Is it really a year?!?

It’s interesting how different kinds of drama and crisis in all spheres of our lives are measured or remembered.

On the train this morning I caught sight of the date and wondered why it stuck in my mind. I realised it was one of the most challenging days in my professional life when the Office for Civil Society decided not to renew our strategic partnership. This, in our plan (and thank goodness we had one!) was our worst case scenario and involved immediately downsizing our organisation, running a campaign to challenge the decision and worst of all sharing the news with an incredibly dedicated and talented staff team.

So one year on where are we? We’ve certainly been through a challenging year and had to lose some very talented people and completely change the way we work. We’ve honed down the route to our vision to make volunteering part of the fabric of everyday life and a rewarding experience for everyone involved. With our board’s support, encouragement and involvement we’ve considered options like partnerships and merger – But we are still here, still delivering amazing programmes, still working with vulnerable people, still helping people to volunteer and change their life as well as others and still as passionate as ever about volunteering.

The interesting thing, looking back on it, is the way we reacted to the challenge – it took all of us different ways and lengths of time to get there but now we know who we are and we are happy in our new skin. We are a smaller organisation but we have a new business plan which will take us back to sustainability without core government funding, and enable us to grow responsibly in this new difficult economic world in which we live. Our focus is on two areas of volunteering: our mentoring projects tackling complex social problems with a volunteering solution and working with corporates to deliver their employee supported volunteering. It’s what we are good at, have a reputation for and deliver to a high standard. We know that because our funders tell us so. This does not preclude us returning to other areas of our work in the future, nor to reacting to opportunities should they arise but allows us to focus on areas we know we can develop now and maximise the numbers we can help. It means all of our jobs are a little bit different we all have to do more with less but like many in our sector our belief in our product and our worth makes it all the easier to share the load as a team.

So in true TimeBank tradition I brought in cake to celebrate! One year on yes, we are smaller and different - but stronger, wiser, prepared for our new future and no longer afraid but excited about what it will hold.