September 2019 Volunteer of the Month

This month we are pleased to recognise Peter Marlin as Volunteer of the Month. Peter is a Systems Integration Consultant at Accenture, and recently used his skills to provide vital support to Sebright Children’s Centre, a centre for families living in Hackney with children under five. The charity needed help updating the internal system used to track the families they work with, and Peter worked with staff to create a new user-friendly system. Initially anticipated to take one day, Peter ultimately volunteered for three days to complete the work and ensure staff felt confident using the new system.

Sebright Children’s Centre was delighted with the support Peter gave them. Nivedita Samji, Federation Outreach & Monitoring Co-ordinator, said:

“It was great having Peter for IT support for three days. Peter helped me to sort out all the spreadsheets with formulas. Now I am able to use my tracking systems effectively. He is very knowledgeable and helped to teach me how to use spreadsheets in different formats. I also learnt how to use the information effectively by being able to produce a report from it. He had the patience to teach me the information that I needed to know. I really learnt a lot and will endeavour to use my new skillset to improve my IT knowledge. I really appreciate the IT support provided by ELBA and Peter.”

We spoke to Peter to find out more about his experience:

Why did you volunteer?
Volunteering is something that I’ve always wanted to do – I like the idea of giving something back to the community. Accenture encourages employees by annually allowing up to three days leave for charitable work but I never seemed to be able to carve out the time.

That changed in June when our SAP practice organised an event where we did some cleaning and painting for a children’s charity. I was surprised by the satisfaction I felt from that experience and resolved to utilise my charity days. I started looking for more volunteering opportunities which I could fit around my work schedule – ideally those where I could apply my skills (I have been reliably informed by my wife that painting and decorating would not fit into that category!).

When I saw that Sebright Children’s Center were looking for a volunteer, it really resonated with me as I have a two year old and another on the way in November. Child welfare and all things baby related had been very much on my mind, so when I learned what the request was and what the Center delivers, it seemed like the perfect match!

What have you gained from your volunteering experience?
I really enjoyed seeing the tangible benefits that my efforts delivered and knowing that my skills were able to make a difference. We started off trying to fix a specific issue but quickly realised that the problem would reoccur, and that it would be better to simplify the approach, as this would also reduce the need to have regular external assistance. More time was required than initially anticipated but I enjoyed every moment; with the result being more accurate data and less time spent on maintenance / troubleshooting. The fact that additional time can now be spent on delivering valuable services to the local community is extremely rewarding.

From a practical perspective, volunteering has opened my eyes to the great services offered by Children’s Centers all over London and I realised there is actually one very close to where I live (about 50m!). It offers various drop in sessions that my wife and I will avail of in the very near future – a completely unexpected bonus.

Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague and if so, why?
Most definitely. There are so many great causes where we can make a positive contribution by applying the skills that we often take for granted. The feeling of satisfaction from helping is one that has to be experienced to be believed and it’s a great way to meet new people who will appreciate your assistance in areas which otherwise you may not be involved in.

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