NAME: Tara Somers
YOUR BUSINESS / ORGANISATION: Homestart in Suffolk
YOUR TITLE IN THAT BUSINESS: Executive Manager
WHEN DID THE BUSINESS LAUNCH 1999
ELEVATOR PITCH – TELL US WHAT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS DOES IN A NUTSHELL:
Many vulnerable families are referred to us each year in need of help and our waiting list is growing. Our crucial support is given through our volunteer home visiting service. Volunteers are carefully matched to a family (it’s a bit like a dating service) based on personality, skills etc. and the support offered is monitored by our experienced team of staff to ensure that families outcomes are met and they receive the best possible service.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BUSINESS’S USP OVER YOUR PEERS?
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BUSINESS CHALLENGE SO FAR?
Upscaling the size of the organisation by 60% whilst maintaining the quality, care and consideration that we pride ourselves on.
AND YOUR GREATEST SUCCESS?
Increasing the funding income by 65% and creating a period of stability for the organisation during a challenging time in the charity world.
WHAT DOES THE NEXT 12 MONTHS HAVE IN STORE FOR YOU?
Organisational growth; we are recruiting and training an additional 120 volunteers to provide 1-1 family support
Developing our offer in new geographic areas
Implementing our new ‘You’re in control’ peer mentoring programme
AND IN FIVE YEARS TIME YOU’D LIKE THE BUSINESS TO?
Have developed some income generation to support the sustainability of the organisation
Have diversified its staffing structure, to improve its fundraising and business development
And most importantly, to continue to be providing significant positive outcomes to local families
NATURALLY, YOU WANT TO REACH CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS AND THOSE WHO CAN HELP YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS SUCCEED. WHO MIGHT YOU WANT TO HEAR FROM?
Any- you don’t know what you’re missing until it’s offered!
WHEN YOU FEEL TROUBLED OR ‘BEATEN’ AT ANY STAGE IN BUSINESS LIFE, WHAT’S YOUR SECRET TO RALLYING YOURSELF?
Maltesers! There is ALWAYS a box of Maltesers hidden somewhere in the office! Sometimes the fact that one of your team gets them out shows that someone has recognised that you’re struggling!
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR, OR HAVE YOU USED ONE? IF SO, HOW WAS THAT?
I’m a little selfish in that I have 2 people that I consider as Mentors, they both fulfil different roles; 1 is a brilliant sounding board, and has the balls to tell me that I’m being a bit daft and whiny, which can help me snap out of things! The other has a great business mind, he challenges me to think of the outcome, and the steps to get to it, as I tend to get a bit caught up in here and now.
I couldn’t do without my mentors, as a manager the role can be very isolating, there are many situations where it isn’t appropriate to talk to your colleagues, and you wouldn’t want to talk to you Board of Directors, so a mentor is a great person to have on hand.
WHAT’S CHANGING ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY THAT MAKES IT SUCH A GOOD SPACE TO BE IN?
Is the charity world a great place to be right now? It’s had a massive shakeup in the last 24 months, hit by scandal after scandal, and there’s no denying that it’s currently a challenging industry to work in. Right now yes it’s a good space to be in, despite the media, as a small grassroots charity, who is totally open book with its finances, operations and outcomes, I feel that we are able to prove our work to anyone that come looking.
Small grassroots charities are able to provide rapid response, common sense, and flexibility, qualities that it is much harder to provide in public services, with the layers of management, reporting and ratifying.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WANTING TO ENTER YOUR INDUSTRY SPACE?
Remember who the customer is, and remember the customer is everyone.
THE PLUG BIT:
AND NOW THE SLIGHTLY LESS CORPORATE BIT:
BEST THING ABOUT EAST ANGLIA:
It’s one of the sunniest counties in England
YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS:
Short, Practical, Fun
To be blonde!!
FANTASY DINNER PARTY GUESTS:
Kit Harrington, Harrison Ford, Christian Slater, Chris Pratt.