As in many jobs, life at Bracken is often pretty full on as we juggle our workload to ensure that all our clients’ events and the management services that we provide are delivered at the highest quality possible. There are times when a job has been successfully completed, all we feel like doing is having a long soak in the bath or collapsing into bed and not getting up again.
My friends would tell you that I actually thrive on that level of activity and, whilst I do get the urge to hide under a stone every now and again, I am generally filling every waking hour with something or other.
One area of activity that I am really involved in, which provides a very different viewpoint on my working life, is my role as Trustee of a charity which is based in Nottingham but runs a 650-strong school for kids who otherwise wouldn’t get an education out in Guatemala. Despite economic growth within the Central American region, Guatemala’s statistics read like sub-Saharan Africa with over half of the population living in abject poverty and almost 50% of children under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition. Those living in poverty face strong prejudice and have limited opportunities due to their economic backgrounds. The school helps lift children out of the poverty trap through education, something that we often take for granted in the UK
I happened on this amazing charity, Education for the Children, (www.eftc.org.uk) in 2012 and went out to work with them for three months in January 2013. If I thought work at Bracken could be strenuous, I could never imagine just how worn out I would be at the end of each and every day working at the school.
There is and was so much to achieve and with its growth (50 new excited pupils start every year) the administration of the school becomes more complex.
On my return, I realised that this wasn’t just a ‘break from work’ after which my life would go back to normal. In fact, there was as much to do over in the UK, as the head office is so minimally staffed, that any additional help was welcomed with open arms. In the meantime, I have become a Trustee of the charity, working to ensure that there is proper governance, supporting HR processes, providing expertise on a number of topics and helping create a network of supporters who can offer skills or funds to keep the pupils in the education system.
We have much to do but a great deal to be proud of. With the bilingual education that the school offers, we even get parents of children who can afford an education asking if they can pay to send their children to the school!!
So, as far as work life balance goes, the work at Bracken inspires me to share the expertise I gain with something very fulfilling and close to my heart and when I’m at Bracken I’d like to think I am bringing a well balanced point of view to work.
Still, you might have to ask my colleagues and clients about that!