My first year at VONNE

In this blog, our Partnerships and Projects Support Officer Georgia Goncalves reflects on her first year at VONNE.

I’ve been part of the VONNE team for a year now! Before working for VONNE I had no experience of the voluntary sector and a year on I’ve learned so much and developed lots of new skills. I’m taking this opportunity to reflect on the projects I’ve been part of over the past year.  

Two of the main projects I’ve worked on throughout the year are the VONNE Climate Action Alliance (VCAA) and Digital Pathfinders.  

The purpose of the VCAA is to support organisations in the North East to take their first climate action steps and start their journey towards Net Zero.  

I started off by taking minutes of the meetings and working with our CEO, Carol Botten, on Catalyst’s Definition programme. During the programme we developed a prototype website and carried out user testing to learn about how to improve the user experience (UX) on the site. We used this learning to inform our work on Catalyst’s Development programme where we worked with Side Labs and Diga Communications to develop a fully functioning web tool and rebranded the VCAA to the Going Green Together Campaign.  

I’ve done presentations for various networks to share the campaign, helped set up various comms channels to engage the sector and taken notes for monthly peer support sessions where organisations can share where they are on their climate action journey. 

I never thought I’d learn about UX and I’ve really enjoyed doing some work around communications on our channels. Most of all, working on this project has encouraged me to think about what I can do to be more green. I’ve even learned how to use a carbon calculator to track an organisation’s emissions. 

Digital Pathfinders helps organisations to adopt digital through workshops and bespoke one to one support with a digital expert – funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority and Digital Catapult. VONNE works on this programme in partnership with Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley, Generator and Steam Digital. I work on the day to day elements of the programme with Anne Fry, our Deputy CEO managing the project.  

It’s been a great experience working on a project right from the beginning and learning about how to manage and report on a project and organise a programme of events. I’ve really enjoyed chatting to different organisations about their digital needs and working with Anne to match them with a digital expert.  

I’ve also been particularly lucky because my role has meant that I’ve been able to attend all of VONNE’s workshops for the programme which have included: 

  • Accessible online content and meetings workshops with Nic Cook and Richard Boggie from Difference North East 
  • Data workshops with Tom Watson from the Good Ship 
  • Jan Debognies’ from Digital Voice’s workshops on Working together online, Digital inclusion -organising training and Digital media, creativity and building relationships 

I’ve learned so much from all of the workshops and have been trying to incorporate these new skills into my work. Shameless plug, but if you haven’t already, register for the programme because these sessions are really interesting and helpful – and I’m not being biased. 

Other work that I’ve been involved in includes: 

Another great bonus of working at VONNE is our training budget. I love learning and I can never resist a free online course. Whilst working for VONNE I’ve been able to: 

  • Do a team disability awareness session with Difference  
  • Go to the Guilty Feminists’ Big Speeches workshop to help improve my public speaking – this was really helpful for me as I tend to blush when I talk and this training taught me to just accept that! 
  • Become a Women’s Aid Ask Me Community Ambassador on domestic violence  
  • Do some of Accenture’s Digital Skills online courses on Future Learn 
  • Start my Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner courses  
  • Start a Mental health first aid and advocacy in the workplace course.  

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far working as part of the VONNE team. Everyone is so welcoming, I get to work on interesting projects and I’m always encouraged to upskill as much as I can. Thanks for having me on the team and I look forward to seeing what projects I’m involved in and what I learn in the next year!