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How I Became A Charity Co-ordinator

20th December 2023

The Post: Co-ordinator of The Salvation Army Family Appeal

The Post Holder: Jacqueline Wright

A desire to help others has guided Jacqueline Wright in her career with The Salvation Army.

Give a brief outline of your career to date

I left school at age 18 to work in Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in their Buildings Office.  During this time, I had the opportunity to do a three year Community Assistance programme with The Salvation Army with the intention of going back to QUB at the end of this time. However, I knew this was the role for me so, instead of heading back to Belfast, I went to The Salvation Army College in London where I studied and, after two years, was ordained as a Salvation Army Officer.

I have been involved with The Salvation Army Family Appeal on and off for about 40 years or more.  The Family Appeal has been running for over 43 years. In 1990 my husband (who has worked alongside me over the years).and I were tasked with the re-evaluation of The Family Appeal  Since then I have seen the Family Appeal grow and develop to what it is today.

Over the past seven years I have been coordinating support from many interesting groups, businesses and individuals.  This year we have support from partners including Tesco, Bridge Commercials and Glentoran FC – to name but a few.

I’ve also met some interesting people along the way – Jedward, Eamonn Holmes, Michael O’Neill, Warren Feeney and of course, the man himself, Father Christmas!

What was your favourite subject at school?

History, Home Economics and music.

Did you go on to further/higher education, if so what did you study and where?

NVQ level 4 in Management and a two year residential course while I was on the job training with The Salvation Army for three years.

How did you get into your area of work?

I have been working with The Salvation Army for over 40 years. In 1990 my husband and worked together on the re-evaluation of the Family Appeal and since then have we have been part of its growth and development, especially working with and managing partners, donors and volunteers.

Is this what you always wanted to do?

Whist I enjoy The Family Appeal, my real hope would be that every child is adequately cared for, making my role redundant! Sadly, this is not the case. However my years of experience and training with The Salvation Army has given me the opportunity to work with and encourage those who really benefit from our work.

I’ve always enjoyed working with people and I especially enjoy working with our team of volunteers, which varies from year to year but they’re always a  lovely group. They come each year; some give a few days, some a week and others for the whole of the month of December.  We have great fun and I do try to make the task as light and as happy as possible.

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

Across all parts of my job the essential part is to have a heart and kindness to accept and help those people that society often bypass. Management experience and qualifications will be helpful when it comes to coordinating partners, donors, organisations, businesses and volunteers.

Are there alternative routes into the job?

Not really, if you care about helping people struggling or in need – that is the only route you need to know.

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

The ability to concentrate on the need to help others especially helping families and children.

What does a typical day entail?

No two days ever the same.  A constant barrage of calls and emails to respond to; giving advice; receiving donations; making up parcels and very often lying in bed at night worrying that there are not enough gifts on the tables to make up the next batch of groups needing our help.

I dread to think of the number of parcels I have made up during this time, hundreds of thousands no doubt.  Each year I panic thinking there will not be enough but the lovely generous people of Northern Ireland never let us down and there is always sufficient to go round.  I can only do what I do because others are willing to help, giving time and donations to the Family Appeal.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

Best part of this job is being able to accept donations and hear stories of why people are motivated to give and how families benefit from our Family  Appeal. The most challenging part is realising that we are probably only skimming the surface and that those who really need our help are too scared to ask for it. I would love not to have to do this task each year, but the need is great and the opportunity to share and alleviate that need is important to me. 

Why is what you do important?

My work is important because I relish the opportunity to serve and help others.  For me, this is the Christmas story brought to life again. Remember too the story of the Good Samaritan? I don’t ever want to be that person who walks past and ignores those in need especially children.

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
If you have a strong call to help others, don’t ignore it, follow that path.

If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?

Something that involves helping those in need.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

Advice – you can only do so much.  I once heard someone say ‘you can always make a living by what you get but you can only make a life by what you give’.

Describe your ideal day off

Baking with my grandchildren.

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

Do your best and remember the real purpose behind what you want to do.

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