Having served as a police officer in the West Midlands for most of his career - and more recently Chief Operating Officer at STFC - Pete Brophy is up for a challenge. He explains why he's decided to dedicate his working life to running Shrewsbury charity OMEGA.
Many a time, as I sat through games watching Shrewsbury Town from the elevated position of the boardroom seats, I would have to pinch myself just to reassure myself it was real. I enjoyed my time there as Chief Operating Officer and worked with some fantastic people. My workstation had a glorious view of the pitch at Oteley Road, the stands and rolling Shropshire hills beyond.
But, to my surprise, I found that something was missing. As much as I enjoyed working in football, I didn’t get the same job satisfaction that I had experienced through my 30-year police career. I suppose a lifetime in the public sector had left its impression and I felt I needed to continue making a significant difference. So I decided to seek a different challenge, something more personally fulfilling and I was drawn to a role to working with Omega, a national Charity based in Shrewsbury. A national charity that despite having been in existence for over 15 years I’d never come across.
I applied for the role and successfully negotiated the dreaded paper sift and was invited to interview with a number of other candidates, all of whom, I suspect, had more sector knowledge than myself, but I must have said something to impress as I was offered and accepted the position as CEO, a role that I started in early December.
Pete Brophy in his new role as CEO of OMEGA
On daily basis, I now work with a small group of dedicated colleagues and a larger group of remote volunteers from all over the UK, all of whom are committed to doing something good for society. Whether looking for funding opportunities and grants, or just taking time to talk to someone in need. The sense of personal satisfaction that I derive from it is enormous, despite the long hours.
The main aim of Omega is to end social isolation and loneliness, and offer support to those that may have no one else to connect with. Presently the majority of people we help are from the older generation. Across the UK it is estimated that there are 2 million people aged 75+ who are socially isolated and we want to help as many people locally and nationally as we can by utilising Chatterbox, our volunteer enhanced telephone befriending programme which has, over the last ten years, proved to be an effective and flexible way of helping people be more connected.
We also have A Letter from Louise and Postcards from the Past, which are our free pen pal correspondence services operated in a similar way. Being connected does make a huge difference to the mental health, emotional well-being and physical health of an isolated person. Basically, it can save lives, and who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?
Our coordinators support volunteers, by responding to client requests or other needs raised in the calls, for example signposting local services, medical information or social groups. For our most vulnerable clients, we are a lifeline in terms of social contact and emotional support.
For the future, personally I want the charity to grow to be able to help more people, and to grow we need more exposure and like most charities we need financial support and donations, however small or large, from individuals or from commercial benefactors.
But in addition to this we need volunteers with the skills to match the needs of our clients, namely empathy, honesty, integrity, patience. Our volunteers, by committing just an half an hour a week or so, could make a real difference to somebody’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Just 30 minutes of your week!
If you would like to know a little more about OMEGA, or how to become a volunteer, how to donate or even how to refer someone to us that you think we could support, then please contact us at email@example.com or view our website www.omega.uk.net
And for now, here’s to the next 12 months and all the challenges 2024 will bring.