Volunteer Diary – by Andy McLean (from Investec*)
It’s funny how a name can catch one’s attention so easily. So, for a cricket fan with a latent desire in doing some volunteering, “Cricket for Change” had me interested (and hooked!) immediately when I met them at the Inner City World Cup at Lord’s last summer (*Investec are sponsors of the Inner City World Cup). Six months on I am coming to the end of a wonderful experience working with the inspirational team at C4C and the even more amazing young people C4C works with each day.
In this volunteer diary, I have tried to describe what makes C4C so special and the many benefits I have taken from the experience. First though I should say a bit about me.
I work for Investec, which I consider to be the best brand in the financial services industry. Since I started as a temp in 2005 I’ve always considered Investec to have what I call a very caring culture. Our leaders truly care about their staff and in my case this was best demonstrated when they agreed to give me a six-month sabbatical, which is now sadly at an end!
I decided that I wanted to spend the last month of my break as a volunteer and I had the idea of coaching cricket in India but when I looked into it I was disappointed to find out that many charities charged around £1,000 for a few weeks volunteering. So, this made me think ‘why don’t I volunteer at home?’ in the country that has given me so much.
At that point, there was only one option so I called C4C and it has proved to be a great decision. Over the last few weeks I have seen a completely different side of life in London, which just isn’t possible in a typical corporate volunteering programme of one or two days a year.
My experience started at the C4C team meeting where Andy Sellins (the CEO) said something I have never heard a leader say before: that it’s more important to try something and fail or make a mistake than not try at all. I immediately took great heart from this attitude, which I believe is essential for any organisation or individual to progress. Too often in education and in business, we are warned against taking risks.
Next up I spent two hours with Danny Baker and Mark Bond on the Street Elite programme in Bermondsey. I’d met Danny at the Inner City World Cup so I was well aware of his big personality and straightway I saw how the young lads responded to him. I was really encouraged at how well these lads maintained their focus on what was a potentially daunting task, that of setting goals for getting into employment.
In any job application, we are always told that we must have “good communication skills” but what does that really mean? Mark put it really well when he spoke of the need to do things like sending an email to say you’ve done something. Such a simple thing but often overlooked in the business world!
The next day I was with Bassie and Mike on the Rugby for Change work with young offenders at ISIS prison. I did not have a clear picture or thoughts on what to expect, but what I actually experienced surprised me a lot. If I started with a tinge of anxiety about being in a prison, I left with feeling of immense pride at the ambition these young men possessed.
The personal development work that Bassie and Mike have done with the lads to inspire such positive thinking was very evident. Statistics suggest that the chances of reoffending are really high but nonetheless I hold great hope for the guys I met – there was no bitterness even where the punishment felt harsh for the crime committed. Also, there is some real rugby talent in the group of lads I worked with over my three visits.
In Andy’s next diary installment he spends time on the Hit The Top disability sports programme and our Refugee Cricket Project….