Congratulations to Shaun Waller who last week was ratified as a full Trustee of the charity, after a period of probation. We took some time to get to know Shaun a little better.
Why did you want to become a trustee with METRO?
I had worked much of the previous 20 years or more overseas and, on returning to London, I wanted to feel a sense of belonging and place: being part of a community is very important in that respect. Returning to a more or less nine to five job meant I had capacity to do something in addition to my paid work. I wanted to share some of the knowledge and skills I have learnt over my career with a charity that was a) working in the area of equality and diversity and b) local. I carried out an internet search of the Small Charities Coalition website and came across METRO. As I read about the charity I was impressed by its range of services and was especially taken with the Youth Chances research that had been carried out, which struck me as really important work. I applied for a Trustee position and after a process which included both informal and formal interviews, I was asked to join the Board on a probationary period.
Can you tell us about your work and voluntary experience?
I think I first volunteered when I was an undergraduate: I must have been about 19. I helped out some weekends and during school holidays at a local authority play scheme in Islington and another in Muswell Hill. Not long after I became a Senior Playleader for Haringey Council. I left to start a career in theatre with the early years focused on arts education in schools and community venues. By the age of 30 I changed track again, joining the British Council, a large international charity that builds trusts and relationships between people in the UK and other countries around the world. I started out teaching English but went on to direct some of our operations in South East Asia and Europe. I've been back in London a little over three years now where I work at the British Council head office in a role focused on business change.
What are your hopes for METRO?
I like the direction that the charity has been taking over recent years. It has become more focused and is better at telling its story. Change inevitably brings stresses and uncertainties, so it is right that METRO is putting energy into ensuring its foundations are solid. The recent government comprehensive spending review is likely to result in increased pressure on funding for the charitable sector, so my hope will be that we can continue to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals by meeting the demand for our services and maintaining high levels of quality.
Would you recommend volunteering to other people, if so, why?
I would. Volunteering can bring you into contact with new people and new ways of thinking and working. You can learn a lot more about an area of business or life that interests you and it beats sitting at home just reading about it in a book! Prospective employers love to see job applicants who are involved in activity beyond their usual work. As I mentioned earlier, one of my first jobs resulted directly from having volunteered. Lastly, let's not forget it can be fun and personally rewarding too.
Sarah - Counselling
The help and understanding I experienced from everyone I came into contact with whilst using the Metroís services was amazing.
Abimbola- First Point
It has been a long time since I felt that someone actually listened to me.
Ebere - First Point
I wish this service was around when I was newly diagnosed. I felt my world had fallen apart around me and I didn't know which way to turn for support. You are offering a very valuable service.
Joan - First Point
Thank you so much for taking time to listen to me and truly understand how I am feeling. This is the only appointment I've had regarding HIV that didnít feel rushed.
Simon - Mentoring
By discussing things at such an intimate level with my mentor, I really came face to face with some of the reasons why I was taking chances before.
David - Counselling
Outstanding people. Outstanding service. Outstanding counselling. Truly something that has allowed me to turn my life around.
Kwasi - Mentoring
During the 6 month programme, I developed a close relationship with my mentor. Knowing that I would have to talk to him honestly about what I did in the previous 2 weeks somehow forced me to be safe every time I had an encounter.
Joe - Mentoring
The programme had such an impact on my life that I decided to come on board as a volunteer mentor!
Michael - Counselling
I gained a huge amount of help from the counselling service and would like to thank the service for offering so much support.
Peter- First Point
I felt so relieved to have a named First Point worker who I can call if I need to be referred to a particular service.