To celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2018, we catch up with Maureen Botham, one of our own brilliant volunteers, to find out why she got involved with Sported and the most rewarding aspects of the role.
Although I have volunteered for various charities over the years, my friends and family are quite surprised that I now volunteer for a sports related charity. I am NOT sporty at all – never have been – though I did enjoy synchronised swimming at school.
I initially volunteered for Sported because of its links with the Olympics. As a former 2012 Olympics Essex Ambassador, the social and economic aspirations of the bid really resonated with me. I wanted to continue to be part of that legacy. Sported’s Sports for Development focus is a good fit with this.
The most rewarding aspect of working with Sported members is helping them see potential pathways for development and working with them to see how to get there. Everyone I have worked with has been really committed and enthusiastic; knowing that I have helped them become more focused and, hopefully more effective is great.
I believe it is important to get to know the members and understand what is at the heart of their motivation and provision. Luckily, they are all keen to share information about their activities and achievements. I have been fortunate in working with a range of groups across the country, due to being involved in Light Touch projects. I have learned about basketball, boxing, football, and sports provision for people with a disability. I have learnt about the problems and issues faced by member groups; I am constantly in awe of their energy and enthusiasm.
My work background is in regulation and internal audit. This is helpful as I can analyse situations and identify the root causes of issues; however, it does tend to make me a little risk averse. One of the areas I focus on with my mentored members is good financial management, so that you can make informed decisions about expansion and investment. Despite my best efforts, things don’t necessarily improve in this area. I was working with a boxing club to develop long and short-term plans and a bid for Box-On funding. You can imagine my reaction when I got a call from a mentee saying, “I think I have bought a boxing ring”. This was BEFORE we had submitted our bid – my heart went to my boots. All ended well; the ring was in excellent condition, it was an absolute bargain, and it was paid for from the club’s reserves. This was a lesson for me to trust members’ entrepreneurial spirit, even if it is alien to me.
I have volunteered for Sported for over three years now and hope to continue well into the future. It is great to be able to use my skills in various ways. I have worked with mentored clients, on Light Touch projects and have developed and delivered a member workshop on planning and finance. I feel well supported as a mentor, have received training, used and value the resources available on the Sported website and have a good rapport with my Regional Manager and other staff members. A key factor in my continued commitment is that the work I do is appreciated. Feedback from the members is positive, even if I give them a load of action points! And the Sported team are keen to acknowledge that volunteers are essential to the success and sustainability of the organisation.
Several of my friends have expressed an interest in volunteering, I have no hesitation in recommending Sported as an opportunity to use their skills and talents.
If you have been inspired by Maureen’s story and are interested in volunteering with Sported, you can find out more by clicking HERE.