Welcome to the first edition of the Cedar Garden Sessions, where Hannah, our Brand & Web Marketing Officer, will be interviewing members of the Penny Brohn UK team to find out more about them and the work they do behind the scenes to keep our services up and running.
First up, we have one of our newer staff members, Harrison Leonard, who is Trusts Manager for our Fundraising and Comms Team.
Hi Harrison! Thanks for joining me in the Cedar House today on such short notice. It’s been quite difficult to find a non-rainy day lately.
No problem. It’s great to be here.
Ok, so here’s my first question of the first ever Cedar Garden Sessions, are you ready?
How did you come to work for Penny Brohn UK?
My wife and I had a baby last spring and found ourselves quickly outgrowing our flat in London. The cost of living had simply become too expensive there, and we also wanted to be nearer to family—my wife grew up about an hour from here—so I started looking for jobs in this part of the country and came across a listing for what is now my role! I applied and had a wonderful time interviewing, and was absolutely blown away by the National Centre and all the good work being done here at Penny Brohn. I’ve worked in fundraising for three and a half years now, and was really excited about the possibility about coming to work for this amazing charity, so it was very easy to say yes when I was offered the job.
That’s very exciting news. Congratulations! Now that you are here and have settled into your role, what exactly does it involve?
So, direct mailings and raising money at community events are the parts of fundraising that many people are familiar with, but actually in the charity sector fundraising is very broad and funds are generated from a variety of income streams. As Trusts Manager I work alongside my amazing colleague Helen to raise money from charitable trusts and foundations. This involves identifying common links between a charitable trust’s areas of interest and Penny Brohn’ s work, and then preparing and submitting grant applications for sometimes larger sums of money than we might raise in other fundraising contexts. Successful applications usually require us to write reports to our funders informing them of how their money has been used and what progress has been made as a result of their gift; so preparing high-quality applications and reports necessitates that we liaise with various managers and department heads to finalise accurate project budgets, collate statistics on the impact of our work, and so on. We also spend time developing relationships with key stakeholders—whether it’s a grants administrator, or members of the Board of Trustees, or the Head of a foundation—in order to build confidence in Penny Brohn’s work, and better understand their interests and expectations, and therefore write smarter, more informed applications.
That sounds like quite a lot of varied work! What would you say is the most exciting thing you are working on at the moment?
Penny Brohn’s Bristol Whole Life Approach aims to provide a complete pathway of care for our clients. This is delivered through a very structured and linear pathway, which in fact is very personalised in terms of our clients lived experience. They receive support through retreats, activities and other programmes that support them from the point of diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond. But from a fundraising point of view, we are exploring ways to expand the appeal of our services to a wider pot of funders. Right now we are working on breaking down some of the services we provide and reassembling them in ways that more directly address our clients’ primary cancer-related concerns. The programmes themselves aren’t changing in any way—there will be no difference in how our clients experience our services—but the way we fundraise for them will. By packaging our services into themes that more closely mirror our clients’ experiences of living with the impact of cancer, we are hopeful that we can reach trusts and foundations who maybe wouldn’t normally consider supporting cancer support charities like ours. It has the potential to transform the way we raise money in support of our work, and I am really excited about it!
Very on message there with the Bristol Whole Life Approach. Good work! Sounds like you have a lot of great projects ahead of you. Now, you haven’t been with us too long but what would you say is your favourite part of the job so far?
I honestly love everything about my job. My co-workers are great, the facilities are amazing, my commute is lovely, the work I do day in and day out is satisfying and enjoyable, and the impact it has on our clients feels special and important. I can’t think of any one thing I do that stands out above the rest—I just feel very fortunate to be here.
Well that was a great answer. But I am going to dig a bit further… would you say there is a moment that stands out to you as a particular highlight of your time at Penny Brohn so far?
There have been several so it’s difficult to narrow them down! It was very gratifying to see the first large grant award I helped secure come in. A few weeks ago I met with the head of a large trust and they reserved a space for me in their car park using a placard with my name on it;it’s corny, but I’ve worked really hard and have overcome some tough challenges to reach this place in my career, so seeing my name on that silly sign felt like my efforts were paying off a bit! And last but not least, watching my colleague Lewis dance around at our Christmas concert in Clifton dressed up as the Penny Brohn mascot, PeaBee the butterfly is a memory that will stay with me forever.
What a choice! A name on a plaque and a dancing butterfly certainly sound stand-out to me. We might even have some footage to share of that Christmas moment somewhere.
Fantastic. I hope so!
Finally, what is your favourite dunkable biscuit?
Has to be a custard cream!
A classic choice. I’ll be creating my personal dunkable biscuit leader board weekly, so watch this space.
Thanks to Harrison for joining me today, giving a little insight into his work and very importantly, his biscuit choices. We’ll be back here with another member of the Penny Brohn team next month. So keep an eye out for the next Cedar Garden Sessions.