Challengers has been lucky to count Ella as a member of staff since 2006. Here she shares her experience and many different roles.
I first heard about Challengers through my best friend Amy, who had started working for the charity during the Easter holidays. She explained what it was all about and some of the fun things she got up to on an average day, and I thought it was right up my street! I started working at my nearest scheme Bagshot Play, so I was a little wary as it wasn’t the same scheme as my best friend, but thought I would give it a go.
Everyone in the team was quite new, so we all got to know each other well and bonded over pizza evenings at each other’s houses – there was a sense of team spirit straight away. I remember the passion that the team had and everyone being so keen for the children that came to us to have the best day. I really had the best summer and I was truly hooked!
I went back to uni for a term and was already keen to come back to work again at Easter. When I sent in my availability, I saw there was a new Youth scheme opening in Farnham which sounded exciting. I was lucky enough to be part of the first-ever team to use the Farnham Youth building which was purpose built for Challengers – quite different than the Victorian school that we ran out of before. I remember being amazed!
There was a whole team there were once again new to me, this time there seemed to be some people who had worked at challengers for a while. They seemed so knowledgeable, and I remember thinking wow, they really know their stuff…
As this was a Youth scheme, we went out and about on some amazing trips and the young people had the best time! I loved the work and was keen to carry on working with the youth schemes, really making a difference.
I had finished uni and thought I wanted to be a teacher, so I started working in a school to get some experience with a plan to complete a PGCE, after travelling for a bit. So naturally it made sense to have a weekend job too, which (you’ve guessed it) was at Challengers!
After a few years, I decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher after all. I went off travelling again, whilst having a think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. During my trip, a full-time Deputy Leader post came up at Farnham Youth, so I decided to cut my trip short and get new flights home to be able to interview for the position. Luckily I got it!
I spent the next couple of years as Deputy running Farnham Youth with Ronnie, who was the Leader back then. I look back and just have so many amazing memories of working with this great team, and getting to know the young people and their families really well. Ronnie moved on to become a Project Manager, opening up the space for a new Leader which I naturally wanted to go for! So I applied, and was so happy when I got the promotion! I then continued as Leader for a few more years, working alongside such a strong team at Farnham.
After a while as Leader I was looking for a new challenge, when a Project Manager position came up. This would mean working with lots of different schemes, and seemed like a clear way to progress and challenge myself further. Being a Project Manager was a great way to meet more people working across Challengers. I was based in the Guildford office, which meant working closely with other departments like Marketing, Fundraising and Finance which I hadn’t done before, but I also worked with wonderful teams at other locations and met many more of our amazing children and young people.
Fast forward a few more years and I have now been working in the charity’s Quality team for the last 4 years, and have loved every minute of it. I have recently started looking after staff recruitment, so I can see the journey of a staff member from their starting point with us all the way through which is really exciting.
For me, Challengers is all about the people and culture. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve been working here for 16 years…it really has flown by as I have enjoyed myself so much, and I feel thankful to Challengers for all the experiences, lessons and laughs!
Whether you’re looking for a full-time career, or a part-time job alongside your studies – we’ve got you covered!