustee isn’t always easy, this does not mean that I just give up. Everything is workable if the passion is there. Below are the barriers that I have come up against and how I have overcome them:

Before I went into business I specialised in ‘Family Intervention’, working with families who had a variety of multiple and complex needs that impacted on their ability to parent. When I left employment in 2011 and became self-employed, I knew that I wanted to still be involved in something where I could use my family expertise. A colleague and very good friend of mine introduced me to a charity in my local area called Home start Newcastle Borough.

I had refereed into Home-Start Staffordshire many times whilst being in employment, but I had never worked with the local scheme Home-Start. Home-Start is one of the leading family support charities in the UK who help families with young children deal with the challenges they face.

I knew I had to be involved. Home-Start have an amazing accredited volunteer programme but with the business I knew that I couldn’t give that level of commitment week in week out, so decided to become a trustee. It was a way of giving something back locally, while using my expertise and making a real difference. I love being a trustee, not only am I helping others, selfishly (or maybe not?) it makes ME feel good and I feel that I am worth something outside of work, friends and family.

Being a trustee isn’t always easy, this does not mean that I just give up. Everything is workable if the passion is there. Below are the barriers that I have come up against and how I have overcome them:

Attending Trustee meetings:

We meet as a board of trustees on a regular basis, to make things easier we always book our meetings in advance so that they are in the diary for a full year. This means that when I am called out to do a piece of consultancy, I can give the scheme plenty of notice that I will not be able to attend and where necessary send in a report or my comments. This means that I can still be involved in decision making, policy reviews and general governance of the scheme without being present at every meeting.

Managing sub groups:

Each trustee leads a sub-group, these range from recruitment and selection right through to finance. I was initially the lead for ‘recruitment and selection’ but, the nature of our business means that this was becoming impossible. As much as I wanted to drive this forward, I simply did not have the capacity. Rather than resign I spoke to the chair of the scheme who supported me to find a new lead for my group and allowing me to still be involved. Sometimes, I attend when I am working locally, other times I will face time into the meetings and on some occasions I will send an update to the new lead.

Meeting in work hours:

Some meetings such as quality assurance meeting have to be held in the day. This can be a real issue for me. Again, all the meetings are in the diary and if I am local then I will start work early, nip out to the meeting and then work later that evening, careful planning means that I can do this, however when I can’t, again, I will send in a report and liaise via email or even Skype in.

Attending social events:

Some meetings such as quality assurance meeting have to be held in the day. This can be a real issue for me. Again, all the meetings are in the diary and if I am local then I will start work early, nip out to the meeting and then work later that evening, careful planning means that I can do this, however when I can’t, again, I will send in a report and liaise via email or even Skype in.