I wanted my work to really mean something

1 Apr 19

"As a student, my Education Studies lecturer Professor Nigel Tubbs was passionate about his academic work and his teaching, and I realised I wanted the same in my work.

While studying, I volunteered at a young people’s counselling, advice and information centre in Winchester. This experience inspired me to follow a career in the not-for-profit sector. I remember one young man who survived on meagre benefits, unable to work because of severe depression. The centre was his lifeline, where a cup of coffee and a chat meant the world to him. Other than that he was on his own.

As a fundraiser, I help charities bring in the resources they need to do their front line work. However, it’s not all about money. I help them to communicate effectively so that people outside the organisation can decide whether they want to be a part of it. Without supporters we could do nothing.

I have worked with a range of different charities and causes. What is common is that they exist to make the world a better place.

Charities work to redress societal injustices related to poverty, conflict, exploitation, disability and health, and to protect what is precious and in danger of being lost such as wildlife and places under threat from climate change.

I currently work part-time with Blue Smile, a small charity working across Cambridgeshire to support children with their wellbeing and mental health. The Guardian reported in October 2018 that nearly one in four referrals to children’s mental health services were rejected. Children are rejected for NHS treatment as their condition is not regarded as serious enough. This is where Blue Smile comes in.

Overwhelming feelings can stop a child from enjoying life, both at home and at school, and can get in the way of learning. One head teacher commented that Blue Smile ‘unlocks a child’s potential to learn’. Blue Smile therapists work with children through play and art. The child can play as they wish and in the midst of that play, they can start to express how they feel, the things that are troubling them, and how they would like life to be different. The therapist won’t judge them or get angry, and will gently help them understand why they feel the way they do.

The results are tremendous! An 11-year-old told us: “I have brightness in me again and I feel happiness. I feel that I can take on any learning challenge, and I never used to feel that”. A 10-year-old said: “I have been going to school without crying”.

All staff are part-time so we are doing what we can with very limited resources! Blue Smile can be contacted at www.bluesmile.org.uk

For the other part of my week, I provide independent fundraising support to charities though my own business – Zoe Bunter Fundraising Support. It is a demanding sector to work in and fundraising is not an easy job, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that what I do is bringing care and help to people of all ages and backgrounds."

Zoe’s work is making a difference to the lives of many. If you are inspired to offer support to others and make a difference to someone’s life, perhaps you might want to get involved with the University? From mentoring to having an ambassadorial role and from donating to contributing to our blog – find out more about how you might be able to take part here


This article originally appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Venta, our alumni magazine.

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