Too busy to volunteer? How combining parenting and trusteeship worked for me.

Posted on the 4th June 2018

Most people expect that when you become a parent for the first time a few things have to slide. Sleep, sanity and a variety of extracurricular activities are often the first to go…

I’ve volunteered for a number of things over the years – mostly in the evenings after work. I spent many a happy Tuesday evening humming a tune and cooking for the brilliant Choir with No Name. However, with a busy job and a partner who works long hours, I knew that having a child would change things and I might not be able to commit to a regular volunteering slot.

During pregnancy, a random test picked up the fact that I was carrying Group B Strep (GBS) and needed antibiotics in labour. Although we had a few complications, none were as serious for a new-born baby as a GBS infection and we were home in just under a week. I had almost forgotten about it when a friend from school posted a Facebook update. In sharp contrast, GBS was not picked up in her case and her daughter tragically passed away.

I now know that I was one of the lucky ones – it made me so angry to think that we had such different experiences, and it made me determined to do something about it.

I contacted Group B Strep Support, a charity that works to end GBS infection in babies, and asked about trustee opportunities. I met the chief executive a few weeks later and discussed how I could contribute. In my day job, I spend a lot of time working with MPs and Ministers, so I wanted to use those skills to help push this issue higher up the agenda.

Volunteering as a trustee is a fantastic experience, I’ve learnt a lot about running an organisation. We feed into the overall direction and strategy and spend a lot of time weighing up the benefits and risks of decisions.

Collectively, we’re responsible for ensuring the charity is well run and financially sound, and the best thing about our meetings is listening and learning from all the different experiences around the table. Whether it’s a family member affected by GBS, a midwife or even a financial accountant, we all have something to contribute.

I may have less time than before, but I have more determination than ever. We meet four times a year on Saturdays so I can attend board meetings when I know that childcare won’t be an issue – I’m also very fortunate that NCVO will give me time off to volunteer (up to five days, thanks to NCVO) so when we are called upon to represent the charity at events or committees I know I can make it work with enough notice and planning. If you’re also struggling to fit volunteering around a busy life, maybe trusteeship is worth exploring too.

As it happens, GBSS are looking for a new trustee and you can find out more here.

Or you can find other trustee opportunities here.

Chloe Stables

Chloe is Head of External Relations at NCVO and a trustee for Group B Step Support.

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