This is the oodles blog! My name is Jan Pullinger. I’m a 57 year old mother of two and I have a real passion and belief in communities coming together to help one another. My favourite subject at school was sociology and throughout my adult life I’ve either worked for, or given support to, organisations that provide a public service.
I first started fundraising with my children through Blue Peter Annual Appeals or their primary school fundraisers, but I was really hooked when I trained as a grief counselor for Cruse Bereavement Care and became the local group’s voluntary, official fundraiser and a management committee member.
Over the years, I have been a volunteer for some great organisations, like Homestart which provides practical help and support to families with children under 4, where I ran a weekly post natal depression group for new mums. I have also volunteered for LOROS which is a local Hospice where I visited terminally ill people in their own homes, keeping them company while their full time carers got some well-deserved time off. As well as Leonard Cheshire homes, where I worked as a coordinator, recruiting, and supporting volunteers.
Whilst being involved in these amazing charities there was always a dark cloud hovering on the horizon, funding! Again and again it was easy to identify projects that could make a difference but the onerous task of putting together bids and applying for funds, only to be turned down was disheartening to say the least. However, even that was a little easier than trying to get funding for on-going running costs. Just the rent of a small office or some paper and ink to produce information leaflets (believe me no one was on a six-figure salary!). These funds had to come from collections and local events where I was always blown away by the general public’s willingness to put their hands in their pockets and give so generously.
To my mind there is so much good stuff happening in the voluntary sector today that needs celebrating but there are also some real problems that are holding us back. So in the oodles blog posts I hope to challenge, inspire, provoke and cajole people into talking about how to make our charity world even stronger and healthier.
In January this year I invited my son Matt to come along with me to volunteer on the Greek island of Lesvos where thousands of refugees were making the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey, working with a small charity based on the island. He had always been happy to support me in my voluntary work and was glad to come along. We worked there for three weeks meeting some amazing volunteers from around the world and helping the vulnerable refugee families and children, some of whom had been on the road for months, giving them dry clothes, food, and information for their onward journey. (I’m sure I’ll write an article about the trip at some point to share our experiences).
Whilst helping Matt with oodles, a new fundraising platform to engage supporters, he suggested that my experience and advice would be useful to both the general public and the charity sector, and so he has provided this platform for me to talk to you. Although I must admit that the only thing I’ve ever written before is a school essay nevertheless I’ll do my best and so…