Staff Spotlight – Katie McGinness

15 October 2021

Staff Spotlight – Katie McGinness

Katie McGinness, Events Manager, explains why she joined Norwood.

I worked in retail for many years – I think of myself as a real people-person and have always enjoying customer-facing roles and solving problems. That probably also comes from having studied Drama at university. I spent about 18 months travelling around Australia and South East Asia and it was while I was in Australia that I worked for a charity providing respite for parents of children from underprivileged families.

The role itself was fairly donor-facing, which I didn’t think suited me, but working in a charity appealed to my compassionate side. I returned to the UK to look for a new job and when my sister-in-law – who was then a social worker for Norwood – mentioned an opening for a Challenges Coordinator there, I thought it sounded perfect. I’d always been interested in fitness and had run two marathons, so combining charity with my love of fitness sounded ideal.

I didn’t have any relevant experience, but once again my personality won out, as my manager saw my potential and was willing to invest in me. I quickly discovered I was a good fit for Norwood and the wider team and have now been at Norwood for nearly five years. My very first day on the job was about a month before my official start date and it was at the Annual Dinner. That turned out to be a great introduction for me, as I met the team and the donors who supported us and saw the events we put on. I knew I liked it straight away.

I was Challenges Coordinator for two and a half years. During that time, I made proper friendships, particularly in the fundraising and Events team. When the Events Manager left 18 months, it felt like a natural transition for me.

I started in the role as lockdown hit and struggled at first with working virtually. It was a particular challenge for me as I thrive on face-to-face interaction and I love office rapport. I found working remotely very lonely, it was an anxious time and it was hard to resist getting into a negative mindset. I missed collaborating with the team, interacting and bouncing ideas off each other.

The Annual Dinner Reimagined was a real highlight though – we had such great feedback, people found it really refreshing being able to interact with each other and Norwood from the comfort of their own homes.

Although many of our events – including our annual Golf Day – couldn’t be held remotely, we made the best of those we could go ahead with. And although we lost out on some fundraising opportunities with the cancellation of in-person events, we also managed to reduce costs by running events virtually.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about my time at Norwood has been learning about Jewish culture – not being Jewish hasn’t stopped me from thriving in the community environment and I’ve enjoyed building on my knowledge and skill set.

Ultimately the thing that’s made it worthwhile for me has been meeting the people we support and hearing their stories. Seeing families supported by the charity really resonates with me. My motto is that you get one chance at life, so why not use it to make a difference. Your actions can make a difference to someone else. If you can give a little, then do it, because it will mean a lot to someone else.

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