Tuesday, 26 July 2016

What a difference a year makes...

This time last year an email landed in my in box, it was good news informing me that A Way Out had submitted a successful application for assistance of a very special kind. 

This communication informed me we had been successful in applying to the trustees of Garfield Weston Foundation and they had voted A Way Out to participate in a unique process which involved matching the charity with senior business people in a year-long engagement to plan for sustainability, development and growth.  This commitment has been facilitated by an organisation known as Pilotlight.
Pilotlight recruit national business leaders to work with individual charities to help improve the lives of those who need it most.  Teams of senior business leaders are handpicked from a range of corporate sectors to help the charities’ leaders to create more sustainable and efficient organisations by offering high quality, challenging mentoring, normally only available to top corporate executives. 
Once a month, for the past 12 months, I have had the privilege of meeting with a group of these  selected business leaders to discuss how A Way Out can become a more resilient organisation, delivering an even more effective and efficient service, resulting ultimately in better outcomes for those with whom we work.  
Pilotlight describe their process as being about “exchanging skills”.   One of the most important skill exchanges during our engagement has involved taking a careful look at A Way Out finances and recognizing and acknowledging the importance and tremendous value of ‘unrestricted’ funding – financial support used to support any area of the organisation which is extremely hard to secure Unrestricted funding is essential and fundamental to the everyday running and longevity of the work A Way Out undertakes. 
This focus highlighted a key question for these top corporate executives – How is it possible to drum up essential financial support for a charitable organisation whose work is not glamorous or cute or fluffy, but is work depending upon unswerving, resilient, commitment over a number of years in an area of existence  society can sometimes choose to ignore? … this is where the challenge of our work impacted these national senior business executives on a level they weren’t expecting… the work of A Way Out impacted their hearts as well as their minds. 
A few of the Pilotlighters arranged to travel north to visit our centre in order to experience, at first hand, the work we undertake, and they were impressed by the work of our staff, the life changing achievements of those people we work with and by the valuable support we receive from our wonderful volunteers.  The Pilotlighters also saw, at first hand, the very real challenge we face in maintaining our funding levels.
It is a honor for us as an organisation to have benefitted from the valuable expertise of the ‘Pilotlighters’ and also humbling and hugely encouraging to receive such acknowledgement and praise for the stories of success within our services. 
If you would like to learn more about our work with a view to perhaps helping us with our challenge related to ‘unrestricted’ funding on a corporate or individual level, or exchange your skills by volunteering to support our project staff teams please take a look at our website, www.awayout.co.uk
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