Volunteer Profile March 2022

This month, we’ve caught up with Aaron Grainger, Director of Ecology, at Tyler Grange. Aaron tells us about how he’s been using his 12 days of annual volunteering allowance on ELBA’s Leaders in Partnership programme, coaching a community based senior leader working in a field he is personally motivated by.

Your name and job title: Aaron Grainger, Director of Ecology

Company: Tyler Grange

Why do you volunteer?
Tyler Grange offer 12 days per year for volunteering during work time. I wanted to use this to do something constructive for the local community in East London, near where I live. A lot of our team do voluntary work for conservation charities, which is closely related to our industry. Whilst this is valuable, I wanted to do something that is not closely related to my day job in order to gain a new perspective and a better understanding of the challenges facing local communities in east London.

When I saw the Leaders in Partnership programme, I felt it would be a brilliant way of using my transferable skills to help coach someone who probably faces similar challenges to me in their role. I was extremely pleased to be paired with a senior leader at the Brandon Centre. The charity provides an amazing service supporting young people and their families with mental and sexual health challenges. Improving access to mental health support for those who need it is a subject close to my heart, so I knew my time was being spent in an area that I am personally motivated by.

What have you gained from your volunteering experience?
I think I have learnt just as much, if not more, from my volunteering experience as the person I have been coaching. It is very much a symbiotic relationship – listening to and discussing someone else’s professional challenges gave me a fresh perspective on those I am facing.

It was also really motivational to contribute to the commercial approaches being taken in setting up new services, where I could apply some of the skills I have learnt over the years in delivering similar initiatives for Tyler Grange. It was pretty clear that despite our different academic and professional backgrounds, in some ways our jobs were not too dissimilar. The coaching and mentoring experience is also invaluable, and I have learnt more about how I can improve my approach to this in my day job.

I have also gained insight into the workings of a charity and the amazing work that they deliver, which has been a real eye-opener for me having only ever worked for commercial organisations/government bodies.

Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague and if so, why?
Absolutely! In fact, I already have recommended it to colleagues. ELBA made the whole process really seamless and gave me confidence that my time would be spent in the best way possible. You also develop a close working relationship through the LiP programme. The long-term approach of this mentoring/coaching programme means that you get more time to invest in helping your partner with challenges that would be difficult to assist with in a standalone session. I found this way of working to be much more satisfying. I couldn’t recommend volunteering enough. This applies to volunteering generally, but also specifically the LiP programme.

Thank you to Aaron, for his commitment and dedication to Leaders in Partnership, and to supporting the community.

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