My first year at VONNE

In this blog from our Communications Officer, Amy Coates reflects back on her first 12 months at VONNE and her decision to move into the VCSE sector.

This week marks one year since I began my role at VONNE, so it felt like a perfect opportunity to reflect on my first 12 months here and my goals for the future.

I joined VONNE last summer as the Communications and Events Officer for NEECCo (North East England Climate Coalition). Having worked in the private sector for the last 13 years in office administration and event management roles, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector was an endearing curiosity to me but something I knew very little about. As a mum of two with a love for the North East, I felt a strong desire to do something that would support the communities my kids will grow up in and establish environmental initiatives to protect the planet for their future. For the last few years, I’ve been trustee of a youth work charity in Newcastle, Projects4Change, and I was starting to see the value in the VCSE sector but also the fragility of it in terms of funding and support, so I wanted to do more.

The Comms and Events Officer role at NEECCo ticked all the boxes for me, but still felt like a huge step. I was leaving a secure job I had worked in for 13 years to take on a 12-month fixed term contract, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that had pushed my anxiety and stress levels to breaking point! But looking back now, I’m so thankful that I took that step forward!

My first task at NEECCo was to coordinate and deliver a programme of content around COP26, the climate summit in Glasgow, to highlight the climate emergency and our mission of ‘Becoming England’s Greenest Region’. It was a whirlwind few months where I met so many new people, all passionate about working together in a coordinated effort to tackle the climate emergency and a fantastic learning experience of how to effectively communicate to many sectors across multiple platforms.

As my fixed term contract for NEECCo was coming to an end, I was lucky enough to apply for and secure a future role in VONNE’s core team.

As the regional infrastructure organisation for the North East VCSE sector, our role is to support and strengthen the sector, and act as a voice on regional and national bodies. We also run and participate in a number of networks that influence policy-makers within and beyond the sector. We do that most effectively by working with and for our members, so in a recent organisational restructure, a brand new Member Services Team was created and I was recruited as Communications Officer for VONNE within this team.

This role has given me the opportunity to learn more the VCSE sector and VONNE as an organisation. VONNE’s team has doubled in the last 18 months, as we have established exciting new projects and work streams to strengthen and support the VCSE sector as everyone navigates the crucial post-pandemic recovery period and the current cost of living crisis.

As part of the Member Services Team, I’m looking forward to developing our member services and bringing member services into our conversations and communications. I’m also passionate about recruitment into the sector and as part of our Job Finder and Workspace Finder services, will be looking at what we can do to boost recruitment into the sector.  

Working at VONNE has also given me a fantastic refresher course on working within an inclusive, accessible workplace. I’ve been fortunate to take part in engaging webinars and online workshops including:

I’m so thankful to work in such a supportive and inclusive environment where I’m learning every day as well as loving what I do. I’ve learned so much in such a short time, I enjoy seeing the value that voluntary and charity organisations bring to their local communities and the ways in which VONNE supports their voices through our work.

Here's to the next 12 months!