Ian Pettigrew runs Kingfisher Coaching, helping people, teams, and organisations to develop their true strength; to succeed and to do it in a way that is sustainable. Ian tells us about the profound effect meeting street children in Uganda had on him and what he’s doing to help.
Before Kingfisher Coaching, what did you do?
Prior to founding Kingfisher Coaching in 2009, I spent 20 years in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and had extensive leadership experience in IT and change management.
What do you think about Corporate Social Responsibility?
Whenever I read about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) I often jump to conclusions that it is something that large corporations do – despite my personal experience that organisations of any size can play their part in ’giving something back’ – and I want to share my personal experience of CSR.
I run an SME and I support a charity called Retrak who work to help street children across the world. I first got involved when I took a bit of time off to do voluntary work in Uganda and I got to see for myself just how many children end up living on the streets for a whole variety of reasons, and through no fault of their own. It had a profound impact on me, which led to me getting involved with Retrak.
When did you first get involved with Retrak?
I first got involved with Retrak when I approached them to see if there was anything I could do to help by providing free leadership development and coaching for the UK head office. This was in the early days of starting my business and I didn’t have lots of spare money, but I could spare some time.
How did you become a trustee of Retrak?
After helping Retrak for a while, they approached me to ask if would consider applying to join their Board of Directors as a Trustee. I did, and it has been a real honour to serve on the Board. We have several Board meetings a year, an away-day, and I chair a sub-committee on impact and learning. I really enjoy serving in this way as it feels like I’m getting to apply my skills to something I care deeply about.
What sort of challenges have you participated in for charity?
I’ve run the Great Manchester Run (10k) to raise money for Retrak, abseiled off a bridge in Derbyshire, and zip-wired from the Imperial War Museum North across the ship canal to The Lowry. I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself, having fun, raising awareness, and raising money for a great cause.
Have you held any fundraisers for the charity?
We’ve been fortunate that Retrak was one of the chosen charities for the Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable’s Ball so I’ve always sponsored a table, and invited some of my clients along. It has always been great fun, a chance to raise awareness (and money) and a nice opportunity to introduce my clients to each other.
What has been the best part of working within a charity?
I’ve been fortunate to work with street children in Uganda and this year, I took some time off (along with some of my fellow Trustees at Retrak) to go and visit our staff in Ethiopia and to see our work first-hand. I see regular reports on Retrak impact, but there is no substitute for sitting and seeing these things for yourself. Retrak has a partnership with Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service; each year, a team of officers raise money and visit Uganda or Ethiopia to help in loads of ways, including things like playing football and volleyball with the street children and renovating classrooms and helping in loads of other ways. From the stories I hear from people when they return from the trip, it has always been a profound and impactful experience for them – as it always is for me. It restores my sense of perspective and moves me to do everything I can to help the work of Retrak.
For organisations thinking about supporting a charity, what would your advice be?
If you want to do more to help worthy causes, then you need to think about who you should help and where you should start? If it was me, I would start by reflecting on what it is that you care deeply about – what things really tug at your heart strings? If you can find a way to help a cause that you care deeply about in an area that is in some way related to your organisation’s purpose then I believe that can be a really powerful combination. If you have employees, ask them what they support outside of work! You might be amazed by how much your employees are already helping others in many ways, even if you know nothing about it.
What is the impact of CSR?
You and your employees can learn, grow, have fun, and have your eyes opened. But, even more importantly, you get the opportunity to make a difference that matters.