Why I work at Pilotlight: The power of small charities

Polly Wallace-Kruger
Project Manager, Pilotlight

Imagine you’re a grandmother. You love your grandchildren, but after a busy day taking care of them you’re happy that your own children are grown! Imagine then, that your daughter starts to experience mental health issues that affect her ability to look after her kids. What would you do?

This was the dilemma Carol* found herself in. She decided to step in and brought her grandchildren to live with her. Her husband had to work overtime to financially support them all, Carol experienced health concerns and her grandchildren were of course affected by everything going on, making them harder to look after. On top of all this, Carol felt overwhelmed by statutory services; social services and the court system were complicated and bureaucratic, and she didn’t know how to get the support she needed to keep her family safe. 

It was at this crisis point that Carol found Grandparents Plus. Their telephone advice line provided her with much-needed support: Advice Service Lead Jo coached Carol through the legal systems and social services procedures. Most importantly, Jo provided a listening ear, some understanding and kindness through the challenging times.

I met Carol when I visited Grandparents Plus, a charity that started working with Pilotlight in February. Hearing Carol’s story of the difficult journey she and her family have been on opened my eyes to how much a small charity can really achieve. Carol couldn’t speak highly enough of Jo, crediting her and Grandparents Plus with her ability to cope with the struggle to provide a secure home for her grandchildren. It amazed me that Carol could attribute so much to a phone line – that just a little bit of kindness and support, not even in person, could have such a huge effect on an individual and her whole family. 

Speaking to Carol brought home to me how important the UK’s small, specialised charities really are. There is so much value in being able to access support from people who are truly passionate about helping you and have the skills to do so. Without people and organisations like this, so many people would be without the knowledge or emotional strength to deal with their challenges.

Carol and her family are still on a difficult journey but with the backing of Jo and Grandparents Plus she feels stronger and better able to carry on. Carol has even become a volunteer and advocate for Grandparents Plus, rolling out the support they provide to even more people. Meanwhile the Pilotlight project continues, aiming to enable Grandparents Plus to support even more Carols in the future.

Are you a small charity creating amazing impact for your service users? Want to help even more of them? Apply to be a 2017 Pilotlight Partner Charity here. Deadline for applications is 31st July.

*To protect her identity, Carol’s name has been changed.

Service Delivery


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