The confusing thing about charitable work…

Hi lovely people,


I felt compelled to write this blog, which is a new one to be honest – I’m usually too busy to even consider such things and try and thrash one out only when absolutely necessary for the Community Interest Company I run.  However, today has felt slightly different and I need to share what I’ve learned about the world of non-profits, or profit-for-purpose as I prefer to call them.

I woke up today feeling anxious.  I have numerous deadlines at the moment, 5 over the coming month including two university assignments, our first Probation project due to commence, Prison industry to co-ordinate, supply and manage as well as the volunteers, new recruits, and general advertising, book-keeping, paperwork, safeguarding, networking and day-to-day running of The New Leaf Initiative CIC.  We have our official launch event booked for the 5th of May at the Impact hub and the creation of New Leaf Employment Solutions to get underway.  It’s a lot as you can see, but i’m not moaning – I’m simply realising something.

I became self-employed so that I could pick my Son up occasionally from school, be in charge of my own destiny and live the dream which for me, is making some kind of a living from helping people who want to turn things around.  And that’s where the Dichotomy lies.

Things are busy, to say the least, and the only people who suffer is my child and service users as well as the volunteers who give up their free time to help people out of the goodness of their hearts and the pain from their own pasts which give them the drive to do so – Hurt people Hurt people, and Changed people Change people.  That is what I truly believe and am finding through this work and the outcomes we are achieving.  But those results are coming at a cost – In wanting to grow New Leaf in order to help more people, I run the risk of losing touch with the very people I started the service for; my Son and the Prisoners and ex-offenders who have had enough of the vicious cycle.

Paperwork, spending hours and days bid-writing, to then lost by a whisker is all pretty demoralising stuff, and it’s easy to get bogged down with the weight of it.  And I was starting to today.

And then I read the story of Myron, the young man who was stabbed in London.  He was talented apparently, funny.   People seemed to like him, he had no parents, only siblings to  raise him.  I was stabbed as a teen on the school bus, by a very close friend of mine, and one of my young mentees had recently survived a knife attack on the bus by another angry youth.  Our kids are angry.  They are Angry at the lack of opportunity they see before them, the lack of caring and support they receive from society, angry at the abuse they’ve suffered when no-one heard them crying at night, angry that no-one understands that they don’t know how to be any other way, angry at the fact that no-one can see they are all good people deep down, angry that no has time for them…Time.

So the article about the boy who lost his life on the streets of London, and the story closer to home of the young man I work with who almost lost his life on the bus made me realise, I don’t want to sit in my office, writing the £100,000 bid that won’t write itself.  I don’t want to be immersed in my computer or phone all the time,  I don’t want to always have the feeling of impending doom with multiple, impossible deadlines.  I want to do what I set out to do.

So today, I’m not giving into the overwhelming paperwork or deadlines or emails.  I’m going to see the young mentee who is having an operation to bring back the feeling in his arm since the knife attack.  I’m going to pick my son up from school and have some quality time with him for a few hours while we prepare for his birthday tomorrow.  I’m going to focus on my real priorities.  Because that’s what makes me happiest and when your body is telling you ‘no’ through anxiety which floods your veins, or anger or fear – it’s time we started asking ourselves the question; What do I really want and how do I feel about what I am currently doing?  If the answer is out of alignment with our life amibitions, we need to adjust things slightly.

Click this link for Our Film for the Peoples Projects, 2016 which shows a little about the important work we can do to inspire and support change.  As an MD torn constantly between taking the business forward into sustainability in order to help more people and actually working intensively with the same people who need our time, it’s a tough call on which is the most important.  On the days like today however, when the weight gets too much, it’s important to take it back to the grassroots of New Leaf, why it all began and why it will continue to thrive.  SO I hand the paperwork over to a higher power, release myself from the guilt and panic, and get out to be with the guys who need me – the mentees and of course and above all else, my beautiful child.  Don’t want him ending up as another ‘forgotten one’ after all…

Big Love, Always xx

2 Replies to “The confusing thing about charitable work…”

  1. I worked with homeless people for ten years, worked my way up from volunteer to operations director. I am telling you this because on the way up I got so bogged down with meetings paper work applying for funding etc, I was asked once to spend time going back, doing some shifts in the hostels, I resented the time I had to give up to do it, far too busy with paper work, etc, when I did go back it made me realise I should of stayed where I was, on the coal face, front line of the service, where I felt of most value. Being at the top is lonely, and other important people miss out on you! Like your children, your family. When I got back to my office I got hold of my diary and blocked days and sometimes a whole week off to do things like go home early, spend more time in the hostels that sort of thing. Marie Claire, what you are doing and giving to others and the service you provide is vital to the people you provide for, it is a life line for them and an opportunity to change, this can only be done if you look after and take care of yourself, the guilt drifts away when you realise the need for “me time” is part of how I plan to be the best mom, the best service provider. Get your dairy out girl, and block those days out!!!! Be kind to yourself!!! I am proud to know you.

    1. Sally,
      Thank you so much for those kind words. Not just kind but wise too.
      I will definitely heed your advice and be more gentle and giving to myself in order to be the best person I can be in this life.
      Thank you for helping the homeless and sacrificing so much to do so. It’s lovely to get advice off such a strong, kind and successful woman!

      Big Love

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