We spoke to Lise Hudson, rector of the independent High School of Dundee, one of the oldest in the UK, but with a refreshingly modern outlook.
Part of my vision for the school is that we make a significant impact through local community outreach in and around Dundee. The way we interact with our external stakeholders in this ever-evolving city is as important to me as the care we put into the developing and nurturing our 200 staff and 900 pupils. All three commitments are vital, and they all have an influence on one another.
When I spoke to your founder Caroline, it set off so many bells in my head for how I’d like us as an organisation to be able to make a difference locally. I want to be able to utilise the skills and experience of the Social Good Connect team to monitor and capture our commitment to volunteering and help us build on it. I think your network will help us develop some valuable partnerships. It is such a brilliant, efficient way of connecting resource to need – it is that simple.
Employee volunteering provides an enriching experience for employees and develops them more directly than any fundraising event could achieve. The emotional intelligence involved in volunteering is a beneficial skill to develop, for staff volunteers and potential student volunteers. Whilst academic credentials are still viewed as the most important thing to many parents, it’s rapidly becoming the case that emotional intelligence – qualities such as empathy, listening, communication and teamwork – are what our young people will need more of to thrive in the world of work. Volunteering to help people from different walks of life with situations vastly different to your own, challenges your perceptions and the filter through which you view life.
I became rector just over two years ago, having been with the school for 30 years, and I’m on a mission to refresh our vision and articulate our purpose, internally and externally. When people visit the school they’re often surprised by how normal, warm and friendly we are, being one of the oldest in the UK and dating back to 1239! I want to demonstrate that we’re committed to making our resources, whether that’s people, time, facilities or space, available to the local community. Partnerships like this will help us do that.
The key strands of our purpose are sustainability, staff development and community outreach. Social Good Connect will help us with that part perfectly. We’ve set up a new Board-level group called Charities and Community Outreach and we have staff champions ready to make the most of our relationship with your platform and team. Our input to the community needs to go beyond fundraising. There’s often greater value in giving the time of our people than purely financial help.
This week (12th May) we’re introducing our partnership with Social Good connect to the whole organisation. Over time I’d love to see many of our teachers and support staff applying for roles, even if it’s to give just an hour of their time and skills now and then to someone less fortunate.
The potential for connections with charities and other like-minded originations in our Dundee community. As well encouraging our staff to volunteer in the community, which of course is what Social Good Connect exists to help us do, we’d like at some point to be able to get young people involved. That might be students who aren’t currently volunteering but might like to try it for a cause close to their heart. So it’s a bit different from your usual partners. But we would love to develop that idea with your help, because I’m so struck by the powerful contribution I see young people making. Most are not even aware of the incredible impact they are having on someone else’s lives – it’s just become part and parcel of their DNA.
It’s hard to argue with the purpose-led basis on which Social Good Connect was founded. It’s affordable and there’s obvious value in connecting different communities and connecting different parts of the same community. There’s huge potential with this platform. If you want giving back to be part of your organisational culture, as we do, then it’s the ideal place to start building that, or to increase your current social impact.
As for us, if young people coming into our school see that volunteering and nurturing emotional intelligence is a part of who we are, and if they follow our staff’s example by getting involved themselves, then they open themselves up to a whole range of new and previously unimagined career opportunities. For staff and students, volunteering is never just about the role, it is about the setting, and the people you meet along the way.
As for Social Good Connect, I think you’re pushing against an open door, especially at this time. The potential impact the platform could have on the way communities help one another is huge, and it’s important for us to play a part in that.
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