September’s Volunteer of the Month: Emma Ryan
21 September 2018
Every month, Octopus Giving recognises the team or individual that has done great things by volunteering for charity. This month’s award went to Emma Ryan, Head of Servicing and Legal for Octopus Property. Emma now gets to donate £500 to the charity of her choice.
Why did you decide to start volunteering?
“It was that old cliché of wanting to give something back. We can all carve out time in our busy lives to help others. I certainly have been guilty on a number of occasions of using the excuse of not having time to be able to do it. I decided it was time to change that!”
Why did you choose to volunteer for Downright Excellent?
“It’s a cause that is close to my heart. My sister had Down syndrome, so I really wanted to help out at a charity that supports children with Down syndrome and their families. It can be very difficult to understand what help you can get – and from where – and DEx is a vital support network for these families.”
What earned you the VOM award?
“Using my legal knowledge, I’ve been working closely with DEx’s management, particularly over the last month, to kick off a number of initiatives. The major project we will be working towards with them is obtaining PQASSO (a charity kitemark).
“PQASSO is a really important step in the development of a charitable organisation, as it covers 11 quality areas (including governance, leadership, managing money and resources) that demonstrate it is operating to a high standard.
“I have also been leading the volunteering drive within Octopus Property. Across the whole of Octopus Property, we’re aiming to collectively volunteer 300 hours within a three-month period. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there!”
What’s been your most memorable volunteering experience so far?
“There have been a number but more recently, (as strange as it may sound), it was seeing the genuine appreciation and gratitude from DEx after Octopus Giving was able to purchase and install new cupboards. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make a huge difference.
“When I visited onsite to start an inventory of toys, I got talking to DEx and asked them about what equipment they were missing and would need in the future. That’s when we discovered that cupboards were sorely needed. They were so appreciative of their ability to move all of the play equipment off the floor and into a safe and clean area. It’s made such a difference.”
Have you got a message for anyone who hasn’t volunteered before?
“Just do it! I’m lucky that Octopus makes it so easy for the people who work here to volunteer. I have never worked somewhere where volunteering is encouraged so much and is so strongly supported by management. You have complete backing to spend some of your time helping out others, and so many people take the opportunity.
“For some it can seem a bit daunting to go to something on your own but just know that the charities are so incredibly grateful and after those initial few minutes, you’ll feel right at home. There are also plenty of opportunities where you could sign up with a friend and go together.”