Published: 01 June 2020

Bolstering businesses and championing charities

Deidre Richardson, Centre for Environment and Sustainability Programme Manager, has been bolstering businesses and championing charities.

Deidre Richardson

The Covid-19 pandemic has left many businesses and charities feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility and challenge of weathering an economic storm. Today, we would like to recognise Deidre Richardson for offering her business skills to help those struggling to stay afloat.

Recalling the moment that she decided to volunteer her time, Deidre explains: “In the first few weeks of lockdown, the scale of the pandemic was truly overwhelming, with the news cycle on constant repeat about the global death rate and the economic crisis. Mindful of the effect this was having on me and my family, I decided to dedicate my time outside of work to supporting the community and being a good role model to my teenagers.”

Deidre was inspired by the efforts of a national army of volunteers, including the 750,000 people who signed up to support the NHS. She says: “Thousands of community groups have been set up to support others. This wonderful social cohesion certainly brings out the best in humanity.

“Having a skillset that is more business-focussed, I decided this would be a constructive way to support people in need of an extra pair of hands during these difficult times.”

Deidre’s skills have been honed through previous project management roles in banking, IT and Higher Education as well as experience of running her own business. She used her network to volunteer assistance with business needs ranging from research, competitor analysis and problem-solving to scenario planning, website content and marketing.

Deidre’s contacts responded by volunteering their own skills in areas such as HR, marketing and finance, allowing them to support a variety of small businesses and charities.

Deidre’s efforts have been focused on supporting the Scrub and Face Protection Hub, a charitable collaboration that co-ordinates the efforts of a wide range of industry sectors to source, manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to front line staff. Currently her focus is on promoting a charitable auction called Asks for Masks to raise much needed funds for PPE.

Over the last month, Deidre’s contributions have spanned social media, research, fundraising and marketing. She says: “I still work full-time and I have two teenagers at home so my schedule has been very full. I fit my volunteering into lunch breaks and the hours I would usually spend commuting, as well as evening and weekend work.”

So what motivates Deidre to work seven day weeks to juggle her many commitments? “I recently saw a whistle-blower talking about a lack of PPE; for me it underlined the enormity of what some workers are facing. I worry about a second wave as well as the day that people become fatigued by this subject. I want my volunteering to help leverage donations of equipment and funding now while this issue is still on the agenda.”

Deidre’s efforts have also inspired her daughter: “My eldest had her A-levels cancelled and going to University is now up in the air. I have shown her that even in situations where you feel you have less control, you can take some back by making a difference to the community. She has since contacted a GP surgery, offering to deliver prescriptions. I’m really proud of her for stepping up to support her community.”

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