Our stand-out individual supporter for this quarter, as voted by the fundraising team, is Stuart Bell. Stuart has been volunteering with us 2 days a week since March 2020 as a mentor to our business and communities execs on Corporate fundraising and raising awareness. He has also got involved with a number of our virtual events and challenges. As a result he himself has raised a considerable sum to help support us during this crisis.
Question and Answer session with Stuart
What have you been doing for St Basils since you started volunteering in March 2020?
- Took part in the ‘Bike 500 Beds Cycle challenge’ in April raising £1,860 https://www.givepenny.com/stuartbell_bike_500_beds
- Collected/delivered mobile phones to the Youth Hub
- Sourced some laptops for delivery to Digbeth
- Assisted Vanessa at the Youth Hub with some food deliveries out to 3 projects
- Sourced some food donations and sponsorship from Wing Yip
- Regularly posted /shared LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter SoMe posts
- Reviewed fund raising approaches/systems and suggested ideas on improving CRM processes
What have you enjoyed most?
- The cycling challenge came just at the right time in lockdown as it gave me a target to get out and exercise
- The food deliveries gave me the most personal satisfaction as it provided me with an opportunity to witness directly the great work St Basils are doing. I got to meet (at a social distance) 2 great young people, one of whom was a young mother.
How did you come to take on this role?
- Having recently sold a company and reducing my hours in the transition phase, I wanted to make good use of my available time. I put out an open question on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a local charity I could volunteer for. I was recommended to St Basils by a friend who had taken part in a couple of cycling events. He referred me to senior business and communities exec Sian Dhillon and she did an amazing job of explaining about the great work St Basils do. I didn’t need to look any further on who to support
Why did you want to get involved with St Basils?
- Having worked for 25+ years in construction software sales I have been fortunate enough following the sale of a business to take a short sabbatical from work. In this planned time away from work I plan to achieve a number of things; (1) study for a mini-MBA, (2) travel and complete some cycling challenges, and (3) do something positive to help a charity/the local community. COVID-19 has changed my very short-term horizon, I am limited on travel and cycling, and the mini-MBA is likely to move online. All this meant my energies could then be focused on supporting the local community.
- In addition, my head office is in Reading which has a significant homeless and rough sleeping issue in the town centre (local borough’s like Windsor push the problem away). I have regularly stopped and chatted, and occasionally bought food/hot drinks for these people. In 2020, it seems unfathomable that we as a developed society cannot offer support to one another.
Has this role helped you as well in any way?
- I explained to Sian and head of fundraising Barrie Hodge that (coinciding with the COVID crisis) volunteering with St Basils has allowed me to feel connected with the local community. Whilst I’ve been afforded the opportunity to fund raise during my 27 year career, these have been linked to single events and sporadic. Sian, Barrie and Vanessa have made me feel part of a team that has a real energy and passion for driving change and helping young people to have a better start in life.
How well do you feel you have been supported whilst volunteering at St Basils?
- Sian, Barrie and Anne in Fundraising and Vanessa at the youth hub have all been very generous with their time and support. Whilst the COVID crisis has presented its own issues with homeworking for the team, they have always persisted and made time for me when needed.
- Recognising my business skills, Barrie and Sian have been very transparent with the challenges the charity faces and have been very open to ideas and suggestions on continuous improvement.
- Sian in particular has been stoic – always keeping in contact even when suffering herself with COVID-19. This is a testament to her character, grit and determination to succeed.
Would you recommend volunteering at St Basils to other people?
- 100% yes – just this morning I reposted an emotive post from Barrie on Facebook encouraging support and challenging people to think about their time.
Comment from St Basils
- Sian Dhillon, Senior Business and Communities Executive said: “Stuart has managed to raise a considerable amount of money for us himself from taking part in our virtual challenges. He has secured funding and donations in some cases from his contacts. Alongside staff members he has also helped with physically distributing donations to young people living at our supported accommodation schemes. Stuart has also assisted with pro-bono operational consultancy and providing the exec’s with training and coaching in business development and sales. It has been wonderful to have this support from Stuart. He is diligent, hard-working and knowledgeable and has been a big help.”