Volunteering for a season, not just springtime!

15th June 2022.

The buzz you feel and hear when you step into a weathered garden of a family centre at springtime and see the energy and enthusiasm of a team of volunteers bustling around doing all the things that we never get the time to do is uplifting. The grass is greener, the fence is brighter and there is always the sound of laughter during the day. As we wave goodbye to these talented, experienced professionals, gifted in many skill-sets that we have not yet had the chance to develop, we smile as the place looks great once more and we appreciate their time.

Yet – the very next day the grass starts growing again and we cannot see the wood for the trees with succession planning, our marketing and communication is in the wilderness and our funding pipeline is blocked with low hanging fruit.

Gardening is not my skill set. I have a fabulous little garden centre not far from where I live and love to see the banner outside saying Bedding Plants Ready and that is where my regular weekly visits start. Last year I walked around picking up various varieties of colours and shapes, asking as usual, what I really needed to do to get my garden to thrive. As I paid and put my purse away Martin (the gardener) lifted my box and put the plants straight into the bin, he said he would spare me the trouble of planting them!

The Enhance Programme from Lloyds Bank Foundation has shown that when we volunteer, sharing our skills whether professional or personal gifts is the most beneficial way of supporting small charities. When Faith in Families were offered the opportunity to join a programme where a team from Lloyds Banking Group would use its skills, knowledge, and insights to help tackle a thorny problem, we put on our gloves and got ready from some gritty work.

When you take part in experiences like this you never really know what you are going to be able to give to or get out of it. The very notion of it can be daunting for someone leading a small local charity that is faced with execs with the title Senior Manager at Lloyds Banking Group for Economic Crime Prevention or Conduct, Compliance & Operational Risk or worse Mass Affluent- what does that even mean?! I hoped I wouldn’t be a wallflower during our time together.

My Support team is fantastic, with a real vision to nurture the passion and commitment that my charity has in abundance, they could see the buds through the weeds. They didn’t beat around the bush and went straight into helping me prune back some deadwood that I hadn’t realised was getting in the way of growth. The strategic plan started to flourish, we sifted through the apples and oranges of our evaluation tools to have a clear communication plan, and we found ways to charm the birds out of the trees using a new succession scheme.

Faith in Families’ aim is to build brighter futures across some of the most challenging neighbourhoods in Swansea. After 22 years we are rooted in our communities. Last year we connected with over 2,022 children, 1,632 families, and developed new relationships with 1,247 individuals. We provided over 48,260 hours of affordable, quality childcare and have increased our bespoke intensive support with vulnerable children from 2,410 hours in 2020-21 to an incredible 6,360 hours of tailored, child-centred engagement with those facing mental health crisis, because it is what we are good at. It’s where we blossom. I am so excited to tell you next year what impact we have had – follow @FaithinFamilies to keep in touch – we have a great new communication strategy.

We nurture growth for our children and young people, cultivating fairer opportunities for individuals of all ages, especially during childhood, knowing that flowers of tomorrow are seeds of today.

Thanks to the skills based volunteering programme, to Daniel Binks, Debra Linge, Tom Wilkins and Maria Male their time volunteering with us, using their real skill set which will help Faith in Families through many seasons, not just one springtime #VolunteersWeek. As for my garden, well I still visit the garden centre most weekends, it is a work in progress – Martin allowed me to buy some hostas – apparently, they are indestructible!

If you have any skills that could make our fabulous little charity even greater

– please get in touch and help support an amazing charity in Swansea check out www.faithinfamilies.wales for various ways that you can help make a difference to thousands of children and families each year.

And if you are a small vital charity that can’t see the wood from the trees then Lloyds Bank Foundation can really enhance everything that you do.

At Faith in Families, we see the potential in every child. We know that with the right environment and support, every child can thrive and experience the childhood they truly deserve!

Giving these children the chance to play, be outdoors, and meet friends is incredibly important and something that they rarely get the chance to do. But with your support we can do so much more to make our city a better place for everyone to live, play, work and grow in Swansea.

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