Alison Watkins

Business Manager at Deutsche Bank talks about the rewards of volunteering with Sporteducate.

Through Deutsche Bank and Sported’s Sporteducate programme, Alison has been volunteering as a treasurer at Carney’s Community – a Lambeth and Wandsworth based charity that uses boxing combined with one-to-one mentoring to realise the potential of disadvantaged young people that suffer from crime and violence. Outside of both of these roles, Alison also volunteers her time as a Special Constable in Wandsworth.

What made you decide to volunteer for the Sporteducate programme?

“I’m a Special Constable so I volunteer around 200 hours a year already. I had always wanted to get involved in other volunteering activities although the roles Deutsche Bank regularly circulated never quite fit. It wasn’t until the treasurer vacancy at Carney’s Community came through that I felt genuinely ticked all the boxes; not just on what Sported was trying to achieve, but also in relation to my skill-set. I know accounting and deal a lot with numbers, so I knew I could make a valuable contribution to Carney’s work.”


What is your role at Carney’s Community?

“I’m the treasurer at Carney’s Community. When I first started, George Turner [Carney’s Co-Founder] was doing pretty much everything. So I took the accounting work off his hands so that he could give his full attention to helping young people. Also, if George is going to a meeting and needs a Trustee there, I will always try to be available. George lives just around the corner from me, so it is easy to meet up and chat things through.


As you can imagine the scale of the work at Deutsche Bank and Carney’s Community are completely different, however the way you approach tasks is the same – you need to ensure you are spending money wisely. Working for two very different organisations gives you a good sense of perspective, especially on the value of money. For example, just buying a Travelcard for a young person George is mentoring can change their life by helping them get to things such as job interviews.”


Which aspects of your volunteer role have you found most rewarding?

“At a recent funding event George was presenting at I met two people he had mentored in the past. Both had been to jail, but they had turned their lives around. It was really interesting to see how someone listening to you consistently for a few years and always being there can make such a difference to someone’s life. Also just working with George is great, he’s a very inspirational person.”


What have you learnt from your experiences volunteering?

“I have learnt that if you keep persevering with something or someone, you can make a big difference. Anyone can make a difference if you are prepared to give a bit of time and not platitudes. It’s about genuinely getting involved, not just saying you will and then not doing anything about it.


My volunteer work outside of Deutsche Bank gives me perspective. George came up with a really good quote recently: “To try and help these people you need to understand what they’ve been through”. They might be committing crimes, but generally these young people have had crimes committed against them. Understanding the cycle of what they’ve been through and trying to help them get through it, is really important.”


What advice would you give to other professionals thinking about volunteering?
“Just do it. Any type of volunteering gives you a new perspective on life. Too many people come to work, have a busy day, then they go home and spend time with their friends and family or sit in front of the TV, and that’s it. Volunteering opens your eyes to what else is going on in the world. I would encourage everyone to volunteer, it is life affirming and makes a real difference.”


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