Tag Archives: NCT

Planning A Ball Is Hard Work

Back in October 2015 I decided that my NCT branch (Warwickshire Central) would hold a ball to celebrate the 60th birthday of NCT.

Ball, Charity, NCT, Jubilee

When I first came up with the idea of running a ball I wasn’t sure how it would go down with the rest of the committee, thankfully they were all happy to help. I had big plans for the evening but as the weeks went on and I realised we were the only branch in the country running a ball, I can tell you I was scared! Planning such a big event isn’t easy but as we’re one of the top ten fundraisers in the country I knew we could easily make £1000 from the night thanks to lovely people who had purchased tickets to attend, for example at our November 2015 nearly new sale we made just shy of £4000 sheer profit.  We’re a pretty awesome branch I’m sure you will agree.

The charity is very important to me. I’ve never actually taken an NCT class, which to some people may seem odd – why would I have dedicated the past 3 years of my life to a charity that I’ve never used? Well the answer is simple. I moved to the midlands 4 years ago and I didn’t know anyone – I had no friends or family here so I needed a way to meet people. By volunteering, I’ve made so many friends so not only do I help the charity but in turn the charity has also helped me.

It all started on 4 May 1956 with a small advert in the personal columns of The Times and The Daily Telegraph. The ad called on women to join a new association that would support them through natural childbirth. It would be two more years before the first antenatal classes took place.

Today, NCT courses are attended by over 100,000 parents each year. There are over 300 branches with 15,000 volunteers on hand to help. Online support reaches over 2.3 million parents and parents-to-be each year.

NCT conducts important research to use to lobby for changes to improve maternity and parent services.  Automatic enemas and shaving were scrapped and fathers or partners allowed into delivery rooms all thanks to NCT.  I look forward to seeing NCT help improve services further by the time my daughter has children.

We raised a whopping £1431 on the night and all of the money raised will stay in our community and go towards paying for our breastfeeding services and parent support. We run 3 support sessions every week which are open to all and are free.  These have been invaluable to many local parents.

Cake, NCT, Jubilee, Charity

We were gifted some incredible raffle prizes and one lovely lady in our area donated the amazing cake shown above.  I’m personally looking forward to the next ten years and to see what changes are made in that time.

 



Dressing For A Charity Ball In Your 30’s

In May NCT will be celebrating it’s jubilee and to celebrate 60 years of the charity, branches are going to promote how they have provided parent support across generations and most branches are inviting old and new members to  a Diamond Jubilee Tea Party. My branch, Warwickshire Central like to really push the boat out and to celebrate we’re hosting a charity ball which is incredibly exciting as we get to keep 100% of the profits made which will go towards helping parents in my area.

Dressing for a charity ball in your 30's

As branch co-ordinator I will be hosting the charity ball which takes place at the Hilton Hotel in Warwick.  I’ve never done anything like this before and I don’t think I will have spoken in front of more than 50 people before so it’s a little daunting and therefore important to me that I wear the right outfit.  I’ll be talking at a podium alongside a video presentation so I don’t want to be tripping over a flowing gown, I also need to make sure that whatever I’m wearing isn’t too low cut or see through and I need to make sure that my shoes are comfortable as I’ll be chatting to everyone who has bought a ticket to find out their NCT story.

I wear black, grey or dark blue all of the time and it’s a very rare occasion when I add something else into my colour chart so my first task is to decide if I’m open to colour or something pale.

I’m already a tall girl at 5’10 so I don’t want to wear heels that are over 3″ high if possible.  I’ve narrowed it down to 5 options and I’m finding it incredibly difficult to decide which dress to go for, here are my favourites:

Coast dress suitable for a charity ball with new look shoes.

This is the Roccabella jacquard dress £195 from Coast which is where I usually buy my occasion wear from.  I’ve paired it with some white leather look heels £17.99 from New Look which are the perfect height for me.  I would happily use this dress again for a wedding or to wear to the races so I would definitely get more than one wear from this.

