4/5/2020 0 Comments
I became a volunteer more years ago than I care to think about, when everything was in black and white (sort of!) and my mobile phone was too big to keep in my pocket.
I had told my boss that there ought to be some sort group that I could join, both to meet my peer group and also prospective clients. He hadn’t heard of one but after some serious (hard copy!) research I found such a group and joined. Every month they would have an event at the City of London Guildhall. I noticed that the volunteers often had a lot to do, so I started to lend a hand.
It wasn’t long before they asked me to join their committee, Although keen I had an image of committee’s as being boring and stuffy with a chairman speaking slowly (in a broad Yorkshire accent) and grey men sat around shouting out, ‘order, order’. It turned out to be anything but stuffy as one of my new committee colleagues stood up mid meeting and demanded quite forcefully that things should change. At the end of the meeting she apologized to me and figured that I now wouldn’t want to join. She was wrong. I did join and I also sought to assist in making both the committee proceedings, and the events a lot more dynamic.
At the next meeting it seemed that they didn’t have an event planned for September, so I piped up and said I would organize something. I arranged a building visit to St Pancras Chambers which at the time was empty. A very ornate gothic building, trashed by British Rail in the 1960’s but awaiting its new life as an Hotel and apartments. The event was a success with all places taken. Since then I have organized over 100 events for the BIFM (now known as the IWFM, Institute of Workplace & Facilities Management).
About a year after the St Pancras event, the position of Chair became available and after a vote I was accepted as the new Chair. I drew up a list of aims and set out to make the committee more balanced in terms of gender and ethnicity, make the events bigger and better and have several speakers at each event (if one speaker turns out to be deadly boring, then the other two will counter balance that). I sought to team up with other institutes, meaning we could jointly attract more sponsorship money in bigger and better venues with top notch speakers.
I have gained so much from my volunteering, new friends and acquaintances, tons of CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points and visits to so many interesting buildings. However I know that I have also given back. When someone tells me an event some years ago inspired them to join the IWFM and later on to also volunteer, take the qualifications and develop their career in FM then I know that all the events I volunteered to run were not just a success, but they were also someone’s inspiration!