What is the best thing about your role?
The amazing people that I get to work with at City Year UK. I have a fantastically close fundraising team who work hard, provide excellent support to our donors and methodically identify new potential partners and funders. Most importantly, though, we get on well and recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The wider staff team are also a great bunch, people who are really passionate about the work we do. However, the success of City Year all comes down to the amazing 18 to 25-years-olds who give a year of their time as full-time volunteers. They work in schools in areas of high social deprivation and support children who are really struggling and at risk of not achieving their potential. I never cease to be blown away by their energy and enthusiasm.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the sector in the year ahead?
Yet again the sector faces another potential risk linked to reputation. The recent allegations of the abuse of volunteers and vulnerable people both overseas and in the UK means that we must do everything we can to ensure our policy and practice protect the very people we are here to serve,and that we can reassure donors of this.
Would you like to see more done to support fundraisers? If so, what?
I would like regulation to work for fundraisers and not just be seen as a box we have to tick. We currently pay the levy but receive little benefit other than being able to publicly display this and provide some level of comfort to our donors. More should be done to improve the relationship between the regulator and the fundraising community.
How important are corporate partnerships and what can they offer a charity?
Our corporate partnerships form a key part of our voluntary income and our programme delivery. We are lucky enough to have been working with the likes of Credit Suisse (through its EMEA Foundation), TowerBrook and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for many years – and, more recently, with the DHL Foundation. They all provide significant funding to support our work, but alongside many of our other partners they also provide valuable support to our 18 to 25-year-old volunteers. They provide their own staff as volunteers to mentor them over a ten-month period; they offer skills workshops; they help to run our mock interview and CV advice days; and they provide inspiring individuals to talk about their career paths and encourage young people to consider their options for their futures.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I'm going to be greedy and choose two: precognition and healing. This would enable me to not only predict the future but also have the ability to heal the pain of serious illnesses. I'd be able to help eradicate some of the major issues affecting us globally, but it would also be extremely handy closer to home – I'm a busy working mum who often forgets to stock up on plasters and paracetamol when I need them most.