Donate Twitter Facebook

Suzanne's Blog

Suzanne's Volunteering Blog

During July 2014 the HARCVS team was delighted to welcome Suzanne Elsdon on a 2 week work placement. Suzanne was a really helpful member of our team and enthusiastically completed a variety of different jobs. In this blog Suzanne shares her story of her time with us... 

HARCVS would like to say a huge thank you to Suzanne for all her hard work and fresh ideas.

Day 1- Monday

First I had an induction with Bev (Business Support Officer) where I was shown around Harrogate Community House and introduced to the Harrogate based HARCVS team members. I was also giving a briefing on Health and Safety in the building and signed confidentiality and consent forms.

Then I attended the staff team meeting where everyone shared their news and updates for the week. This week’s team meeting celebrated HELP (Harrogate Easier Living Project) gaining the Sainsbury’s Harrogate Local Charity Partner for the year and what events would take place in aid of this, including Sainsbury’s supporting HELP in fundraising and volunteering activities.

After the staff meeting I was asked to prepare a paper for an upcoming meeting about The Living Wage. The paper was to consist of ideas surrounding what The Living Wage is and how it would affect HARCVS if they chose to implement it to the organisation. I prepared a factual paper using the relevant resources and then went on to create a SWOT analysis displaying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of implementing the Living Wage at HARCVS. I also included in the paper why The Living Wage had been developed and what kind of companies had already registered to it, so that the board could get an idea of where it fits into an organisation. The paper was approved and agreed to be used at the meeting.

Suzanne and Mark working on The Living Wage.

Day 2- Tuesday

The morning was spent at Ripon Community House with for a team meeting with Ripon based staff.  At the meeting I observed the discussions and was asked to keep the notes for all issues and then write up meeting notes back at the Harrogate office.

Business Development Officer, Rachel Kingdom, asked me to begin some research for a potential sponsored fundraising event to raise money for HARCVS. I began by researching the success of similar events and how events like this had been conducted in the past. I then compiled a list of potential suppliers so that a rough cost of the event could be calculated.

I then put together a Sponsorship Package, which was something I had never done before so this was completely new experience for me that required a lot of research. Finally I put together a marketing plan for the event, including marketing objectives, a target market and the promotional methods that I suggested should be used for the event.


Day 3- Wednesday

In the morning I continued with work on the sponsored fundraising event by researching businesses in the Harrogate area that may be interested in getting involved.

In the afternoon I did some work for the HELP project which involved me designing a new leaflet to promote the HELP services. I compiled the 3 existing leaflets for the Help at Home, Opening Doors and Carers Time Off services into one more simple and easy to read leaflet.

Day 4- Thursday

Today I did some research for HELP into the social networking site Pinterest. I put together a small paper on what Pinterest was and how it is used. I also did further research into how charities could potentially use Pinterest and the kind of activity that existing charities take on Pinterest. This was useful to consider whether Pinterest would be a worthwhile venture for HELP or HARCVS and how to use it to promote services and create awareness.

Week 2

Day 5- Monday

This morning I began some research into Boroughbridge Community Care and the history of the organisation. The main purpose of the research was to piece together BCC’s history and explain the relationship that BCC has with HARCVS and how the two charities work together.

In the afternoon I was given the opportunity to have a look through HARCVS current marketing plan, as a student studying Business Management and Marketing this was really interesting for me. Looking through the marketing plan not only allowed me to see how the theory I have learnt at University is put into practise in a real working environment but it also gave me an insight into how a charity approaches marketing their services with a low budget.

Today I stayed behind at the office to help out at a Social Media Surgery from 6:00 until 8:00pm. The Social Media Surgery involved helping charities and community groups to get a better understand of how social media and networking websites work and what they can be used for.

Suzanne outside the Social Media Surgery with Angela and volunteers Liz and Graham.

Day 6- Tuesday

This morning I attended a meeting with the HELP team where the main topics for discussion was marketing methods for HELP and how the team could improve at recruiting volunteers. The meeting involved the team members discussing where HELP already advertise the services and coming up with ideas for new places to promote the services around Harrogate. Frances, HELP Project Manager, also showed the team 3 different drafts for new HELP posters and the team came to a decision in choosing the final design for the poster. I put forward my own ideas on how HELP could recruit younger volunteers and where best to target people of my age who may be interested in volunteer roles.

Today I also met with Anna Woollven, a project development worker for HELP who also manages the marketing at HELP. Anna told me about how HELP not only market to service users but must also market the service to potential volunteers.

I stayed in the office after work today to attend the HARCVS Trustees Board Meeting at 6:00pm. The agenda included the issues arising around HARCVS joining The Living Wage Foundation. Earlier in the week I had produced a factual paper on The Living Wage to better inform the members of the board about what it is and how it could benefit HARCVS. From the knowledge the board already had and from the information in the paper I produced, a vote was made by the board members to sign up to the Living Wage Foundation.

Day 7- Wednesday

My first task this morning was to produce a press release about HARCVS signing up to the Living Wage Foundation to inform stakeholders of HARCVS what this would involve for the charity.

After I had written up the Press Release, I attended a meeting with Mark Hopley and Kate Rogata of  Supporting Older People about planning for the future. This was very interesting and gave me an insight into another aspect of the charity.

I spent the rest of my afternoon finalising all the work tasks I had been working on during my time at HARCVS and sending off completed work to team members.

Day 8- Thursday

Today was my last day of work placement with HARCVS and the first thing I did was visit David Allon, the Project Worker over at Boroughbridge Community Care, with Karen. Karen thought this would be a good way for me to get an understanding of the whole of HARCVS service as I had now met the teams at Harrogate, Ripon and Boroughbridge. The main purpose for the visit was to gather some further information from David about the history of BCC so that I could finalise the work I had done earlier in the week linking the history of BCC with HARCVS.

Back at the Harrogate office I spent the rest of the morning putting together a timeline of the BCC history using their annual reports and the information David had provided me with.

At 2:00pm I said goodbye to everyone at the office and thanked them for such a useful and enjoyable experience with HARCVS. I then attended a Harrogate Borough Council Neighbourhood Management Steering Group meeting with Karen at the Council offices.

Overall, I really enjoyed my two weeks at HACVS and found it to be a really beneficial experience. It has given me a very interesting and useful insight into the everyday running and activities of an organisation in the not-for-profit charity sector.

Suzanne on her last day with some of the HARCVS team, Mark, Rachel, Phil and Angela.