At Change Gear we are often asked to facilitate team events and strategy days; so when I received a phone call asking me if I was interested in running an “away day” for the trustees of a charity, I naturally said yes. To cut to the chase I had one of the best days ever working with a wonderful group of people who are really committed to making a difference… but over to their CEO Toby Freeman to tell the story behind the charity and his thoughts on the day.
The Robin Cancer Trust was set up in 2012 following the untimely death of my brother Robin Freeman, who passed away when he was just 24. We are the UK’s only dedicated germ cell cancer awareness charity and our aim is to raise awareness of this rare form of cancer, which includes testicular and ovarian cancers, in 16-35 year olds. We do this through attending events, using the power of social media and giving life-saving awareness talks. Our dedicated awareness campaigns highlight the importance of early detection, promote the signs and symptoms and tackle the ’embarrassment-factor’ in young men and women.
So… In a nutshell, we’ve been rather busy! And it was safe to say that after three and a half years, building the charity from an idea (conceived over Sunday lunch at my Mum and Dad’s house) to a fully registered charity working on a national scale, a change of gears was necessary to help us move forward and achieve our ever-expanding goals. The question was – how do we do it? After a few discussions with the Board of Trustees, the suggestion was made that we contact a professional to help us bring about a solution to our question.
I’m not ashamed to say that at first I was skeptical of the idea of a facilitator. How could anyone join us for an afternoon and sit us down and tell us how to achieve our goals? The goals that we’d spent the past three and a half years working towards? I’m happy to say that within the first two minutes of talking to Karen, my worries were gone, it was clear that she was committed to help our small charity grow and reach our goals. We talked about the history of the charity, our current set-up and where we see ourselves in five years’ time. Karen asked for a brief of what we hoped to achieve from the day and talked me through a couple of brainstorming ideas to get the creative juices flowing! She even asked if she could attend our AGM (held in the morning prior to our session) so that she could get a better understanding of our charity and our community.
On the day, Karen provided an open and honest environment for us to talk about the charity and our goals for the future (and occasionally kept us in-check when needed – sorry Karen!) The guidance she provided allowed us a structured approach to discuss the various aspects for the charity, which highlighted to us the most important factors that we need to focus on in order to reach our vision. What she allowed us to do was reflect upon what we’d achieved over the past few years, and gave us the tools to project five years into our future, and envisage where we want to be and how to get there.
The single most important thing we learnt with our day with Karen was a change in the way we thought about The RCT, and our roles as CEO and Trustees within the charity. We have taken what we learnt and are now applying it to every aspect of what we do moving forward. We now have the tools to structure to achieve our goals and objectives, and hopefully one day see our vision become a reality.
I wish Toby and all the trustees the very best of luck in achieving their vision, they really are the most amazing group of people I have ever met! Look them up at www.therobincancertrust.org and please support their brilliant work.