The various departments are aimed at serving members and meeting the needs of the Branch and Regional network. Central Office also takes responsibility for planning major events like the National Indoor Games held every March and PPS Day later in the year.
The Support Services department is dedicated to supporting not just members of the charity, but anyone with Polio and PPS in need of information, advice and support to help them to live fully integrated, active and fulfilling lives.
In recent years, the department has been helping members navigate the changes as a result of Universal Credit and PIP and where necessary appeal decisions. The Support Services team is handling an increasing volume of calls, with over 3,700 enquiries on PPS alone in 2015.
Head of Department Ahmad Butt works closely with Support Service Officers Yvonne Wright, Sarah McHugh and Aparna Tripati.
Head of Support Services
Head of Support Services Ahmad Butt is the former Director of IPR advice centre in Islington and prior to this was the Manager of the Barnet CAB Money Advice Unit. Ahmad was a guest lecturer at the London School of Economics from 1997 to 2010 on their LL.M graduate insolvency programme. He also brings experience from commercial claims firms and solicitors practices.
Ahmad’s depth and breadth of experience is proving a real asset to the charity and members. He has reviewed new ways The British Polio Fellowship can organise Pro-Bono representation for members at tribunal appeals and court hearings, scoring several notable successes.
Recently, Ahmad has been engaged in visiting Branches and Regions to offer the benefits of his insight and advice to members ‘on the ground’ where they need support most.
“The support services department is something we really want to develop and we are now using our resources effectively to assist members in the best ways possible,” said Ahmad. “We have already been able to help scores of members and to see your work impact so positively on their lives and their families brings me and the team lot of personal satisfaction.”
Support Service Officer
Yvonne Wright has worked for the past 7 years in the voluntary sector for two charities and the Watford Community Housing Trust. In addition, on a weekly basis Yvonne works as a counsellor for a mental health charity and the skills she has learnt here have proved invaluable in helping people struggling to come to terms with PPS or facing the complexities of benefit applications.
“I have been significantly inspired by the calls that I have received from our members and have learnt a vast amount already,” said Yvonne. “I am motivated to expand my knowledge of PPS and continue to support our members.”
Support Service Officer
Sarah McHugh has worked for The British Polio Fellowship since August 2012, when she came in to cover maternity leave. Sarah has been with us ever since, having found the British Polio Fellowship a charity where she felt she could do some good. Having worked for a GP surgery and a Poly Clinic, Sarah has first-hand knowledge of how hard it can be for those living with Polio and PPS to source the help they need and how hard the charity works to set this right.
Hailing from South Harrow, Sarah is an experiences member of the Support Services team and has also completed 10k runs fundraising for the charity, together with colleague Rosalind Evans.
“As one of the first ports of call for those ringing the charity, I have come to appreciate what people with Polio are facing and being able to make a real difference to people’s lives is a very satisfying role to be involved in.”
Welfare Benefits Adviser
The latest member of the Support Services team is Aparna Tripathi, who joins The British Polio Fellowship with five years of experience as a Generalist Adviser with the Citizens Advice Bureau. Aparna will help not only members directly, but also other staff at Central Office as their knowledge will grow with Aparna’s advice and expertise.
Aparna has advised clients from all backgrounds on a broad range of issues, covering such areas as welfare benefits, debt, unemployment and housing advice and now brings the benefits of her knowledge and experience to bear in supporting the members of The British Polio Fellowship.
“I’m really enjoying working with the charity,” said Aparna. “At present, I am trying to understand the issues members of The British Polio Fellowship have, and hope to help them with my expertise and skills. I am focused on researching the latest PPS related information and making sure our members have a platform to discuss any issues I am committed to bringing new and fresh ideas to the team so our members have all the resources they need.”
Hetty Kelly joined the Central Office team in Watford with a brief to help provide a consistently high service to members. Working to support the extensive regional network of branches and groups, the charity now handles thousands of enquires from members of the public concerned about Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) and changes as a result of the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Hetty oversees the running of the office and assists in operational logistics. Hetty has a passion for the charity sector, with over 10 years experience in various roles within the sector. Having graduated with a degree in Social Anthropology from Brunel University, Hetty is putting her advanced administrative skills to use, helping The British Polio Fellowship deliver support to those members who need it most.
Holiday Programme Co-ordinator/Legacies/Gift Aid
Rosalind Evans from Pinner has worked for the charity since 2007 and manages The British Polio Fellowship’s Ron Scudamore Holiday Programme, a restricted fund specifically set up in 2007 enabling people to go on holiday that due to living with Polio may never have had the opportunity to do so, or have special needs that can make the cost prohibitive.
The bungalow at Burnham on Sea is operated as an accessible holiday home for members of The British Polio Fellowship and their families. The bungalow has all the facilities necessary to enable those disabled by Polio to enjoy a holiday. Features like hob and sink worktops that can be raised and lowered automatically plus a bedroom with hoist meant that for decades, the bungalow represented the only opportunity some members had to take a holiday and as such the holiday home has a unique place in the hearts of British Polio Fellowship members.
“Holidays are something many of us take for granted, but for many with Polio they can represent a challenge too far,” explained Rosalind. “The Ron Scudamore programme allows us to use our knowledge to help make a holiday of a lifetime possible for those who thought they could never have one, so it’s very rewarding work.”
