Where's the bit about a cockatiel in my job description?

Much is made these days of new ways of working, from “agile working” (no, me neither) to portfolio careers – the idea being that rather than having one nine to five job you take on a series of part-time or consultancy roles. This is said to keep you intellectually stimulated and add interest and variety to your working life.

So let me strongly recommend this approach - come and get a job in the voluntary sector. But be prepared to be flexible and to embrace opportunities that fall outside your job description. And before the naysayers and doommongers claim this is just a way to get more out of employees for less, it is not.

At TimeBank we have had to develop new ways of working in a challenging climate for small to medium charities. This means individual as well as organisational change. But we are upfront with this when we recruit staff – and clear in job descriptions – that sometimes you will need to do things that we don’t know about yet. That doesn’t mean compromising the successful delivery of the job you were hired to do, or that you will be compelled to do something that you don’t want to do. And yes, it applies to everyone, including our Chief Executive. But it does mean if you are willing and have the time available you might be asked to help a colleague deliver volunteer training in another part of the country for example, or to represent TimeBank at a meeting, or spend an afternoon supporting the delivery of one of our employee volunteering programmes.

On paper, my role as Programme Manager is to ensure our funded programmes are delivered on time, to budget and target, as well as developing new and innovative mentoring projects. But over the Christmas period, which is always an incredibly busy one for TimeBank, as we arrange new language courses for our successful Talking Together project for Muslim women and deliver Employee Christmas Volunteering programmes  for dozens of companies, all the TimeBank team will be working outside their main roles to deliver these events.

For me, this has meant that in the last couple of weeks l have been visiting schools to discuss how best to meet the needs of Muslim mums, helping employees from BidFood sort donated clothing at Acorns Hospice warehouse and arranging for employees from Worldpay to volunteer in a care home putting up Christmas decorations and chatting to elderly residents, many with dementia. And ensuring that the care home pet, a cockatiel, had enough to drink. Water. Obviously.

And honestly, it’s not a chore – l love seeing the contribution our volunteers make and meeting the beneficiaries. It gives me the chance to see first-hand the difference TimeBank’s work makes on the front line with our delivery partners. And l can take away that experience to inform our project development, or to the next meeting we have in Whitehall to discuss with MPs the impact of our work. Now that’s quite a portfolio.

If Andy has inspired you with the exciting diversity you can expect from working for a small charity like TimeBank, do take a look at our latest job vacancy, a part-time fundraising and business development role which is ideal for someone returning to work or looking to add to a freelance portfolio.