Making a difference whilst getting on the road to recovery

Humanitarian Leadership Academy
Margaret Cheng
Margaret is a research professional with over 30 years experience.

Margaret Cheng tells how using her skills made her feel valued again providing expertise that charities could not otherwise afford

I had a stroke two years ago. I couldn’t work for a long time but gradually I realised I was ready to contribute again. And then, at a meeting of my stroke survivors group, I heard about Reach Volunteering.

I was very impressed with the Reach site and with the fact that it offered opportunities for skills-based volunteering. I am a research professional with over 30 years’ experience both in the private sector and running my own business. I’ve worked in IT and telecoms, finance, healthcare, utilities and professional services.

I was also impressed that the application process was two-way.I could apply for an opportunity, or the organisation could contact me if they thought I had the skills they were looking for. I did not initially apply for the opportunity with the Humanitarian Leadership Academy as I didn't think I had the relevant experience. But of course they were interested in me for my research expertise, so my lack of experience in humanitarian issues was not a problem.

I did not initially apply for the opportunity because I didn't think I had the relevant humanitarian experience. But of course they were interested in me for my research expertise...

The Academy was about to commission market research in Kenya and the Philippines and needed assistance from a volunteer with research experience to join the project board.

Subsequently, I also became a trustee at Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC) after I saw the volunteer opportunity on the Reach website. As a trustee, I attend quarterly board meetings and have had input into the new strategy and brand redevelopment.

By volunteering, I am doing some really worthwhile work that has increased my sense of self-worth and self-esteem and has been beneficial to my recovery and wellbeing.By providing professional skills, I am filling a gap that the charity might otherwise not be able to fund.”

RIDC carries out research and publishes information to enable disabled and older people to live independently. The Academy is a global learning initiative for the humanitarian sector.Its mission is to enable people around the world to prepare for and respond to crises in their own countries.

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