A day in the life of an Organisational Development Officer, by May Macnair (Basis Project Assistant)
As the Basis Project Assistant my role is very varied – I’m the main contact for the national team, I work on areas of project development, send out Refugee Community Organisation (RCO) e-news, and so on.
To learn more about the work of our Organisational Development Officers (ODOs), I decided to shadow one of Beatriz Fernandez’s training events – she covers the South East region. So, I hopped on a train to Brighton for the day and arrived at the Friends Meeting House, where all sorts of workshops were taking place.
Flashing studio lights indicated a photography workshop, a boy liquidising what looked like beetroot and chocolate was a ‘raw food’ workshop, I later found out, and, of course, there was the ‘roles and responsibilities of the management committee’ training which was why I was there. I met the Oromo Community of Brighton, a local Ethiopian RCO, that run a women’s group, a youth group, and education and language classes. Coincidently I was wearing my blue and white striped Ethiopian scarf which, of course, they recognised straight away.
We started the session by throwing around balloons, believe it or not! Balloons don’t have an obvious link with learning about the roles and responsibilities of the management committee… but they are a great way of starting the day off joyfully, and making people relax.
We then went around the group, introducing our names, what they mean, where they come from, and whether we like them or not. Once everyone knew each other, with the help of an interpreter we discussed the expectations of the day and what each member of the group wanted to get out of it. Beatriz then introduced the background of charities and community organisations, their legal structures, and the pros and cons of being one. I learnt that all charities must register if they have an income of more than £5,000 a year. I also learnt about Members of organisations, and their role in representing the community.
This took us up to break time, when we had some young family visitors who popped by to say hello. After the break we moved on to the roles and responsibilities of the management committee, in particular the chair, the secretary and the treasurer. We brainstormed ideas in pairs, and then fed back to the rest of the group. Beatriz emphasised that everyone on the management committee has equal responsibilities to the organisation, not just the chair. To finish off we did a short ‘energiser’ which involved spelling out the word coconut with our bodies, getting faster each time. This certainly put our spelling and flexibility to the test!
I came back from the day feeling much more knowledgeable. The group was so eager to learn and really engaging, asking questions throughout. Everyone inputted to discussions and openly shared their experiences. And Beatriz was an inspiration; she’s a clear, informed and interactive trainer. Given that this was a Saturday. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action on a weekday!