Meet Bridget Gallagher, the OABF’s Volunteer Support Manager. Here she tells us about her links to the military, career within the Ex-service Charitable Welfare Sector and the invaluable role that our team of volunteers, ‘Hon Reps’, play in supporting former military Officers and their families through the OABF.
My own personal background within the Ex-service community comes from having been a Military Spouse (Army) myself, travelling the world from posting to posting with my family for over 20 years. Settling back into ‘civilian life’, my chosen career path has remained within the Ex-service Charitable Welfare Sector, working previously for both SSAFA & The Royal British Legion for nearly 18 years, before joining the OABF as a Grants & Welfare Manager seven years ago. In 2021, I had the privilege and opportunity, within the OABF, for my job as a Grants & Welfare Manager to become ‘double hatted’, when I was appointed as OABF Volunteer Support Manager, directly working with and providing support and in-house training to our wonderful team of Volunteers whom we call ‘Honorary Representatives (Hon Reps)’.
The OABF relies on our team of dedicated Hon Reps to complete the initial casework. Many of our Hon Reps are Ex- Officers or have a keen interest in the military community and the challenges faced by those who have left military service. Our Hon Reps are based in county areas within the United Kingdom (not including Scotland) and many of the Hon Reps tell me that they decided to volunteer for the OABF because they wanted to ‘give back’ and help fellow Officers and their families in times of hardship.
Each Hon Rep works with our Grants & Welfare team to help deliver personal and empathetic support to a beneficiary who has contacted us. They achieve this through a personal Hon Rep home visit to the beneficiary in the comfort and privacy of their own home or via a telephone interview. This allows them to gather all the necessary information for the Grants & Welfare Managers to assist the beneficiary – meeting their current needs either through grant support, advice and information or signposting.
All of our Hon Reps who volunteer for the OABF complete initial in-house training. It is part of my role as a qualified trainer, to induct them using the Triangle ‘Independence Star’, which the OABF uses as an evidence-based tool for measuring and supporting change when working with people. The Star is underpinned by three values: empowerment, collaboration, and integration. This enables us to deliver a very person-centered approach to those within our Ex-Officer community who are seeking OABF support, information, and advice.
Each year, as part of our commitment to and engagement with our Hon Reps, we hold a dedicated OABF Hon Rep Roadshow. This gives our CEO, Trustees and staff the opportunity to say a huge ‘thank you’ to our Hon Reps in person, showing our appreciation for the work Hon Reps do in giving up their valuable free time to volunteer for the OABF. It is a very enjoyable event, giving everyone the opportunity to meet up in person, hear guest speakers, do some update training and to get involved in OABF activities.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an OABF volunteer, visit the ‘How you Can Help’ section of our website or give us a call or email via the contact section on the website.
G&W & Volunteer Support Manager