Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Cedar Garden Sessions: Helen Wake

It’s that time again! Cedar Garden Sessions is back and as always, Hannah, Brand & Web Marketing Officer, is interviewing a member 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.

This month, Hannah speaks with another Helen from the team – there are a fair few! This time, Helen Wake, who works at Penny Brohn as HR Advisor to the organisation.

Hi Helen, thanks for joining me. It looks like we’re unfortunately back to the doom and gloom of drizzle and grey skies.

Yeah it’s a shame!

Still, it’s nice to sit in the garden for a while today. So tell me, how did you come to work for Penny Brohn UK?

Well, I previously held various HR roles within a Financial Services organisation and having been made redundant took a break from my career to have more time at home with my children. I always knew that I would want to get back into HR and made the decision quite early on that when I did, I would look to work in a different sector.  The vacancy for an HR Officer (as it was then) at Penny Brohn came along at just the right time. I spotted the advert shortly before the vacancy closed and remember pressing send on my application email at about 1am in the morning!

Oh wow! What a lucky last-minute spot. I bet you were delighted that you made the effort when you got the job. So what does your role involve?

I look after all of our paid staff with the help of Molly Watkin, our HR Administrator and we cover everything from recruitment to exit interviews!  On a daily basis I provide advice and guidance on all aspects of HR policy and practice, including resourcing and employee relations.  I work alongside line managers, often taking them through the recruitment process or supporting them with things such as absence management or the appraisal and performance framework.

Sounds like it’s a lovely person-facing role – a lot of names to remember! What would you say is the most exciting thing you are working on at the moment?

It won’t sound very exciting to anyone else but I am making a start at re-writing the Employee Handbook.  I want to take it from its current paper format to an electronic version and update it in the process.  Fingers crossed I can make some progress with it before the year is out.

A very practical answer there. But it sounds like you will be relieved when that one is off the list! What would you say is your favourite part of the job?

I can honestly say that I enjoy all elements of my job and appreciate the variety that it brings.  Working with a line manager to bring in a new recruit is always enjoyable and offering a role to someone who I can see is going to bring new skills, experience and a different dynamic to the Charity is exciting. I am lucky to be able to work with lots of different people which is always interesting, we have some very talented staff here who I take the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with.

That sounds like a lovely position to be in… is there a moment that stands out to you as a particular highlight of your time at Penny Brohn so far?

Oh that’s tough. There are many highlights so I will mention my top two.  First off, the day we recruited our current Choir Master as it involved assembling a small make-shift choir for the day. Opting to join the choir myself, each candidate had to teach us a couple of simple songs and it was probably the most fun I have had with a piece of recruitment, especially as I love singing!

Ah yes, I remember that day well. It was a lot of fun and Doug was fantastic! You mentioned another thing…

Yes! In my time here so far I have made three trips to London to volunteer for the Moonwalk, which I have enjoyed from start to finish.  There is always a lot of fun on the coach – the quiz is a compulsory part of the trip – and then meeting the amazing women… and a few men, who take part in the walk is always a privilege. During the evening we hold a minute’s silence in the big pink Walk the Walk tent which is so powerful as it never fails to remind us of why we are there and the many people we support, it makes for a very special event.

What a brilliant choice for your highlight! MoonWalk is such a fantastic event. So now it’s time for the ultimate question… favourite dunking biscuit…

1. Gingernut (2 votes!)
2. Custard Cream
3. Caramel Chocolate Digestive
4. Hobnob
5. Regular Digestive
6. Fox’s Creams

Well sorry to disappoint but I am not a dunker!

Another non-dunker! Controversial! 

I just enjoy my tea too much to have a soggy biscuit floating around in it [laughs].

[Laughs] Well you can’t win them all I guess! 

Thanks to our second Cedar Garden Helen for joining me this month. It was great to hear her talk about her time at Penny Brohn. The biscuit leader board is once again stable this month, due to Helen’s tea purist non-dunking ways. Ginger nuts remain firmly top of the podium! 

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.

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