Shining the spotlight on our lovely trainers, Ali and Janine, from The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), we hear what it’s like behind the scenes as they share their experiences of delivering our Beacon webinars and workshops.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves
Ali: From a background in marketing, I moved into the charity sector through volunteering as a mentor with the Small Charities Coalition. I enjoyed that experience so much that I decided to take a Masters in Charity Management, to branch out from marketing and to learn more about governance, fundraising and finance. I’ve since become a trustee and for the last year or so, I have been supporting small charities as a consultant and trainer through the FSI.
Janine: I’ve been working with Chairs and trustees of small charities for the past 8 years with the FSI. Prior to that I worked for a youth charity, and a local Council for Voluntary Service, and I’m also a trustee of a charity myself.
What have you most enjoyed about delivering the Beacon Programme?
Ali: I have really enjoyed meeting Chairs and Vice Chairs from across the country and seeing some returning for several workshops. It’s great to hear how Chairs have gone back to their charities and implemented some of the changes from the action plans they've made in the workshops.
Janine: The favourite part of my job has always been meeting the people involved in small charities - these are the people making the most incredible difference to the world we live in. I find their experiences and commitment utterly inspiring. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing Chairs come back from one workshop or webinar to another, dipping in to get the resources and support they need, when they need it.
What are the recurring themes you have seen come up in the workshops and webinars?
Ali: The recurring theme has been how great it is to meet other Chairs and Vice Chairs who are facing similar issues – it makes people feel less isolated, knowing that there are others going through some of the same things. It’s so encouraging when attendees are swapping their contact details at the end of the sessions to keep in touch, continue the discussions, meet up and support each other.
Janine: The need for Chairs to look after themselves, both when things are running smoothly and when they are more challenging. There is a saying that I have come across - ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ – and it is so true!
From speaking to Beacon participants, what impact do you think Beacon has had on Chairs and Vice Chairs?
Ali: It has given them tools and ideas to go back to their boards with. For many, it has provided a greater confidence that they are already doing so many good things, and a drive to go back and build on their success by implementing a few changes to make their boards even more effective.
Janine: First and foremost, not feeling alone! From what I have seen, Chairs and Vice Chairs come away with practical tips and actions they can take, but there are also all the benefits associated with meeting others and building a network of peers.
My advice to Chairs thinking about the programme would be to get involved! I guarantee even as an experienced Chair, you will come away having seen something from a different perspective or having had the opportunity to share your knowledge with others.