Social Enterprise Day 2012: Day in the life of a Development Officer – Part 1
Mike Williams is a Development Officer for the Social Enterprise Support Project based in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Bangor Office. Here he shares an insight into a typical day in his working life:
My alarm rings at the usual time of 6.30am. I do not have far to travel this morning so I get up leisurely at 6.45, have a shower and breakfast before catching up with the news and setting off to work at around 8.15. I live close to my Bangor office and it usually takes no longer than 10 minutes to drive in, although the morning traffic on the Britannia Bridge was quite heavy today and its 8.40 by the time I get to my desk. Still, most of my Cardiff colleagues would envy this.
I’m working in the office this morning and have time to catch up on emails and other correspondence before ensuring that my preparation for the day’s two meetings is complete. I take the opportunity to telephone a couple of new client groups to ensure that they remain comfortable regarding our discussions last week – both remain positive about their projects and have no further questions at this time.
I received two further client enquires yesterday and at 11am I work through their enquiry forms to ensure that the Social Enterprise Support Project is the most appropriate source of assistance for them. Under the terms of this project we are tasked with helping social enterprises and co-operatives that have the potential to grow and contribute to their local economy, and whilst not all the enquiries I receive fit into this category I am pleased that the two applications in front of me seem to fit very well. I therefore telephone the principal contact for each group to arrange an initial meeting which will allow me to look deeper into their proposals and provided them with an opportunity to ask any questions they wish.
By noon I have agreed meeting times and venues with both clients and break for lunch. I usually try to take a short walk during the lunch break because this is a sedentary lifestyle, either sitting behind a desk or in the car on my way to and from meetings. Often, if I am working in the office I will take lunch at home as I live so near and make a point of stretching my legs, even if it’s only for a brief stroll.
I am back behind my desk before 1pm and answer a few more emails before leaving at 1.30pm for my first face-to-face meeting of the day. I am heading to Llangefni, about 20 minutes away, to network with the manager of a locally-based grant fund which was recently launched and is specifically available to social enterprises. During the meeting we discuss the rules of the grant and some of the practical implications which are emerging as it starts to roll out – these are things which are difficult to anticipate in theory and I find the discussion very useful as the grant will undoubtedly be beneficial to several of my clients.
I’m back in the office by 4 o’clock and have time to answer a few more emails as well as respond to a couple of telephone messages before I leave, early at 4.30pm, for home. It’s not a short day, however, as following a cup of tea and a quick snack I make my way to Beaumaris to meet representatives of a group I am working with there, the meeting scheduled to start at 6pm. Evening meetings are not uncommon in my work – the community groups which I support comprise a number of individuals, many of whom are themselves working and can therefore only meet outside normal working hours. Although it is often possible to meet with a few available representatives during the day, if I do need to speak with everyone the meeting invariably takes place in the evening, which is all part of the service.
The group I am meeting this evening is in the process of negotiating with the local authority to take over the running of the town’s leisure centre on behalf of the community. Whilst the authority is very supportive I have been mainly working with the group itself, which on previous meetings had decided that the most appropriate legal structure will be that of a charitable company limited by guarantee. The first step is to create a company and I have therefore prepared a ‘memorandum and articles of association’ for the members, based on their own preferences, which will be acceptable to the Charity Commission.
The purpose of the meeting this evening is to ensure that these rules are acceptable to everyone within the group and to explain the main responsibilities of company directors before asking group members to complete the appropriate documentation for Companies House, which I have also prepared in advance.
The meeting itself went very smoothly as those involved are a strong team, knowledgeable and fully committed to their cause. Even so, it was approaching 9.15pm by the time everything was concluded, but I was able to set off home in the knowledge that I had been able to make a practical contribution to their cause.
If you are based in North Wales and need more information about support for Social Enterprises available through the Wales Co-operative Centre, visit our website www.walescooperative.org or call 0300 111 5050.