Furlonteer Q&A with Richard Brown
Please could you introduce yourself to us and how you came to hear about Furlonteer? I'm Richard Brown, based in Manchester. My background is marketing, product management and business strategy. I'd worked in the automotive sector at European manufacturer HQs. Before the pandemic, I was planning to set up a consultancy to support business development and training. I heard about Furlonteer on LinkedIn having already been interested in using my background to support charities.
What made you want to want to sign up as a Furlonteer? Doing nothing through the lockdown wasn't an option. I wanted to contribute in some way at a time when help and support are needed more than ever. Working with charities is appealing because they make such a positive impact supporting people in need.
Could you tell us a little about the charity you’ve been matched with and your role in helping them?
Tennis2Be is obviously a tennis charity at heart but also so much more. They are a charity about people, community and inclusion. The pandemic could have been a reason to just pause but Cynthia, its founder, and her team had another vision, namely 'social engagement'. Yes it's a time of 'social distancing' but that's a false description. Better to say 'physical distancing' that should not forbid social interaction.
Social engagement is absolutely crucial for mental health, maintaining purpose through these difficult times and ensuring nobody is left alone. Tennis2Be has already set about supporting communities through home food deliveries. It has a van capable of being used as a covid-secure mobile business, such as hairdresser, and is working on events designed to bring communities safely together.
Which new skills has this experience given you?
My role has been on marketing. The initial challenge was how to promote a tennis charity as additionally a community support organisation. Social engagement has proven the link, as both sport and community action have people at their heart and it's about bringing people together.
I've supported on website content as well as social media and participated in many passionate and exciting brainstorming sessions on strategy. What you learn especially in a crisis is agility. The world has changed so you have to be flexible and adapt to new circumstances.
Also, charities are frugal both in terms of resources and budget, so finding ways to get a message out in a targeted and efficient way is key. Social media and networking are so important in this regard.
What impact do you feel it’s had on your experience of being Furloughed, and are you likely to continue volunteering after it ends?
For me, the main impact is that great feeling of contributing to working as a team with the charity and hopefully making a difference. Seeing the momentum now beginning to build for Tennis2Be is really rewarding. I'm certainly keen to continue volunteering and working with charities post-pandemic. I hope this will be one of the positive legacies for many people going forward.
Could you give any advice or tips to other people considering signing up to Furlonteer?
To borrow an old cliché - years from now when your grandchildren ask you what did you do during the coronavirus pandemic, what will you say? Sign up with Furlonteer today and begin your story.