Jenny Packham ball gown with Carvela shoes suitable for a charity ball

This is the most expensive dress out of my choices, the Jenny Packham Luna hand embellished evening dress is a whopping £225 and is incredibly beautiful, the only thing which is putting me off this dress is the fact I probably wouldn’t wear it again unless I was invited to another ball.  It’s hard ot find shoes to match such a beautiful dress especially when there is so much going on, I really love these Gel Carvela £120 at Kurt Geiger heels and  I would be able to wear them with some of the other dresses I own.

ASOS Tall range cocktail dress with Aniston heels suitable for a charity ball

The Little Mistress prom dress £65 from the tall range at ASOS is really going out of my comfort zone as I never usually wear anything so pale.  I love everything about this dress including the price and I would probably wear both the dress and the Aniston Nine West £49 shoes on a night out or for a wedding or the races so it would be money well spent.

Monsoon cocktail dress and Kathin heels suitable for a charity ball

The picture above does not do the Ceilidh pencil dress £119 by Monsoon justice, the detailing to the neck is nothing short of beautiful,  The Kathin by Vince Camuto £95 heels are the perfect height for me and I think I’d happily be able to stay on my feet all evening wearing these.

House of fraser cocktail dress with topshop heels suitable for a charity ball

My final dress is the Untold Broderie lace fit and flare dress £65, I’m still in two minds about this as it’s probably something I would have worn in my 20’s and I keep doubting myself that I can still pull something like this off.  I really love these Ninety Strappy Sandals £49 from Topshop and readers who were with me in my blogger.com days when I spent most of my money on shoes will remember that at one time I bought most of the heels that Topshop brought out, it seems a lifetime ago that I talked about shoes and my collection that at one point contained over 300 pairs, anyway I digress it’s been a long time since I purchased a pair of Topshop heels (5 years) and these heels are probably as high as I could manage without falling on my bum!

So please put yourself in my shoes, you’re 36 years old and going to a charity ball where you’re representing not only your branch but the charity as a whole – which dress do you pick?

If anyone has hosted a ball or done a presentation I’d love to hear from you for hints and tips!

*This is NOT a collaborative post and links are NOT affiliate

 

 



NCT Stars Awards 2015

On Tuesday I made my way to London for the NCT Stars Awards 2015 which were held at The House of Lords.  The star awards recognise and celebrate NCT branch volunteers who are the backbone of the charity. There are 324 branches across the UK and without volunteers we wouldn’t be able to offer parents the local support and services that we do.

I wasn’t sure I was going to actually make the ceremony as I’ve not recovered from being poorly after Run or Dye, my family were going to accompany me but Arthur was poorly so they had to stay at home.  I spent the whole train journey to London coughing, taking cough sweets and dosing myself with paracetemol to take down my temperature.  There is nothing worse when you’re feeling poorly than sitting on a stuffy train then taking the tube to your destination. believe me.

NCT_Stars_2015

I was nominated for volunteer behind the scenes of the year which is for an NCT volunteer who has supported and helped other volunteers to ensure the smooth running of NCT in their local area.  I had already won the regional award and although I didn’t win the national award I was awarded Highly Commended which was fantastic.

NCT_Stars_Awards_Regional

Here’s what the people who voted for me said:

“Daniella is relentless in her dedication.  She moved into the area with her new baby and took on the treasurer role, making the accounts more efficient which helped the branch become one of the top ten fundraising branches.  She also took on the newsletter editor role, and digitalised the newsletter, which has extended the reach in an incredible way. Plus she took on other tasks such as manning the NCT stands at two summer festivals, and organised an amazing raffle.  She is supportive and helpful.  She completes everything with a smile and brings enthusiasm and happiness to the branch team.”

NCT_Stars_Awards_Chris_White_MP

I had the most amazing day at the House of Lords, I got to meet my local MP Chris White who came to support me during the awards, we were served a delicious afternoon tea and of course I got to visit the House of Lords which is not something many people can say.

I’ve been a volunteer with NCT since 2013 and I’m so proud of my branch and the work that we do.  I took over as Branch Coordinator earlier this year and it’s one of the best things I ever did, I have a great team of volunteers and practitioners and we provide some fantastic services and support to our local parents.  To be recognised in a national awards ceremony really pushes you to do more and I would love to see more members of my team nominated at the stars awards next year.

Do you or have you ever volunteered?

