Meet Eleanor Mitchell
We all get to the stage where we must start thinking about how we will spend our working lives, hopefully doing something we love.
I began working in the charity sector at 17, volunteering to ensure refugees and asylum seekers were receiving appropriate support in a detention centre. This led to many volunteering roles, working with different client groups, including homeless and vulnerable young people, until I got my first job working with people with learning disabilities.
Since then I have worked with almost all client groups and in most roles a charity can offer, from volunteer to project worker to manager and then senior management, with the myriad of responsibilities that any role in this sector carries.
I have focussed on mental health charities for over a decade, which brings a deep knowledge of mental health issues, challenges, statutory and non-statutory service provision and an understanding of the impact of mental health problems and what it means for the clients facing them. This expertise made me realise how important effective people management is and that wellbeing of staff is key to a happy workforce.
I have ended up working with different charities to ensure that operationally and at Board level they are effective. This means excellent management of people and services. I am most happy in a small charity who are a bit of a mess administratively, working with the CEO and Board to reorganise themselves.
My day is usually spent working with managers to improve policy, process and systems, ensuring the charity is working efficiently for their services. Where needed, I advise on income generation with a focus on realistic planning for financial growth through more than one income stream.
The nitty gritty of my day includes operational and business planning, ensuring supervision and good practice around staff wellbeing is met, while upskilling where necessary to ensure the organisation can continue the work I set up after my departure. I love working with teams and staff groups to see what they need first and work up from there.
Charities are facing many challenges and sometimes it is easy to lose the focus, with management and staff all being so busy providing excellent services for their clients. But the more effective an organisation, the more effective the services become. Charities cover hugely different areas of need but largely require the same support: management systems, business planning and the tightening up of operational systems, while ensuring the board are effective and well equipped to make excellent decisions to steer the charity forward.
A bit of a mish-mash of everything. I am most proud of turning charities around that might otherwise have closed, through gaining quality marks, seeking effective collaborations and partnerships for growth. It is lovely when an overworked but committed staff team are buoyed by the changes made in their organisation to help their days flow as easily as possible.