To celebrate her 20 year anniversary with the St John’s Foundation, we sat down with our Executive Director, Louise Harvey and had a chat about her time with the organisation, how she’s seen the community in Bath change over the years and the advice she’d give to those of us working in third sector.
What is your role and what are your responsibilities?
I am the Executive Director of St John’s Foundation Fund. My role involves overseeing all charitable delivery for the organisation as well as managing the Communications and Technology for the charity.
Tell us about your journey with St John’s over the last 20 years.
I first joined St John’s to support a project focused on driving our almshouse offering to deliver a more modern and efficient experience for older adults.
Following this, I established a funding programme offering grants to organisations across Bath as a means to support them in becoming more sustainable. Within that time, we were able to push our boundaries and extend our reach to cover the entire BaNES region as well as our local Bath community. In addition to this valuable work I also took our funding and impact department completely paperless through developing a bespoke digital platform for applications to be submitted and processed.
Since then, through my directorate, I have enhanced our charitable delivery. I was a key part of the team that drove forward the initiative for the House of St John’s – a luxury meeting and workspace in Queen Square that gifts 100% of profits to St John’s. I also supported in the creation of our 10-year strategy which I now oversee and help to drive our objective of supporting children under the age of 12 to grow into happy, healthy members of the community.
What is your favourite thing about your role?
Never has there been two days the same, my role is so varied. I feel that the 20 years has flown by- before one project finishes, we are already embarking on another. St John’s is continuously improving and to be a part of that is a true privilege.
How have you seen the needs of our community change over the last 20 years?
Unfortunately the needs of the community have remained the same over the last 20 years.
The disparity across BaNES obviously fluctuates with economic climate, though the need for safe spaces and support around food and housing has always been present. Now the way we share this information is changing, it enables businesses, charities and not for profits to come together to try and tackle these persisting issues, to ensure citizens within BaNES gain access to the help and support they really need.
What advice would you give to someone working in the third sector?
Listen and do not make assumptions.
Just because we award funding does not mean we always fully understand what people in the region need. The important thing is to really listen and understand what is happening in our community and then come together to find solutions to issues. There is so much great work already being delivered across our region- connect with these people, become a part of that strong network of support.