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