Welcome to my world: a week in the life of an HLF development officer

Sally Roberts, Swyddog Datblygu yn nhîm CDL Cymru
This is Sally’s penultimate week with HLF, and what a week it’s been! Reckon you could pick up where she left off? From one Development Officer to another (no pressure!), here’s a week in her world…

I started working for HLF five years ago. Now I’m starting a fresh chapter somewhere else it strikes me just how quickly that time has flown by – much like this week actually!

I want to give you a flavour of exactly what my job is really like, so I thought: what better week to pick than this one? It happens that I’ve been involved in a wide range of different activities this week that give a great flavour of what it means to be a development officer with the Wales team. 

[quote]“Maybe you’re reading this because you fancy working in heritage, and being part of a team that all put heritage and people’s passion for their projects first.”[/quote]

Maybe you’re reading this because you fancy working in heritage, and being part of a team that all put heritage and people’s passion for their projects first. Perhaps you’re just curious and want to understand a bit more about what we do ‘behind the scenes’. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you’re reading because you’ve heard that a love of cake and/or biscuits is a key requirement for a development officer – and think you’ve got what it takes… 

In the office

My week started with a day in the office, tying up loose ends in preparation for a North Wales road trip lasting the rest of the week. Normally trips aren’t this long, but as we were heading up we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible. (Now, though, HLF is hoping to appoint two people part time to cover each end of the country).

My colleague Julie and I spent the day doing last minute prep for the events, such as getting leaflets and handouts ready, saving presentations onto memory sticks, chasing up attendees and responding to some applicant enquiries as we wouldn’t be at our desks again.

On Tuesday morning we attended a funding conference in Cardiff City Stadium which was organised by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, where we manned our stall and spoke to potential applicant organisations about HLF and what sort of projects we are looking to support. 

Expect the unexpected

On Tuesday afternoon Julie and I drove up to Llandudno ready for our workshop in Conwy the next day (which I was quite excited about because that’s where I grew up!). Conwy, like all the areas we visited in North Wales, is one of our Priority Development Areas (PDAs) that we pay particular attention to. We want to encourage as many applications as possible from these areas because historically organisations here don’t apply for as much funding as we think they could. 

We gave one-to-one funding advice and a presentation, and also heard from other funding organisations and case studies about what their projects have delivered.

That reminds me – another key requirement for this role (alongside the love of cake, obviously) is the ability to think on your feet and not get flustered. The speakers all ended up talking quicker than expected and running ahead of time, so we had to improvise and run an extra, completely unplanned session at the end to use the time up! 

Getting out and about

[quote]“Going out and seeing progress is one of the best things about this job - it can be easy to forget, sat behind your desk, what impact your work is actually having out there in the real world.”[/quote]

On Thursday we had site visits in Flintshire to check out some of the proposed plans for projects, which we combined with speaking to applicants who have just entered the process and submitted a proposal. We also went to see how some of our successful projects in the area are getting along now they’ve had their grant and are in the delivery phase, such as the Point of Ayr colliery. 

Going out and seeing progress is one of the best things about this job - it can be easy to forget, sat behind your desk, what impact your work is actually having out there in the real world in local communities.

Let them eat cake

On Friday we hosted a coffee morning in Wrexham for a variety of local groups to help raise awareness of HLF and what we offer, and the room was packed! People from the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra, the local WI, a sewing club, two churches and even a garden were all there to hear about how we might be able to help them. 

This is only the second time we’ve held this sort of event in a coffee morning format, and it’s turning out to be a great way to have an informal get-together that encourages people to talk among themselves as well as to us - we saw two groups make a connection that might be going somewhere, which without us probably wouldn’t have happened. 
Oh, and did I mention there was cake – lots of cake…?

No rest for the wicked

So, it’s been a pretty busy week with lots of variety (another great perk of the job in my opinion, you can never get bored here) - but most of my weeks are actually a bit more normal than this one!…If by ‘normal’ you mean getting to spend the day finding the potential in others’ ideas and then helping people realise it for themselves.

I’ll start my new job in two weeks – entering a new chapter in my life which is suddenly about to get even busier as I’ve got another very important event to attend at the end of the month. My wedding!

I heard there’s going to be cake there…

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