Chief Executive's blog: October

Chief Executive Rosemary Macdonald looks back at the past month

THE highlight of the past month for me has been the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s annual celebration in Salisbury.

We chose to hold the event at the Arts Centre in Salisbury because we wanted to support the city after the terrible six months it has had to endure and also, because of the big geographical area we cover, we like to move it around so that as many people can come as possible.

Last year we were in Swindon and next year we’ll be looking for a venue in the middle of the county. We also like to meet as many new people as possible and for that reason it was lovely to see the Mayor of Salisbury Cllr Mike Osment and his mayoress Nicki Savage there.

The arts centre is a fantastic building and the stained glass windows help create a marvellous atmosphere. The catering was very good, and I think everyone enjoyed being there.

It was particularly pleasing to have nine of our One Degree More students there to help us celebrate the tenth anniversary of the programme. It helped fund their studies and it was lovely to hear they are doing so well. To hear from them about what a difference the funding had made in their lives was just so powerful.

It was such a treat to hear mezzo soprano Clover Kayne sing and writer Tessa Duell perform one of her poems. Their talent added an extra dimension to the proceedings.

A nice little twist was that our marketing assistant Rhianna Selkridge-Carty, who organised the event, is also a former One Degree More student.

The celebration is important because it gives us a chance to say thank you to people. We have a lot of supporters out there who put in money, time, and advocacy for us and it’s an opportunity to just say ‘thanks very much’.

It gives us the chance to highlight other groups so the event is not all about us. We had representatives from Carers Support and Youth Action Wiltshire there and we gave a platform to Wiltshire Creative to allow them to talk about their work. The night showcased how much more effective it is to work in partnership than trying to work alone.

 

WE are saying goodbye to Jonathan Whitehead Whiting, one of our very valued members of staff who is leaving after four-and-a-half-years with us. He has been running our One Degree More programme and our education grants programmes and he has shown such care and support for the young people he has helped.

He is very good at what he does and as far as the young people go, he has been a bit like a godfather to them. He’s there if they want to talk and he’s interested in their welfare but he’s also not afraid to chase them for a monitoring form if he needs to. He keeps them to task but he’s very patient with it.

He’s been a wonderful member of the team and he’ll be very much missed.

 

THIS coming month we launch our annual Surviving Winter campaign, which provides £300 grants to people living in fuel poverty to help them with their bills.

This time around we are taking a more innovative approach to the fundraising as we are working in partnership with a number of businesses, including Wadworth, who will be donating proceeds from the sales of some of their beers and Walter Rose & Son who have produced a special fundraising Winter Warmer sausage.

There are a few more partnerships in the pipeline too. I hope everyone will support these businesses during November and December when buying their beer and bangers because it will be supporting our appeal.

Like every charity we are constantly looking for new ways of engaging with people. If you do the same old, same old, you get a diminishing return. Charities need to be nimble on their feet and they also need to take their head out of the sand.

I’m really interested in the sustainability of charities. A group that relies on a single source of income and then finds that income is threatened can discover their whole operation is built on sand. They can easily end up needing a miracle to happen in order to keep them from closing.

You don’t ever want to get to that point so it’s about making sure you have diversified income streams and it also looking about constantly looking at yourself and re-packaging what you do to ensure it is feels relevant and vital. You need a banner overhead, a rallying point that convinces people that your cause is important. If you create enough noise, people get behind you.

 

ASIDE from the annual celebration, the thing that has given me the most pleasure this month was being privileged to be at the installation of the Very Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos at Salisbury Cathedral.

As a lay canon, I was able to process in my robes and just to be part of it was incredibly humbling. It was an amazing, emotional occasion and I wish Nick the very best in his new role

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
5 + 7 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.