I first came into contact with The Big Issue during my childhood when my mum would buy a mag each week, we would struggle to get hold of one in my small hometown so she would often visit a neighbouring town or city to get her hands on the latest copy. Her love for the magazine passed down to me and once I moved to Bath the magazine was more easily available and I would often visit a particular vendor for a catch-up and to grab the latest copy.
After moving to London and working within the charity sector for a couple of years, in a company for people with learning disabilities, I was keen to gain experience within a different area, homelessness in particular. After browsing online for opportunities, I stumbled upon the volunteering role within The Big Issue Foundation’s events team and applied straight away.
Aside from the magazines, I knew very little about other aspects of the organisation. After researching prior to my interview I discovered that the Foundation was only one arm of the organisation and was separate from the magazine (company). I was used to working within a small team so was pleased to discover that the charity was made up of a handful of members and this meant, once I undertook the position, I was really able to sink my teeth into the role and felt like an integral member of the team.
Everyone was incredibly welcoming and eager to involve me with all aspects of the working day. Some of my tasks would include, managing the social channels (scheduling tweets and Facebook posts), helping to organise various events (the main being The Big London Night Walk), writing news stories for the website, dealing with all promotion around an event, managing supporters and sourcing materials/support from outside companies. I was always invited to share my ideas and was encouraged to feed into team meetings which really made me feel involved within the organisation.
Since volunteering at the Big Issue Foundation I really caught the fundraising bug! After assisting supporters with their own fundraising journeys I was desperate to try my hand at my own. I wasn’t sure what sort of event I wanted to get involved in until I saw dates for an upcoming skydive opportunity. I jumped (!) at the chance and signed myself up straight away, I have always wanted to do a skydive – the thrill of freefalling greatly appeals to me and what better way to get my fix than raising vital money to help Big Issue Vendors. My skydive took place on Saturday 23rd July and I managed to exceed my fundraising target. I have revelled in all that comes with fundraising, I have held a successful bake sale where I was overwhelmed with the generosity of others. I also sold lots of unwanted bits and bobs on Ebay and friends & family have been incredibly supportive with donations.
During my time at The Big Issue Foundation I was able to gain invaluable experience and great knowledge into homelessness and the various ways we can help as a society to support people who have often become excluded.
I have taken so much away from my time at The Big Issue Foundation and am so incredibly pleased that I decided to go for the role. With thanks to all of the team for making me feel so welcome and valued. I am excited to see where I take my new found knowledge and hope I can stay involved with the Foundation in the future – I will definitely be taking on another challenge, perhaps a trek up a large mountain…who knows, the possibilities are endless!
You can support my skydive here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/WillowWelch