Volunteer Profile January 2022

To kick off 2022, we’re thrilled to profile Lisa McLean, Inclusion and Wellbeing Adviser at Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), who is a truly dedicated and passionate volunteer. 

Lisa has taken part in many ELBA volunteering activities, including BoardMatch and elderly befriending calls. Lisa tells us about how her understanding of and passion for volunteering was instilled in her from a young age, from her childhood summer holidays, spent accompanying her mother on her volunteering activities. Lisa’s  belief in the importance of volunteering is well described here and this is an inspiring read! 

Your name and job title: Lisa McLean, Inclusion and Wellbeing Adviser

Company: Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

Why do you volunteer?
My mother was a nursery teacher. Throughout our school years she was always off during the school holidays and would take us (me and my siblings) with her when she volunteered – visiting hospitals, supporting the local city farm or attending lunch clubs with Newham Mind. Although we would have preferred to spend all the holidays playing with our friends in the park, I think that she fostered a volunteering spirit in me from an early age. I’ve done lots of volunteering throughout the years, including being an Appropriate Adult, a police custody visitor and even volunteering at the 2012 London Olympics! More recently, I have been helping out at a local foodbank and am currently a telephone befriender, an opportunity through ELBA where I call an elderly person once a week.

At the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), we have fourteen employee networks, which are an important and valuable staff resource. One of which is the Giving Something Back Committee, which I had volunteered on for six or seven years during which time FOS has partnered with Alzheimer’s UK, Havens House Hospice and the London Air Ambulance. I continue to work closely with the Committee in my current role as Inclusion and Wellbeing Adviser.

Because of my long association with Newham Mind, and having been born and brought up in Newham, I was excited to see that through ELBA there was an opportunity to become a trustee with Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham. I was also aware of the poverty of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation on boards, whether corporate or third sector, and so I went on an ELBA BoardMatch event in 2019 and was selected by Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham as a trustee. I have been on the board officially since April 2020.

What have you gained from your volunteering experience?
Going through the ELBA BoardMatch process was interesting! The event itself was like a speed dating event. There were about 12 or 13 charities all in a room and each had 10 minutes to talk about their work. You then had the opportunity to go to the charity that piqued your interest and speak to their representative in depth. I already knew the CEO of MIND through some previous involvement I’d had with them so naturally gravitated to them. I had to complete a form saying why I wanted to volunteer with them and what I thought I could bring to the board- then I had an interview and was approved!

At the beginning there was so much to learn, about the charity itself, the trustee role, the Charities Commission, etc. The onboarding process was thorough and although it was a lot to take on, over time I have learnt more and more about the role and am now the trustee safeguarding lead!

Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague and if so, why?
I would recommend volunteering to any of my colleagues. There are so many worthwhile charities out there that need people, so finding a charity that does something that you can relate to isn’t difficult. Also, you get the opportunity to meet people you might not ordinarily meet, and develop your skills, perhaps in an area that you are not so familiar with. For me it’s been speaking out to a group of people who are all very senior in their day jobs, learning about how charities work and are funded, learning how to think about strategies, interviewing potential new trustees and, more recently, having taken on the trustee safeguarding lead role.

Also, decisions that affect people are made at board level and I believe the boards should reflect the people that are affected, and so I would encourage my colleagues to join a board, especially people who may have a disability, from an ethnic minority background or the LGBT+ community, so that the voices of underrepresented people can be heard.


Thank you to Lisa, for all your wonderful support!

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