In honour of National Mentoring Awareness Day (27th October) here is about how a working Mum has created one of the leading Mentoring Support Organisations in the West Midlands.
Stop for a moment. Consider your career. Do you know what has driven you to this very moment? The boost that gets you up and out every day? This month’s Inspirational Mum is Kelly Round, the Founder and Director of Our Hub, describes how her values have moulded her career and led her to set up a Social Enterprise.
As a teenager I recall standing in an alleyway with my friends who were ‘up to no good’ and I wondered to myself why no one helped my friends. At that moment I decided that I wanted a job where I could help young people.
Looking back I didn’t engage with education with much enthusiasm at all and often signed myself out of school for made up reasons! However I did fairly well in my GCSEs. When the time came to decide on my next step I told my Mom I wanted to be a Social Worker. She told me that it was too dangerous and to pick something else. In true teenage style I went dramatically the other way and enrolled on a Beauty Therapy Course! It cost my parents hundreds in uniform and equipment and I think I managed 4 months…it really wasn’t me!
I took the rest of the year out and decided to go back to my original idea of social work. I did my A Levels and became a volunteer Referral Panel Member for the Youth Offending Team – I loved this and did one or two nights per week. I continued on to University and whilst there
studied Youth, Crime, Society and Communities which led me to consider other careers.
Before even finishing my last trimester I got a job as a Youth Inclusion Worker at Nacro; a crime reduction charity. I worked with young people aged 8 and over who were at risk of offending or had committed minor offences. I loved this job, it was exactly what I had dreamt of doing just five or so years ago. I learnt so much and very quickly!
Working with children and young people takes a whole range of skills and training; some of which I had and were able to improve on others were completely new to me. For instance; supervising a young person, even as a youth worker requires an element of ‘parenting’…something I had never considered. It required gaining respect, setting boundaries and being a positive influence.
After redundancy I moved on to work as an Extended Schools Coordinator for Birmingham City Council, this was much less face to face work but it gave me an opportunity to overcome one of my only frustrations when practicing youth work and that was ‘Funding’! I always used to dislike the fact that our work was focused on what funders wanted rather than what young people needed. My role within the council allowed me to understand local needs and direct the funding we were allocated to services which addressed them – perfect! I also got to go into schools and visit the provision we funded so I still got a feel for working with young people but now I had more of an impact on the services available.
Two years into this job I had my daughter, Effie who is now six. I remember the excitement mixed with anxiety when the blue line appeared in both boxes – excited ( “I’m having a baby!!” ) but scared about what people at work would say!
It was a demanding job that required full-time hours and I didn’t have a team around me to pick up any slack. The first few colleagues I told were genuinely happy for me – providing ginger biscuits, ginger tea and anything else to ease my morning sickness! However, would you believe that the first two people I told who were ‘managerial’ were more like ‘politely happy’ for me! The question after the congratulations was often ‘So was it planned?’ and I almost felt guilty for saying ‘Yes’.
This just made me determined to show everyone that I could do this job and have a family! I arranged my own maternity cover, I completed three-months of work up front ready for my leave and returned back full time after six months maternity leave.
Redundancy as a golden opportunity
I fell straight into a routine of work, parenting, and childcare arranging and loved it and yes; I proved I could do it! However, once again I became redundant but I saw that this was my golden opportunity! With the support of all the contacts I had made in my Extended Schools role and with a very clear need for services in Sutton Coldfield what better time to go it alone!
We were given about 7 months’ notice of the contacts ending which gave me the time to make plans, so whilst still employed by the council my managers and steering group supported me to develop a social enterprise which would sustain some of the services that were being lost through the dissolution of Extended Schools.
In 2011 with Effie just one-year-old I became Director, Manager and the only employee of Our Place Community Hub CIC. The aim of the service remained similar to that of Extended Services and, now even 5 years on, Our Place have strong links with local schools helping us to work together. We deliver advice and support services for local families struggling with a whole variety of issues such as family breakdown, loss, trauma, attachment, parenting, friendships and bullying, unemployment, care commitments and much, much more. We deliver some of this support at Our Place Community Hub and some is delivered through our mentoring programme which is works in schools, homes and local community venues.
Being a Role Model
I’m no longer the only Director or only employee either. Our Place has a strong dedicated board of Directors, a full management team and no less than 43 volunteers (and growing)! Every day I am proud of what I have achieved at Our Place. I am proud of my colleagues/my team, of the work we do to support others. I am proud to be a working Mom who loves her job and who every day has the opportunity to model to my daughter the highs and the lows of hard work and commitment.
As many people will tell you, being a working parent in a demanding role has its challenges…how many others have been taking the all-important work call whilst your child is napping only to have to leg it to the garden when they wake up and start crying?! Have had dribble in the laptop keys?… and a work mobile slam dunked into the toilet?! I wouldn’t change it for the world though and now my daughter is older she comes to work in the school holiday, helps out at events and has even done her own fundraising for Our Place!
Throughout my working life I have had many challenges and on reflection these have all been learning opportunities. From handling the ‘Was it planned’ responses to my pregnancy through to managing or working with individuals with vastly different values. I now see each challenge as a ‘Storm’ and one of my favourite phrases is ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain’.
I have been known to say to colleagues ‘I’m dancing in the rain!’ when it is a time of stress/challenges or ‘Its ok we are ‘storming’ and once we are through it will ‘norm’ and ‘perform’ so we will be even better for it’.
Kelly’s last piece of advice
I have helped quite a few other people set up a CIC or constituted group so that they can follow their dreams. For anyone that out there that has passion and energy and wishes to set up an organisation to make a change – I say go for it! The journey is amazing and so fruitful in happiness, sense of achievement and pride but it’s not always an easy path to take.
Be prepared for the setbacks, the struggles and the unexpected but don’t let it phase you, the challenge will make you stronger, more skilled and will open further doors of opportunity!
If Kelly’s story has inspired you, Our Place Hub are always on the lookout for more mentors to support their mission. Find out more, and how to fund raise, through Our Place Community Hub.
My Facebook Group is The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox. Join to speak to like-minded, supportive parents and access my coaching and coaching support every week, for free, during our Questions and Answer sessions.