Marketing and Campaigns/Website
Kripen Dhrona joined The British Polio Fellowship in October 2014 as the charity’s Marketing Communications Officer and got off to a quick start by managing the Parliamentary Reception for Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) Day on 22 October.
Following a long and successful stint managing the marketing arm of a popular London hotel, Kripen traded Park Lane for Polio and his strong background in marketing and events is proving invaluable. A former project manager for Liquid Bubble Media; Kripen spent over 15 years prior to this implementing group marketing strategy for The Enterprise Hotel in London, which included pioneering social media policy for the group.
Part of Kripen’s brief includes regular liaison with third party suppliers and the charity’s PR agency. His work on publications and brochures has also come in handy, as Kripen is the first point of contact between the editorial team working on charity magazine the bulletin and Central Office. The contacts made in over 15 years have stood him in good stead in devising further events for the charity to build on. Kripen’s efforts have led directly to the successful partnership with the Association of Conferences and Events (ACE) and the ongoing work with REMAP.
“I met with Remap in July 2016 and they love making things for those with disabilities; while our partnership with London Orthotic Consultancy is helping PPS patients to walk independently,’” said Kripen. “I am looking to help the charity build on these relationships and establish new ones to help people with PPS receive the support and they need to live independent lives.”
Shirley Russell is key part of the Central Office team and is also a long-standing member of The British Polio Fellowship, having contracted Polio as a child when she was living in Trieste, Italy.
She began working for British Polio in 2009, joining the team as a Project Worker.
Shirley went onto put together the Oral History Heritage Project, where fifty members of the British Polio Fellowship spoke of their experiences on Polio and Post-Polio syndrome. The archive is a living documentary and portrayal of the effects of Poliomyelitis on individuals, their families, and their friends – and records people’s memories, struggles and efforts to overcome and manage the.
Shirley is also heavily involved with the advertising for the Bulletin, the British Polio Fellowship’s bi-monthly magazine. She has, for many years been the principal co-ordinator for the National Indoor Games held every March in Leicester, playing an important role as part of the Championship Committee as well.
In addition to working on projects set out by the British Polio Fellowship, Shirley has been involved with the Brunel University, arranging for members of the British Polio Fellowship to take part in focus groups organised by the university.
When she is not working, Shirley enjoys yoga, meditation, reading and socialising.
Diane has worked for The British Polio Fellowship for almost 20 years. Working on a part-time basis initially supporting charity collections and then in the Trusts and Fundraising Department, Diane never thought she would spend the next two decades working for a charity she has grown to love.
Having worked as a secretary and receptionist for a solicitor before this position, Diane initially joined the charity not knowing a lot about Polio other than the fact she attended school with a girl who suffered from it.
Over the years, Diane has taken pride working selflessly for the charity’s members, finding ways people can save money through various initiatives, and raising money for the British Polio Fellowship through charity events and grant funding.
“I have met hundreds of members over the years and I am always interested to hear about how they have lived with this neurological, debilitating condition. Many with varying degrees of disability but have gone on to lead fulfilling lives which shows their courage and determination, this is a real incentive for me to help raise funds for the charity.”
Fundraising Administration/In Memoriam/Donations and Merchandise
Linda joined The British Polio Fellowship in 2007 as a fundraising administrator, and is also a member of the British Polio Fellowship in her own right having contracted polio at 3 years old. Linda enjoys representing British Polio as one of the ‘lucky ones’ and prides herself in being able to raise money for a cause that is so personal to her.
After working in banking for 24 years, Linda has utilised her financial skills to become a member of the fundraising team, an area in which she had never worked in before, prior to joining the charity.
She has gone on to become the ‘Queen of the Christmas cards’, helping to choose, order and dispatch the annual Christmas cards for the Fellowship. The Fellowship is thought to have been the first charity to have produced and sold Christmas cards.
“Although I am not on the front line like some of my colleagues, when I do have the opportunity to talk to members it is nice to interact and be able to listen and empathise with what they are going through. I like to keep up to date with what is happening within the organisation and overall working for the British Polio Fellowship is a very rewarding experience,” said Linda.
When she is not working, Linda enjoys holidays, gardening, reading and spending time with her family.
Dawn joined British Polio on a temporary contact September 2011, before becoming an employee in April 2012.
With a financial background, Dawn enjoys working with figures and has gone on to become a key player within the charity’s Finance team.
Before working for the charity, Dawn had left the financial world to move into a Care role, in and around the Wiltshire area. She spent her time assisting those in need in their homes, and although a world away from her previous career in the financial industry, it proved great experience and the perfect stepping stone to working for British Polio Fellowship.
After being approached by the charity to work in the finance department, Dawn jumped at the opportunity, finally combining her love of maths with helping others, in a job that she treasures.
Her position within British Polio also sees Dawn travelling up and down the country attending events such as the National Indoor Games, an annual event which is crucially important to charity members.
She also attended two of the National Roadshows, events that allowed the charity’s members to meet other local members and representatives of the Trustees and from Central Office.
These events bring people together, reinforcing the charity’s role in serving some 120,000 Polio survivors throughout the UK – with support, welfare and advocacy.
“I really love the office environment and the team we have here”, said Dawn. “Working at British Polio is more than just a job for us all; it really is a vocation and the team ethos developed over recent years is fantastic. I love attending events, speaking and interacting with the members who are an inspiration, each and every one of them. The Indoor Games are very special and an annual highlight; watching members enjoy themselves and achieve their dreams during the intense competition is tremendously rewarding.”