“There is always something to learn from new people.”

An interview with Skilled Volunteer Christy D'Costa

Blog by Skilled Volunteer Diane Carrington | Jun 2023

Christy has a background in marketing and branding and has worked with large corporates as well as with start-ups. She joined Link UP London as a Skilled Volunteer because she wanted to support charitable organisations working towards making a difference in the local community. A friend from another professional networking group recommended Skilled Volunteering to her at an event, as a result of which she decided to make contact with Link UP London and got involved in her first project soon after.  

The project was with Breakfast Clubs against Racism, a non-profit that needed help managing a complete brand identity change. It was a very small team juggling all aspects of running a charity with very little manpower, so Christy’s role was to support them through this process. As she had previously founded a start-up, Christy was well placed to understand the challenges that they were going through and with her extensive experience she set about supporting them to achieve their objectives.  

“As a non-profit you have to be a jack of all trades, even when you are not skilled in certain areas you have no choice but to build your skills, continue learning so you don’t become comfortable… and find others to help you to make it work.”  

Christy got stuck in helping them to channel their thought processes, giving ideas, providing a sounding board, and understanding the branding process. If they were stuck, she acted as a sounding board helping to steer them in the right direction to think outside the box and overcome any hurdles. The project involved redesigning their website content, navigating user interface, and sequencing. By the end of the project, they had a complete brand identity that reflected the areas they were widening their activities into. The CEO was extremely happy with the outcome, and this was an assurance to Christy that she had done a great job. 

Christy loved the fact that Skilled Volunteering allowed her to make a valuable and substantial contribution without compromising her day job. This shorter and more flexible commitment enabled her to give back to her community at a time that suited her, and she was able to fit it all in around her already busy schedule.  

Christy believes that “You can always find time and opportunities to get involved with a charity of your choice and make a difference…it has taken me out of my comfort zone, taught me to make time instead of just thinking of myself.” 

When asked about anything she learnt on the project Christy says that she was surprised to learn about the challenges that non-profits experience, how dependent they are on grants so that when these funds stop, they are severely impacted meaning that their activities draw to a halt until new funders or grants can be found. This knowledge has only served to increase her passion to continue helping. 

Christy says that she also learnt to develop her softer skills and feels that she has become a better listener.  

“Sometimes it is important to just listen…”. 

Six months on Christy remains positive about the project and her contribution, the feedback from the non-profit on conclusion has stayed with her.  

One of the best things about being involved in this project was the opportunity to meet new people from other walks of life, listen to their various stories and learn more about the great work that they are doing to help their communities. 

“There is always something to learn from new people.”  

She also feels that it helped her to “polish” her own skills as she adapted to working with a new type of organisation, but what does she think an objective observer would say about her achievement? Christy hopes they would see that the problem she went into “fix” was resolved successfully – something that she is proud of and that has given her great satisfaction. 

Christy’s enthusiasm is boundless. She has continued to engage with other volunteering commitments and has since picked up a new project with Link UP London.  

“What Link UP London does is great – bringing people together to help each other.” 

Christy has shared her experience with others, referring some of them to Link UP London, encouraging them to make contact to explore possibilities where their skills might be used.  

Her advice to anyone thinking of Skilled Volunteering is:  

“Think no more, there are great opportunities out there, look at the Link UP London website, they will make it so easy and smooth for you… It’s a small world, you do not have to travel to help someone – you can help virtually.” 

About our Guest Blogger, Diane Carrington

Diane lives in London with many years' experience from various roles in education. She is now establishing a career as a freelance writer. She is also an author of children’s books and seeking her first publishing agent.

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