Natalie, a solicitor from Taunton, has been a Trustee with St. Giles Animal Rescue since June 2020.
Here, she explains how she uses her professional expertise to support the charity and how she benefits in return.
During the pandemic, Natalie set up and helped coordinate over 40 community groups, offering vital support to hundreds of vulnerable people in Taunton. It was this taste of social action that led to her becoming a Trustee with St. Giles.
“I sort of fell into volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back, it was driven by this awful, helpless feeling of being stuck in a really uncertain situation. I felt the need to do something and to keep myself busy so I set up 40 local Covid-19 groups, many of which are still running. During this time, the Giles Centre reached out to me as they were looking for another trustee to join their board. Because I love animals and am passionate about helping them, I thought it would be a good fit for me and that my skills could really help them.
“My previous volunteering experience means I know my community really well, so I have been able to help raise the profile of the organisation in the local area. My background in law has enabled me to support them with the legalities of governance and I have also helped answer questions about their premises and grant funding.
“The role is really rewarding. I go up to the sanctuary and see the dogs and cats that we have rescued and that makes it all feel so worthwhile."
“The role is really rewarding. I go up to the sanctuary and see the dogs and cats that we have rescued and that makes it all feel so worthwhile. And obviously it is good to have on your CV - it shows you are the sort of a person who is benevolent and willing to give up their time, plus it broadens your skillset.
“The jobs market is quite competitive at the moment so anything that sets you apart from other candidates, that shows you’ve really played a big part in your community, will be beneficial. If you’re volunteering for a cause that you are passionate about, you'll stand out to potential employers. Plus, you’ll be able to talk to interviewers about other life skills that aren’t necessarily academic.
“I’d advise anyone who feels they have something to offer to consider trusteeship because charities are crying out for people with diverse skillsets. Trustees can specialise in anything; sales and marketing, finance, legal or managerial, and you don't necessarily need a professional qualification.
“As a board we meet once every six weeks 6 weeks on Zoom for about an hour and a half and I’m available by email. It’s very flexible and I don’t have to attend every meeting. So, in terms of time commitment, it's not like a job. But I think it's always worth finding out what the expectation is, because every charity is different.
“I’d like to demystify trusteeship as it isn’t as scary as people might think, both in terms of time commitment and also the responsibilities involved. In actual fact, you could find it really quite rewarding and beneficial!”
Jack Lines, Director and Animal Physiotherapist at St. Giles explains:
“Natalie has made a massive impact on the charity, with her experience and qualifications we have been able to branch out into new areas of revenue we've wanted to achieve for a long time. We're now in the process of securing 10 cattery pens under a license through the onsite Animal Centre and this will allow us to increase our cash flow and help rehome more unwanted and stray animals. Natalie’s input during our Trustees meetings has also been invaluable, she has been able to give us secure, sound advice to help improve the charity and support the Board.”
To view current volunteering opportunities at St. Giles Animal Rescue Centre, click here.
To search for a trustee opportunity in Somerset, click the link below.