Case studies > Skills sharing > Strategic development - The supporter perspective

Brian Seaton & Purple Field Productions

This is a photo of small charity member Purple Field Productions in action. Click the image to visit their website

Brian Seaton is an ex-NHS senior manager/executive, and with a life-long interest in voluntary/charity work, who upon retiring wanted to contribute some of his management experience back into helping charities who felt that a bit of encouragement & support would be welcomed. So he got in touch with the Small Charities Coalition to offer his services, and was matched with Elspeth from Purple Field Productions (PFP). Brian was kind enough to share with us some of his memories of the experience.

Shortly after I offered my services, Elise[service coordinator]contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a management review for a charity which specialised in producing films for development in third-world countries. It sounded very exciting, and I was more than happy to pursue the match.

Elise put me in contact with Elspeth who kindly provided me with some background materials on PFP and where it was currently at with its organisational management structure and business planning. We could have discussed by telephone, or Elspeth kindly offered to meet with me on one of her next visits to London. But I'm afraid that, with spring well on its way, the prospect of me taking an outing to glorious Somerset was too good to be missed, so it was agreed that we would meet in Crewkerne instead.

Elspeth and her brother, Scott met me at the station and took me to lunch at a delightful pub/restaurant in a converted mill. Good food, lovely weather, beautiful peaceful countryside - it was perfect setting to have a stress-free wide-ranging discussion on the issues currently facing PFP and the options for addressing them.

I have always felt that the principal characteristic of good consultancy is to help the "client" to find their own solutions to their issues - albeit with some hints and suggestions contributed along the way. Elspeth and Scott proved to be very perceptive in their understanding of the issues confronting them. So it seemed to me that our discussion, with its mixture of new ideas (from both sides) and reassurance that many of their existing ideas were very much on the right track, opened various opportunities for Elspeth and Scott to continue to move PFP forward in the right direction to meet the new challenges that it was facing as its work became increasingly recognised and valued.

Regrettably, good things come to an end and, all too soon it was time to make my way back to the station for the journey back to London. I felt that I'd had a great time experiencing Elspeth's & Scott's hospitality and exciting vision for the way that film can make a real difference to perceptions of deprivation - and how to address them - particularly in developing countries. I hope that they got as much out of the match as I did.

Elspeth's comments certainly suggest that they did!

Brian, himself, was incredibly helpful and understanding - as well as having the experience and knowledge we needed. Brian's approach was such that not only did I gain knowledge, but also gained in confidence that we could do something about the problems facing us.


Match completed in May 2011

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