We interviewed one of our new Associate Directors, Patrick Gallagher to get his insight into our charity, how he got involved and what he's helped achieve so far.

How did you first find out about the CSRF?  

"I first became involved in The CSRF when my Fast Stream cohort in Northern Ireland received an email inviting us to volunteer with the National Visitor’s Network. This came from a Fast Streamer in GB who had been seconded to the Fellowship." 

What interested you most about the charity?  

"I was immediately interested in the Fellowship as I had been considering researching opportunities to get involved with visiting people who may be affected by loneliness. This was, and is, an important issue for me as I had seen how much the visits of family and friends had helped my grandmother during the last few months of her life, and I realised that a lot of people were not as lucky to have such a network close to home. The email about the CSRF was enough of a kick to finally get me started, rather than continuing to procrastinate and put it off!" 

Were you involved with the charity before becoming a board member?  

"I was initially a visitor on the National Visitor’s Network, meeting up with Robert approximately every two weeks. Having met the Chief Executive at visitors training, I had informally been helping him with communications with the Northern Ireland Civil Service and was asked to be the Fellowship’s Northern Ireland ambassador." 

How did becoming a board member come about?  

"Out of the blue to be honest! One day the Chief Executive rang me to tell me that the membership of the CSRF Board had been reviewed and was being rejigged, with 3 Associate Director posts being created. He asked if I would be interested in applying for one of the posts. I was a little apprehensive at first as I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be confident in joining a board made up of very experienced civil servants and volunteers. The Chief Executive reassured me that the purpose of creating the Associate Director posts was to broaden the scope of the Board and bring on people of differing levels of experience and from different generations. After some thought I decided to apply and sent my CV and cover note for consideration at the Board." 

What has your experience of the charity been like since becoming a board member?  

"I have really enjoyed my experiences since becoming a Board member. I have learned a lot about the Fellowship but have also learned a lot professionally from working with the other Board members and seeing how they operate. I appreciate the responsibility that comes with being a Board member and so have learned to make sure I set aside enough time to read through all the papers and prepare properly for the meetings. It is a privilege to be asked to help with a charity like this so I want to make sure I make as good a contribution as possible." 

Is there anything you’re particularly proud of being involved with?  

"As my initial involvement came about thanks to the National Visitors Network I still have a special interest in that aspect of the Fellowship’s work. I have also learned more about the Phone Buddy scheme which can also provide a welcome respite from loneliness. 

I am excited about being more involved with the Fellowship’s groups across the country, especially after meeting and talking to group members at the Northern Ireland Branch AGM, the Fellowship AGM and the Thames Bridge Challenge – Belinda’s Walk. The more I see of the Fellowship the more I am able to appreciate how important and greatly appreciated the work is." 

If the above has sparked your interest in getting involved with us in any way we'd love to hear from you. Either email [email protected] or call us on 020 8691 7411