Joe Pilling, chair of trustees at the New Bridge Foundation, tells us about the part-time CEO opportunity and what it takes to succeed at this charity.
Joe Pilling and New Bridge volunteers celebrating New Bridge's 60th birthday
Tell us about New Bridge Foundation and what it does
New Bridge has existed for the last 60 years to create a ‘bridge’ between offenders and the community. Our volunteers write letters, visit prisoners and keep in contact with those prisoners regardless of where they move to. Any prisoner who wants a befriender can write to New Bridge. We don’t pick and choose between prisoners according to how deserving they are. No one is ruled out because of what they have done.
What role are you currently recruiting for and what does it involve?
We are looking for a part-time CEO to come and shape the future of the charity. The post has been open for three years and now, with more money in the bank, the trustees have launched this recruitment drive. The role will involve leading the small HQ team and around 200 volunteers at the moment. You will be involved in recruiting more volunteers to befriend more prisoners. You will work to raise the charity’s profile and network to find new sources of funding. Looking after our volunteers will also be a key part of your role.
What kind of person are you looking for?
Someone who is committed to our cause and is a collaborative and positive leader. You need to have a flair for becoming a convincing ambassador for New Bridge, as you will need to engage and persuade people to support our work with a group that is out of sight and not uppermost in people’s thoughts. You also need to be a good problem solver with a down to earth approach.
Why would someone want to work for New Bridge?
To help bring hope. Our volunteers, by the friendship they offer in letters and visits, bring hope to some of the most isolated and discouraged people in the country. Our staff are loyal and our volunteers - who are all ages from students to seniors - are highly dedicated.
What exciting projects are you working on?
The trustees are excited about the prospect of getting more volunteers and befriending more prisoners. We cannot meet demand at the moment. Prisoners hear about us from other men inside or from Inside Time, which is the the free newspaper for prisoners that our trading arm produces each month (around 60,000 copies are distributed). It is edited by Erwin James, who is a former prisoner.
What opportunities for training and development do you offer?
You will have the opportunity to do public speaking at New Bridge events, such as the conferences we organise for sixth formers. You will set up new events and network across the criminal justice system. On the one hand you will be making new connections with philanthropists and on the other hand you will be finding out about prisons and meeting governors to sustain the confidence they have in New Bridge.
What tips would you offer applicants?
Be flexible. Have the grace to learn from other people at New Bridge who have lots of experience. Be prepared to challenge them too. Don’t worry if you have a history of offending yourself - just be ready to tell us.
Sum up what it’s like to work for New Bridge
Humbling when you read what prisoners say about their befriender. Energising when there are lots of different things to do such as events, visiting volunteer support groups around the country, interviewing applicants and writing funding applications. You need to be a team player, ready to fill the gaps.