We're aiming to put £10 million a year into community sport

April 8, 2020

GiveToLocal Staff Feature: Rebecca Gardiner

In our GiveToLocal staff features, we normally take the opportunity to shine a light on the people at the heart of our organisation working to secure a sustainable, bright future for grassroots football. This week, we caught up with Chief Operating Officer and GiveToLocal Co-Founder Rebecca Gardiner to discuss her background, her role and how the team is reacting to the challenges brought about by the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

With all the recent turmoil created by COVID-19, there are fresh challenges every day for both grassroots football clubs and local businesses.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s UK-wide lockdown announcement, the country is facing a period of widespread uncertainty.

And while there are unprecedented challenges ahead, Rebecca Gardiner insists that her and the GiveToLocal team are doing everything in their power to ensure that there is support for both local clubs and businesses.

Rebecca embodies the core values that GiveToLocal seeks to promote.

“For me, GiveToLocal has always been about people, both within and outside our organisation,” said Rebecca.

“GiveToLocal was set up to help people and our excellent team have been working so hard over the past few days.

“Over the last week, I’m really proud to see the way they have rallied together to work productively from home as we begin our campaign to help support the local clubs and businesses we all care about.”

Having worked within the service industry prior to university and following her graduation, Rebecca co-founded GiveToLocal with the aim of making a positive impact on people’s lives.

And with a wealth of experience in operations management, she revealed that her route into the organisation can be traced back to a post-A Levels gap year.

“Originally, I started my management career when I was 18-years-old,” said Rebecca.

“I took a gap year between finishing my A-Levels and going to university to decide what I really wanted to do.

“During my time out from studying, I went from being a team member within the Arcadia Group to a supervisor. I was given extra responsibilities like running shifts on Sundays when there were no other managers around.

“That’s kind of when I got the bug for operations and management.

“Whilst I was studying psychology at university in Sunderland, I started working at KFC part time and during that period I worked my way up from a team member to a restaurant manager, managing several stores in the North East during my time there - I ended up at KFC for over six years!”

During her time in the service industry, Rebecca developed a range of skills that she now uses in her day to day role at GiveToLocal.

As Chief Operating Officer, it is her job to maintain the day to day running of GiveToLocal, whilst also ensuring that every member of the team has everything they need to succeed. It’s a role she loves.

“I also look after the wellbeing of the team here and that’s something I really enjoy too - I like being able to help people out if they’re a bit stressed or need some help here or there.

“I’ve discovered that so many of the things I learnt in the service industry have helped me to do a better job at GiveToLocal.

“What I took from the service industry was that you should treat everyone the same, regardless of level or role. That approach is central to how I do my job today.”

Having founded GiveToLocal with husband Neil [Chief Executive], Rebecca is, in essence, the glue that holds everything together - ensuring that the organisation runs smoothly on a daily basis.

Alongside her managerial experience, Rebecca also has a passion for helping people. The 27-year-old credits her parents, in particular, for that attitude.

“I guess my approach stems from my upbringing,” said Rebecca.

“I’ve been very fortunate that my parents are both amazing people, they always brought me up to do what I can to help people, which is something that I want to bring to GiveToLocal every day.

“Ultimately, I think what it comes down to is that I want to be able to help those who need help and creating a team focused on doing exactly that gives a lot of personal satisfaction.”

Every experience Rebecca has had up until now has been leading towards GiveToLocal.

“One of the things I love most about GiveToLocal is being able to come to work with people who have such a passion and genuinely want to help others,” said Rebecca.

“I might not have a massive passion for football - although I do like to watch from time to time - but I see what it means to the people who work here, the clubs involved with GiveToLocal and their local communities. It’s amazing.

“I would love to see GiveToLocal become the go-to fundraiser, not just for football, but for other sports too.

“Having something so powerful and knowing that it grew from such a tiny idea would be amazing.

“It would be incredible to see GiveToLocal grow into something that positively impacts the lives of kids and their communities.

“That’s where I want GiveToLocal to be - I want it to be seen as an organisation that consists of good people who set out to do good every day.

“To know that we’re creating something that creates jobs, provides huge satisfaction and has a positive impact on society is an amazing feeling.

“Having said that, we fully recognise we wouldn’t have anything to do if it wasn’t for the people on the ground, offering their time for their local communities week in and week out.

“I want to be a part of something that helps those people, and enables them to focus on the positives their volunteering role can offer, as opposed to the stress of constant fundraising.  

“People put hours and hours of their own time into helping others and if we can build something that helps them out, I will be absolutely thrilled.”

And in the wake of the recent challenges presented by the outbreak of coronavirus, Rebecca insists that if everyone sticks together, looks after each other and follows the correct advice regarding isolation, then the issues presented by the virus can be resolved.

“The message from the GiveToLocal team is that we want everyone to know that we’re doing everything we can to try and help our grassroot clubs and local businesses,” said Rebecca.

“The challenges presented by the coronavirus are massive for the GiveToLocal community.

“Now is a time for us all to come together in a show of unity across the entire country because there’s only one way we’re going to beat this virus.

“If everyone sticks together and looks after each other, then I am sure that we can get through the challenging times that are facing us.

“It’s really important to emphasise that everyone must follow the correct procedures implemented by the government. Without that, the situation can still get worse.

“If we all band together to look after each other during this unprecedented time, we will beat the coronavirus and be able to look forward to a brighter future.”

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