What is it like to work for the world’s largest charity protecting children who have lost their parents? Neelam Dave, our Head of Programme Funding, shares what she enjoys most about her role with us, and her advice for starting your own career in the charity sector.
What made you want to work at SOS UK?
The work we do through SOS Children’s Villages globally was definitely the main reason I wanted to work for SOS UK. Working for the most vulnerable children, for an organisation that has the belief that children deserve more than surviving, they deserve to thrive and reach their full potential really resonated with me.
Our focus on working with vulnerable families at risk of break down, supporting and strengthening them, helping not just children or families, but communities, to lift themselves out of poverty, means our programmes have a long-term sustainable impact.
It was also an exciting time for SOS UK when I joined, with a new Senior Management Team in place, that had a bold new vision and big ambitions. Being part of the team that took SOS UK in a new direction was an exciting opportunity, which I knew would challenge me and enable me to grow personally and professionally.
What are the top three things about your job?
Working as part of a global federation. I enjoy working with international teams to develop and work on projects and proposals together. It’s a collaborative process where local experts from our implementing countries and SOS UK work together to create strong projects and proposals which address the very real need on the ground. My background includes programme management so having a role in which I can draw on that experience as well as grant management is wonderful!
The supportive work culture at SOS UK mean that I enjoy coming into work every day. I know that I can reach out to colleagues for support when needed and people are always willing to take the time to share their expertise and thoughts with you.
I recently had a deadline for a large funding application and the whole office were there to support in any way they could, from getting me cups of coffee to proof reading sections. It was a team effort and every person at work, even those not in the fundraising team, were rallying around me. We made the deadline, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my fabulous colleagues!
The flexibility the role allows me. I have along commute into work and having the option of working from home one day a week and flexibility in terms of working hours helps me keep a work-life balance.
Where did you work before joining SOS UK?
I worked for Cambridge Global Health Partnerships, a global health programme which is part of Cambridge University Hospitals. It establishes and manages global health partnerships between the hospitals and low and middle-income countries, working on healthcare systems strengthening and local capacity building.
How did you first get into working in the charity sector?
I had always wanted to work in the charity sector and through my educational career I had undertaken projects and fundraising for various international NGOs. I started working in the charity sector initially through internships in small organisations, through which I was able to develop my understanding of different roles within charities. It was vital experience as I was able to recognise and develop my experience in areas that I was interested in.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to get into the charity sector?
Be agile and flexible! The charity sector and INGO sector particularly is sometimes difficult to get into. The charity sector particularly looks for individuals whose values align with theirs and who have transferable skills. Be patient about getting to work on the right cause and build your experience in charities more generally first – you will get to work on some great causes as you build your experience!
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I would like to still be in the INGO sector working for a cause close to my heart and hopefully to have a strong institutional partnerships portfolio!
Would you like to work for SOS Children’s Villages UK? Check our current vacancies and find out how you could work with us!