 



Volunteering for the NCT

NCT Treasurer

I have been an NCT volunteer now for over two years, a lot of people are often surprised to hear that I had never actually used any of the services offered by NCT before I started volunteering.  I just happened to see a plea post on Facebook that had been shared by a friend that said my local branch were in desperate need of a treasurer and without one it was likely that the branch would have to close.

I spent a couple of hours researching the charity and decided that as I had some spare hours thanks to being a freelance worker I would enquire about the position, the thought of local parents not having access to vital services offered by NCT really hit a nerve with me as a new parent.  I had no financial qualifications and apart from doing my own accounts and tax returns and some basic book keeping for clients I was unsure if I would be qualified for the role.

I quickly found out that the treasurer role didn’t require any former financial knowledge and you didn’t have to be a qualified accountant which quickly put my mind at ease.  You do need to be comfortable with handling figures and money, we pay our nearly new sale sellers with cash on the day of the sale so this requires a lot of counting, checking and double checking of the cash.

Full training is provided by the treasurer who is leaving the role, there are a variety of regional training days offered to volunteers and as branch treasurer you are never alone. There is great regional and national support who I’ve had to contact on a few occasions when I just couldn’t work out how to do something.  There is a fantastic yahoo group where branch treasures can go if they have a question and there are regular Skype sessions offered especially during the year end where a treasurer might need extra support.

The role of Branch Treasurer can sound quite time consuming if you read a list of the tasks and responsibilities but in reality it doesn’t take me more than 2-3 hours per week although it is a little more during a nearly new sale and at the end of a financial quarter  The main tasks you undertake as treasurer are recording all the branch income and expenditure on NCT’s web based financial software so NCT can produce accounts, making sure the bank balance in the black and providing the financial plan for the branch year.

My volunteering experience has been so positive, we have an incredibly supportive local team who go above and beyond to help each other and it’s because of the support I get from my fellow volunteers that I also took on the role as newsletter editor just over a year ago.  I’ve loved every minute of my time as treasurer and I really don’t want to leave my role but as I’m taking the role of Branch Coordinator I unfortunately can’t do both.  The treasurer who takes my place will have my full support, after all I’ve been doing the role for the past two years and I know that it can be quite daunting at first which is why I’m glad I’ll be there to offer them as much help and support as they need in the role.

If you’re interested in volunteering for your local branch, you can find out more information on the NCT website.  If you live in the Warwickshire Central area and would like to volunteer you can contact volunteer.nctwarks@gmail.com for more information.

 


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My Volunteering Story

I’ve always enjoyed giving up my free time to help others and have done many roles from working with old people to sorting clothes in the back office of a charity shop.  Each time I volunteer I get a real sense of achievement and it feels great to give something to others at no cost.

I currently volunteer for the Warwickshire Central branch of the NCT (National Childbirth Trust), it may sound strange to hear that I’ve never actually used the services of the NCT but some of my close friends relied on the prenatal groups, breastfeeding counsellors and friends they have made at postnatal drop ins so I knew that choosing the NCT as the charity to offer my time and services was a good choice for me. After speaking to some local NCT members they have told me that they don’t know what they would have done in the early days with their newborn without the support network they have thanks to the NCT so even though I have no experience of the services just to know how much others have gained from the courses and friendships makes me see how important the NCT is to parents.

I started volunteering as the Branch Treasurer last October which is one of the core roles, I  basically manage the branch finances which is actually a lot harder than it sounds and has had me pulling my hair out at 3am when totals haven’t been adding up!

I most recently took on the role of Newsletter Editor, the New Addition newsletter is published 4 times a year and I’m responsible for planning each edition, sourcing and writing content and laying out the pages for printing.  Our Newsletter currently has 64 pages so it’s a great opportunity for me to put some of my blogging/freelance writing skills to use.  I’ve only ever worked on online newsletters before so this is definitely a challenge for me.

I’d love to stay volunteering within the NCT for the next couple of years at least and if any other suitable roles come up I know I’ll be jumping in to help with both feet, the benefit of working from home is that you get to pick your own working hours which for me is usually before 8am or after 9pm in the evening.

If any of my readers are also NCT volunteers I’d love to hear from you, if any printed Newsletter Editors out there have any advice for me my ears are open.