Hello! There’s a good chance you’ve seen me at The Spinney or out and about with Little Miracles. There’s also a pretty good chance that you have no idea what I do, besides “computer stuff”. I’d like to offer you a peek behind the curtains (office door) and fill you in on my role and what makes Little Miracles so special for me.
Prior to joining Little Miracles, I had a brief experience of volunteering at The Spinney in the Summer of 2014, having just finished my A Levels. Jack – my best friend at school and now colleague – went on holiday, so I was drafted in to keep his seat warm and to do bits and pieces in the office. Being as good friends as we were (and are!), he would often tell me about things that were happening – cool trips/experiences, funny stories and grant writing. I enjoyed those few days and kept in loose contact with Michelle thereafter.
The following 12 months were a mixed bag of odd jobs and unsuccessful ventures. Not long after volunteering, I moved to Eindhoven to undertake a degree in Physiotherapy (the tuition fees out there are significantly cheaper than back at home). Needless to say, that didn’t work out as planned – with everybody speaking perfect Dutch and English, waiting to find a job was too much of a risk and I had to give it up. By the time I got back, it was too late to sign up for an alternative course in England, so I dotted from job to job to earn money and pass the time until the next academic year.
When an apprenticeship became available at Little Miracles in July 2015, I jumped at the chance. Now don’t get me wrong, as much as I loved being a butcher for Tesco (and I really did, it was great fun), the offered role of Business Development Officer was an opportunity into a world that I’d heard so many good things about. I’d heard from Jack (an apprentice BDO himself) of some of the duties that were to be performed and they appealed to me that no other job could.
“Business Development” is a very broad term. My role really does encapsulate any actions that develop business. In practice; that mostly entails setting up and managing relationships with funding organisations and businesses (for financial support and volunteering), representing Little Miracles at conferences/trade shows/events and ensuring funding is available to meet the changing needs of all Little Miracles users.
My primary duty is to write grant applications – creating projects and sourcing funding to enable those projects to run. Those projects can be anything that costs money – from staff, materials/equipment for sessions to run and maintenance/improvements to Little Miracles’ facilities, down to coaches for trips and an allowance for refreshments to be made available during sessions. This is part of what makes my job so rewarding – as a user-led charity, the majority of project ideas come directly from the people that will benefit from it (so if you have any ideas, please do let us know!). It’s lovely to see projects that have existed for months purely in my head and on my computer being delivered, and the life-changing services that we can offer as a result of my work. Winning a grant is a peculiar thing – the binary switch from hugely influential projects being theoretical into something that will actually happen, it’s a rush that I can only liken to scoring a last-minute winner in a football game. I can’t think of many roles that would give the sense of immediate gratification as grant writing does, especially when you know it will make a real difference in people’s lives, people I see often.
My role has shifted focus in the last year into mainly securing funding to sustain the activities of the Little Miracles branch network (of which we currently run 10 across Eastern England). There’s an awful lot of information to be aware of and monitor, but hey, it keeps me busy. Jack, meanwhile, mainly secures funding for projects to be delivered from the Peterborough branch.
I’ve been with Little Miracles for a little over 2 years now, and the level and variety of support we now offer is a million miles from my initial contact back in 2014. The charity has progressed beyond offering advice and social events (which are still important of course and a big part of what we do) and now employs staff to deliver specialist services at no cost to users. In my research and anecdotal accounts from families; I’m all too aware of how vital these services are yet would otherwise be inaccessible (be it too expensive, waiting lists that take months/years or simply not being available in this area). The continuing collaborative efforts of the Little Miracles community – our management committee, staff, families and volunteers in any respect – make Little Miracles what it is. There is no “glass ceiling” in terms of what we could offer, and I’m proud to be part of the process that pushes the Charity in new and exciting directions.
Throughout my time at Little Miracles; I’ve completed two apprenticeship courses – Level 3 and Level 4 Diploma in Business Administration. The Little Miracles team has been very supportive throughout this process, and continue to be supportive in my choosing of a distance learning course to further my education.
I hope this piece has given you some insight into Little Miracles from a different perspective. Myself and Jack aren’t at The Spinney as much these days, but if you walk in and see the back of two boys in the office, I’m the one on the right 🙂