What is it about the voluntary sector that drives you?
Working in Stoke on Trent for five years supporting groups was a privilege. The people were so welcoming! I’d spent more than five years living abroad, so settling back down was a bit of a struggle. The people I met and the time they gave was astounding and so my love affair with the voluntary sector began.
Who are the ‘stand-out’ people who’ve influenced you?
Frank at Tai Chi for Health – what a star; I couldn’t help but love the way he wanted to help others. It was infectious.
Jane at Schools Out Club – the way she grew a thriving social enterprise. Her magical skills in motivating others was inspiring, and a beacon example of tireless selflessness.
John at Holden Lane Residents Association – together we got that playground up in the end! His absolute dedication to supporting everyone in the community is amazing.
I could go on listing group after group which inspired me. I wish I could give a shout out to all the groups I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. I’m doing my best to find them on Twitter.
So, you’ve found your vocation?
Why would anyone not want to work in this field, when you get to work with the nicest people you could ever wish to meet? So yes, I would second that. After some 5 years I took the plunge and went on to work for a national charity ContinYou, driven by the great experience here gleaned here in Stoke.
What was different about the national charity experience?
A lot! This time I worked across a huge area covering the West and East Midlands and the South West. One day I could be in Lincoln working with Inam from Arabic School for All and Klaudia from Boston Polish Saturday School to name but two. The next day I’d be in Birmingham with Karen from Ishango or Sendadin from Bosnian Supplementary School in Coventry. Then I could be in Bristol with Kweku or Irem in Milton Keynes.
What were your key learning takeaways from this experience?
There were so many – too many to state here. But I suppose the standout ones were what I learned about perseverance, hardships and many new cultures whilst working with supplementary schools.
What happened next?
When the funding for the role ended and ContinYou ceased to be, the project went on to become an independent charity. The National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE) then approached me to become a trustee and I was only too glad to continue to help.