Volunteering with TimeBank turned into a life-changing opportunity

Moira Dennison, a mentor on our Leaders Together project, jumped on a barge on the Thames one day ... and the rest is history. I asked her to tell us about her mentoring experience.

So there I was over a year ago sitting at my desk on a rare day in the office when  I came across TimeBank - I suspect I might have been trawling the Guardian jobs pages. Moving swiftly on ...I read the following: 

TimeBank runs Leaders Together - a London based mentoring project which matches leaders from small charities and social enterprises with senior professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds.   Sounded interesting so I clicked through and registered as a potential mentor and went through the process of being accepted and inducted. Then got caught up in organisational mergers and restructures and life trundled on till one afternoon I got a phone call with a potential match.  

Was I interested in mentoring a start up in the renewable energy sector which was based on a barge moored mid Thames.  Honestly - they had to ask? How on earth could I be anything but up for it. Though when I received the email confirming the initial meeting and it came with footwear guidance I did wonder what I'd let myself in for.

Still, clad in leopard print Converse (the nearest things to the 'specified' trainers I possess), I headed up to meet Helene from TimeBank who had arranged the meeting with Jay. Now I'd obviously googled him and the project and was more than excited and intrigued.  My background has been in health and social care but I'd been a long time supporter of environmental change and had been involved in a transition town initiative.

The prospect of clambering onto the rib and going to see November just increased  my enthusiasm - actually I'd been brought up on a river and was notorious for persuading a neighbour to lend me his canoe so I could row over to the weir.  I was five ... and couldn't swim. Safe to say my parents were unimpressed by my sense of adventure. 

Going through The November Project's presentation and business plan it felt that Jay and I could work together and I could help him plot out where he needed to go next.  Truth be told - Jay has an astonishing head for business.  We mapped out our mentoring agreement and milestones and review periods but it really became obvious that Jay could use some additional capacity  as well.  So I mentored and then helped out by taking on some of the work to be done.  And that was how it started.  

Fast forward and it's the start of  2014. The mentoring with TimeBank has finished - it was a six month project - but I'm not finished with The November Project.  During the summer I came on board ( wearing sensible footwear obviously) as a Director.  Without TimeBank I'd never have come across Jay and the November Project - and although I was the mentor I have learned so much from Jay and found out that the sector skills and experiences I've been building up for years were and are transferable into a very different arena.  

Sometimes, something that didn't seem hugely important at the time - a click of the mouse, filling in a form, volunteering for a few hours each month - turns into the most amazing life changing opportunity. I can't guarantee that's going to happen to everyone who volunteers with TimeBank - but if I hadn't clicked that mouse, none of this would have happened for me! 

If you'd like to get involved in Leaders Together, take a look here.