Last week was Volunteers’ Week 2022 - annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.
At LandAid, we have met and worked with some absolutely incredible people who have been generous enough to donate their time and expertise to LandAid’sour mission to end youth homelessness.
One such person was Nicole Lasky. Nicole is JLL’s Director of Strategic Development Consultancy, and has donated her skills and time to LandAid’s pro bono programme.
To honour Volunteers’ Week and Nicole’s contribution to LandAid, we asked her a few questions about her time working pro bono with Caritas Anchor House, a homelessness charity that provides housing.
What made you interested in volunteering and giving both your skills and time to the LandAid pro bono programme?
One day I was watching a news programme about the state of homelessness in the UK and the pervasiveness of the problem. Covid was exacerbating the problem and we were going into winter. I felt helpless. Then I thought that maybe I could help somehow if I sought out a homelessness charity. I asked a respected colleague in the property industry which charity he thought has the most impact for homelessness in the UK and he replied "LandAid". And as they say, "the rest is history."
Can you tell us about your work with Caritas Anchor House?
CAH had obtained conditional funding for a housing project, but did not have the time or the expertise to develop the property and, therefore, asked for pro bono assistance from LandAid. Having a development management background, I was thrilled to help.
The project consisted of 15 new one-bedroom en-suited apartments for homeless people. The aim for the residents of CAH and, indeed, for these 15 new apartments, is to bring the residents through a personal and career development programme, leading to independence for the residents after two years. My role was to be the Development Manager, which consisted of creating a financial appraisal/budget, finalising a funding grant with the Greater London Authority, managing the relationship and updates with the GLA, project timeline/programming creation and management, procurement of design consultants, managing the design process and ensuring compliance with planning laws and GLA policies, construction procurement, weekly status reports, updates to the CAH Board, construction management, furniture procurement, payments/budget updates and handover.
What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering?
Volunteering is a powerful way to feel part of something bigger than yourself. If you have a desire to help, consider your own talents and passions and then find a matching organisation. Determine your number of hours of commitment each week to ensure that all parties agree to expectations and that you as a volunteer can deliver what is agreed.
I was surprised at the benefits of volunteering, which are many, including of course a pleasant sense of doing a good deed, but also the people you'll meet along the way, the individual relationships that you'll form and wider networks that you'll become a part of.
What is the best thing that came out of your work with Caritas Anchor House?
I feel a real sense of achievement. While my day job can sometimes become stressful, volunteering work provides so much more. It gives the day a sense of meaning and is a respite from thinking about my own problems.
Are there any lessons you have learnt through your volunteering journey?
I was very lucky entering into relationships with ethical and competent organisations such as LandAid and Caritas Anchor House with ethical and competent leaders, Paul Morrish and Amanda Dubarry respectively. Upon reflection, if I had taken on a large project with organisations without those attributes, it could have been extremely challenging. So, choose wisely, enjoy the process and reap the benefits.
LandAid’s Pro Bono programme matches the knowledge and professional services of companies with charities and not-for-profit organisations across the UK.
These charitable organisations provide life-changing support to disadvantaged young people, families and communities, and they are often under-resourced and struggling.
Through joining the Pro Bono programme and using your professional skills to support these vital organisations, you can make a meaningful difference and, enable them to create greater social value.
The need for skilled services and committed pro bono partners is greater than ever before, as charities face ever-increasing social challenges and funding shortages. LandAid receives high volumes of charity requests and we need the industry’s help to match them.
What services do charities need?
Charities are in need of both specialist property advice and wider professional services.
• Property search and agency assistance
• Project development and project management
• Architectural and engineering advice
• Fit-out and decoration services
• Investment and financial advice
• Marketing and communications support
• Legal services
• IT support
For further information please email Gareth Pettit, Pro Bono Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org