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Q&A with Ann Giles - Bullying UK

Posted: by Jo Monday, 22 March 2021 @ 15:49

Inspired to be their best selves

Over the last 4 years, we have been running our #mybestself campaign, to learn from different women about what makes them step up to be their best self in any given situation.

In 2021, we decided to focus on a particular audience, to understand what drives them: the women and men who set up or work in the charities which we support through our ‘Mantra Changes Lives’ initiative. Does it take a particular kind of person to devote their working life to helping people? Is it a calling? Or did an event occur in their lives which drew them to this work?

I’m sure we will get 12 different answers from 12 different people, and I am fascinated to find out what those answers are. Stay with me through the year as I interview some remarkable people who work in the charitable or not-for-profit sector, who are changing lives every day. They are people who have truly stepped up to be their best selves.

One of our long-standing charity partners is Bullying UK, part of the FAMILY LIVES charity.

I was interested to speak to Ann Giles, one of the Helpline Volunteers at Family Lives, to find out what drew her to volunteer; and how she gets through the inevitable challenges she must face, especially in the current situation.

Ann Giles Bullying UK mantra be kind necklace

Jo: Tell me a little about Family Lives' aims? 

Ann: We know that the right support at the right time makes all the difference. Family Lives provides targeted early intervention and crisis support to families who are struggling. The issues we support families with include debt, emotional and mental health, bullying, family breakdown, challenging relationships and behaviour.

Jo: And tell me – what was it that prompted you to volunteer for Family Lives?

Ann: I started volunteering with Family Lives shortly after I had retired from London Fire Brigade. I had completed over 30 years’ service working in the Control Room answering emergency fire calls, mobilising fire appliances, logistical planning of personnel. It was a job that I loved and felt that I was making a real difference.  When I looked into the work of Family Lives, I knew that working on the helpline and listening, talking and advising people who were in difficult situations was something that I wanted to do. I am very much a people person and love the idea that just one phone call that someone makes to me could possibly make a big difference to their life, or just start them thinking about how to make their own decisions and change their situation.

Jo: What do you hope to achieve with the charity – in the short-term in 2021, and longer term? 

Ann: I just want to continue to improve the way I help our callers, listen more intently, and build up my knowledge of outside charities that can help our callers.

Jo: There must be innumerable challenges – logistical, political, financial, emotional – to delivering on the charity’s aims, especially now with the impact of Covid. How do you stay motivated and focused, through all of that? 

Ann: It was always good to be in the office so that I could ask my colleagues and supervisors help or advice in helping with difficult calls, so it was particularly challenging when we first started working from home.

We started doing TEAMS calls at the end of our shifts, and debriefing with our supervisor and other colleagues. This helps immensely, as I can debrief any difficult situations that I have helped callers with. Also just having a chat with colleagues is a bit of light relief after often dealing with quite stressful or upsetting calls.

Jo: Did you imagine, when you set out in your career, that this is what you would end up doing? 

Ann: I always knew that when I left the Fire Brigade that I would do some sort of voluntary work. I worked 40 hours a week doing shift work so didn’t have much time for voluntary work. Working for Family Lives has definitely filled the big ‘helping people’ hole that I had in my life!

Jo: Do you have a mantra, or positive phrase, that you live your life by?

Ann: My most important phrase is ‘Be Kind’ - to others, as we don’t know what people are going through. Be kind to animals, as I feed lots of animals that come to the garden - birds, squirrels, foxes, badgers. I even have resident spiders in my house as I’m sure they are quite happy there! But most important is to be kind to yourself, something I wish I had put into practice as a young woman.

Our Mantra Collaboration

We are helping to support Bullying UK vital work, by donating 25% of the sales of our ‘Be Kind’ disc necklace to support them.

25% of the sales go directly to the charity, so you can offer your support by choosing one of our ‘Be Kind’ necklaces, knowing that you are helping someone get through a challenging time. The mantra, ‘In my words, thoughts and actions, I choose kindness’, reminds us that we all have a choice in life, and the bet choice is to always choose kindness. 

mantra be kind necklace

April Competition

This month, there is a chance to win one of our ‘Be Kind’ necklaces. Find out more details on our competition page here. Visit our Competition page page to see how to enter, or follow us on our social media.

Competition opens on 1st April and closes midnight Thursday 30th April 2021.

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